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Difference between the Thin Shell, Thick Shell, and Membrane element



Distinction between the Skinny Shell, Thick Shell, and Membrane factor

In ETABS we regularly face the issue of choosing the kind of factor to be chosen through the design of the Slab and Shear wall. When utilizing ETABS we could acknowledge that there are 4 choices for a Wall/Slab part task. They’re Skinny Shell, Thick Shell, Membrane and layered. Every kind of part has completely different options. Since Slab or Wall are principal components of a construction so task of their part has important impact into our mannequin output. There’s a debate among the many engineers world wide in regards to the collection of materials kind whether or not it ought to be Skinny Shell, Thick Shell or Membrane. We’ll undergo main meanings of what every kind of components signify, what it can have an effect on to our mannequin and a few helpful suggestions.

Membrane Ingredient:

A membrane, outlined in ETABS and lots of different FEA based mostly software program is an space object which has no out-of-plane stiffness traits. Which implies, the theoretical bending stiffness of a membrane is zero. A membrane factor has in airplane stiffness and might transmit loading in its robust axis route. A membrane can’t bend. Membranes can maintain out of airplane loading by in-plane-stresses. It may well resist forces by in airplane stress that means transferring load to the helps by way of. Stress.

For membrane, solely in-plane stiffness shall be thought of by the finite factor packages whereas performing evaluation of slabs. When evaluation is completed, ETABS makes use of tributary space algorithms to switch the load from a membrane slab on to its supporting partitions and beams. The hundreds utilized to membrane objects switch on to supporting structural objects, whereas meshed shell objects have bending stiffness and due to this fact resist a portion of the load by means of flexural deformation. Consequently, 100% of the load will switch by means of a membrane, whereas much less load might be obtainable to switch to beams situated underneath a shell.

Be aware {that a} membrane will be unable to distribute load correctly to help columns with out beams and partitions. Due to this fact membranes be used for an utility corresponding to a two-way flat slab. If Slab just isn’t flat slabs then it may be outlined as Membrane. Bear in mind, if slab is outlined as membrane Finite Ingredient Meshing should be prevented.

Skinny Shell Ingredient

A skinny shell may be outlined as shell components which have a thickness which is small in comparison with its different dimensions (ie size and width) and wherein deformations usually are not giant in comparison with thickness. In airplane & Out of airplane stiffness shall be calculated by this system by performing evaluation. It’s to be stored in thoughts that, Meshing throughout Finite factor Evaluation is obligatory for modeling such kind of factor.

Fig 2. Shell components, traits

Skinny shell formulation follows a Kirchhoff utility. The Kirchhoff-Love speculation demonstrates, a kinematic constraint that’s assumed to be legitimate for the deformations of a three-dimensional physique when certainly one of its dimensions is far smaller than the opposite two, as is the case for skinny shell. Kirchhoff-Love speculation neglects transverse shear deformation, the place the cross-section perpendicular to the mid airplane stays straight & perpendicular to the mid airplane on the finish of the deformation. Consequently, the physique will ignore the shear deformation and stress within the through-thickness route.

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Fig 3. Skinny versus Thick earlier than and after deformation

Thick Shell Ingredient

Skinny shells don’t contemplate the stress within the route perpendicular to the shell floor. The principle distinction between skinny and thick shell formulation is the inclusion of transverse shear deformation in plate-bending habits.

Thick shells are ruled by the Mindlin-Reissner (thick shell) concept, which accounts for shear habits. Thick-plate formulation as defined by Mindlin-Reissner, has no impact upon membrane (in-plane) habits, solely plate-bending (out-of-plane) habits. Thick shells are able to representing transverse shear deformation within the mannequin whereas skinny shells don’t. Because the shell thickness decreases, the issue tends to narrate extra to Kirchhoff (skinny shell) concept which neglects the inclusion of transverse shear deformation. This habits is just about much like the skinny (Euler-Bernoulli) vs. comparability of thick (Timoshenko) beams. Timoshenko assumes the identical as a skinny shell, however the cross part is now not perpendicular to the deformed midplane. (See the Determine 3.) Thicker shells the place shear results turn out to be noticeable may be precisely modeled utilizing Thick-Shell factor.

We will say usually that the contribution of shear deformation turns into important when the ratio between the thickness and the span of plate-bending curvature is roughly 1:20 or 1:10. For ratio all the way down to 1:5 or 1:4, the formulation itself is enough. Understand that, this ratio relies upon upon the projected span of curvature, shell thickness could also be bigger than the precise plan dimensions of the shell object.

Typical thickness for skinny shell is <5% whilst thick shell theory applies within the 5-10% range. Anything significantly >10% shouldn’t be modeled utilizing plate theories. The next assumption generally is a nice information to get began in utilizing shells vs stable fashions: Let h is the everyday thickness of a element whereas L is its typical size. When the ratio, h/L is giant, shear deformation is at its most significance and the consumer ought to use stable components. When h/L is small, transverse shear deformation just isn’t vital and skinny shell components are chosen. The formulation beneath shows the h/L and what components could also be used to mannequin it.

Thick-plate formulation is your best option for the purposes the place, Shear deformation tends to turn out to be vital when shell thickness is larger than roughly 1/fifth to 1/tenth of the span of plate-bending curvature. Shearing can also turn out to be important in areas the place bending-stress concentrations happen. This focus happens close to openings or re-entrant corners and close to sudden adjustments in thickness or help circumstances.

Thick-plate formulation is ideally really helpful usually as a result of it tends to supply extra correct outcomes, though it’s barely stiffer. It’s preferable even for thin-plate bending issues wherein shear deformation is really negligible. Nonetheless there stays an issue. The accuracy of thick-plate formulation is delicate to mesh distortion and enormous side ratios, due to this fact in such circumstances when shear deformation is understood to be small Thick Plate formulation shouldn’t be used.

Membrane Ingredient

Membrane is used to switch the load to the beams with out contemplating the energy and stiffness contributed by the slab. It distributes the load in a yield line like trapezoidal and triangular hundreds to the beams as defined within the determine beneath.

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Fig 4. Load switch mechanism from membrane to beam

One factor to notice is that Defining slab as membrane generally causes numerous errors, particularly when the mannequin just isn’t orthogonal. Membrane will solely work if there are surrounding beams in any respect 4 instructions. If any beam is lacking, this system divides the triangular or trapezoidal hundreds as level hundreds to the supporting columns.

At areas the place the membrane assumptions can’t be met and we want for our design to be constant ignoring the slab energy, we are able to outline a shell with a lowered out of airplane bending stiffness.

A Comparability of the variations between Skinny Shell and Membrane

Membrane SlabShell Slab (thin-shell)
No out of airplane bending stiffnessOut of airplane bending stiffness thought of
In airplane bending stiffness thought ofIn airplane bending stiffness thought of
Distributes load to help beams/partitions utilizing tributary space algorithmsMakes use of the stiffness of the slab and the FEA evaluation to distribute hundreds to help beams, partitions or columns.
Shouldn’t be used for two-way flat slabsCan be utilized for two-way flat slabs
Can be utilized for one-way slabsCan be utilized for one-way slabs provided that bending stiffness modifiers are altered accordingly
Ought to solely be used for slabs that are supported by beams or partitionsCan be utilized for both slabs supported by beams and partitions or self-supporting slab
Outcomes don’t give deflected formOutcomes give deflected form
Slab design just isn’t obtainable in ETABS. Slab needs to be designedSlabs may be designed in ETABS (from 2016 variations) and CSI SAFE.
Get a conservative worth of beam secondTake contribution of slab due to this fact much less conservative
Run time is much lessRun time is extra
Meshing ought to be preventedMeshing is important
Can be utilized to assign a technique slabCan’t be used to assign a technique slab
Solely may be utilized for 4 facet slab surrounded by beamsMight be utilized to irregular formed slabs

For instance we are able to see the next mannequin to your comfort.

Right here we are able to see, second and thus reinforcement is much less for beams when slab is modeled as shell. We will additionally see ETABS doesn’t present any evaluation and design of slabs when modeled as Membrane. Additionally membrane doesn’t present any evaluation of slabs.

In conclusion we are able to say that, Totally different corporations have completely different kinds of utilizing
ETABS software program relying on their understanding. Nonetheless, understanding the philosophy of ETABS is a very powerful factor for a modeler in order that the modeler can be certain that his mannequin is underneath management.


  1. https://wiki.csiamerica.com/show/kb/Skinny+vs.+Thick+shells
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/shells-vs-solids-finite-element-analysis-quick-review-kuusisto-pe-/
  3. https://help.e-construct.in/portal/en/kb/articles/what-are-difference-between-the-thin-shell-thick-shell-membrane-element-and-layered-uses-and- applications-why
  4. https://actingcollegeses.com/library/acting-questions/learn/432717-what-is-the-difference-between-shell-thin-and-shell-thick-in-sap
  5. https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-a-thin-shell-a-thick-shell-and-a-solid-in-finite-element-analysis
  6. https://www.cati.com/weblog/solidworks-simulation-thick-versus-thin-shell-elements/
  7. https://www.slideshare.web/neikrof/membrane-plate-shell?qid=0bb1eeaa-79c5-4635-8f3a-48dbef1b4850&v=&b=&from_search=1
  8. https://manuals.dianafea.com/d101/Concept/node42.html
  9. https://sheerforceeng.com/shell-vs-membrane-which-one-to-use-in-etabs/


Engr. Shafiqur Rahman

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