Shell Mesh Overview

When using shell elements, the software generates one of the following types of elements depending on the active meshing options for the study:

Draft quality mesh The automatic mesher generates linear triangular shell elements.
High quality mesh The automatic mesher generates parabolic triangular shell elements.

A linear triangular shell element is defined by three corner nodes connected by three straight edges. A parabolic triangular element is defined by three corner nodes, three mid-side nodes, and three parabolic edges. For studies using sheet metals, the thickness of the shells is automatically extracted from the geometry of the model.

To set the desired option for a study, right-click the Mesh icon, select Create Mesh, and expand Advanced.

Shell elements are 2D elements capable of resisting membrane and bending loads.

Linear triangular element Parabolic triangular element

For structural studies, each node in shell elements has six degrees of freedom; three translations and three rotations. The translational degrees of freedom are motions in the global X, Y, and Z directions. The rotational degrees of freedom are rotations about the global X, Y, and Z axes.

For thermal problems, each node has one degree of freedom which is the temperature.

Sheet metal model Shell mesh created at mid-surface
For drop test studies only, sheet metal parts mesh with solid elements.

The software generates a shell mesh automatically for the following geometries:

Sheet metals with uniform thicknesses

Sheet metals mesh with shell elements, except for drop test studies. The software assigns the thickness of shell based on sheet metal thickness. You can edit the default shell definition before running the study, except thickness.

Surface bodies

Surface bodies mesh with shell elements. The software assigns a thin shell formulation to each surface body. You can edit the default shell definition before running the study.

  • The program automatically creates a mixed mesh when solid and surface or sheet metal geometries are included in the same model.
  • A reasonably fine draft quality mesh gives results that are generally similar to results obtained from a high quality mesh with the same number of elements. The difference between the two results increases if the model includes curved geometry.