Enhancing Steel Structural Safety: Exploring 7 Degrees of Freedom in FEM Software for 2nd Order Effects Analysis

10 June 2024Advance Design



Finite Element Method (FEM) software like GRAITEC Advance Design has transformed the landscape of structural engineering by enabling more accurate and efficient analyses of complex structures. A critical capability within this realm is the analysis of steel elements considering 2nd order effects, particularly using advanced methods like those involving seven degrees of freedom (DOF). This article explores how software like GRAITEC Advance Design incorporates such sophisticated approaches to enhance the verification of steel structures under various loading conditions

people in protective clothing in a building under construction, structural engineering, 2nd Order Effects

Understanding 2nd Order Effects

2nd order effects, also known as P-Δ and P-δ effects, are crucial for assessing the real-world behavior of structures under load. These effects account for deformations that influence the overall stability of the structure, potentially leading to non-linear responses. In engineering terms, these effects are essential for understanding buckling and post-buckling behavior, critical for ensuring the safety and stability of steel structures.

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The Role of Seven Degrees of Freedom

In the realm of FEM, the degrees of freedom refer to the number of directions in which a node within a mesh can move. Traditional models usually incorporate up to six degrees of freedom: translations in the x, y, and z directions, and rotations about these axes. The addition of a seventh degree of freedom introduces another layer of complexity and realism, potentially encompassing warping effects or other torsional responses not captured by conventional six DOF models.

multi-colored graphic of building and arena framework, structural engineering, 2nd Order Effects

GRAITEC Advance Design and Advanced DOF Analysis

GRAITEC Advance Design is known for its robust analysis capabilities. But does it extend to seven degrees of freedom for steel elements? Advance Design not only accommodates seven degrees of freedom but provides a powerful design engine that takes into account 2nd order effects, stability, imperfections, and load positioning in relation to cross-section.

Application in Industry

Integrating seven degrees of freedom in FEM software like GRAITEC Advance Design proves invaluable. It is useful not only in complex projects but also in everyday design challenges that may seem simple yet pose significant difficulties. Such challenges include the design of thin-walled, asymmetrical, or monosymmetric profiles, where understanding all potential deformations and stresses is crucial. Advanced models that feature comprehensive DOF options equip engineers with the ability to foresee and address these potential issues, enhancing both the safety and efficacy of their designs before they are executed in the real world.


GRAITEC Advance Design boasts a wide array of features for structural analysis. The ways it specifically offers models with seven degrees of freedom to address 2nd order effects in steel elements should be verified by checking the latest software updates and detailed technical specifications from GRAITEC. As engineering software continues to evolve, the incorporation of advanced analysis features like this is vital for pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in structural engineering, ensuring structures not only meet safety standards but exceed them.

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