Modeling Glass Railing | Tips for Input in RFEM
The architectural requirements for railing systems are very demanding and usually require a high degree of transparency. Glass railings, which do not require a visible support frame, offer a possible solution.
Types of Modeling
The modeling is best done directly in RFEM. Two different options are available. On the one hand, a railing can be represented as a wall structure; on the other hand, it can be represented by a solid model. Both variants have their advantages. In the first option, fewer FE elements are generated, so a shorter calculation time can be expected, and the modeling effort is very easy. Representation by solid elements, however, makes it possible to represent an accurate structural behavior when using, for example, laminated glass (shear coupling). Both options allow for straight and curved shapes. Therefore, we recommend estimating the requirements for the calculation before starting the modeling, then selecting the modeling type.
Options for Representing Supports
In the case of glass railings without further frame construction, the fastening type is usually carried out by means of a restraint or clamping in the lower area of the pane. This restraint can be represented by means of springs in RFEM. An arrangement of fixed line supports would also be possible, but could lead to the effect of an excessive load introduction in the support area. In reality, compliance will occur with this kind of restraint, which is why modeling by means of flexible springs is recommended.
Loading and Evaluation of Results
Loads from self-weight and external influences (for example, horizontal live loads) can be applied to the structural system by different load cases and combined with the corresponding safety factors. The self-weight is determined internally by the specific weight of the material used and applied by default to the self-weight load case. Additional loads can be assigned via point, line, or surface loads in the system.
The results are evaluated by comparing the tensile stresses occurring in the system. Glass has the property of having a very high compressive strength, but reacting in a very brittle manner when tensile stresses occur. Therefore, only tensile stresses are analyzed in the design. These have to be considered meticulously. Locations of singularity must not be disregarded or neglected. Furthermore, you should try to remove these locations from the system by means of FE mesh refinements or geometry changes in order to avoid generating any damage due to under-design.
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Ulrich Lex
Product Engineering & Customer Support
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Building Model is one of the special solution add-ons in RFEM 6. It is an advantageous tool for modeling with which building stories can be created and manipulated easily. Building Model can be activated at the beginning of the modelling process and afterwards.
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The calculation is now optimized utilizing a multi-core processor technology. It enables parallel calculations of linear load cases and load combinations by several processors without additional demands on the RAM: The stiffness matrix has to be created only once. Thus, even large systems can be calculated with the fast direct solver.
For models where many load combinations have to be calculated, several solvers (one per core) are started in parallel. Each solver then calculates a load combination. This leads to a better utilization of the cores.
The development of the deformation is displayed in a diagram during the calculation. This allows for good assessment of the convergence behavior.
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Structural engineering software for finite element analysis (FEA) of planar and spatial structural systems consisting of plates, walls, shells, members (beams), solids and contact elements
Design of single-layer, laminated and insulating glass