Continuum Mechanics and Thermodynamics

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 1039–1057 | Cite as

Discrete is it enough? The revival of Piola–Hencky keynotes to analyze three-dimensional Elastica

  • Emilio TurcoEmail author
Original Article


Complex problems such as those concerning the mechanics of materials can be confronted only by considering numerical simulations. Analytical methods are useful to build guidelines or reference solutions but, for general cases of technical interest, they have to be solved numerically, especially in the case of large displacements and deformations. Probably continuous models arose for producing inspiring examples and stemmed from homogenization techniques. These techniques allowed for the solution of some paradigmatic examples but, in general, always require a discretization method for solving problems dictated by the applications. Therefore, and also by taking into account that computing powers are nowadays more largely available and cheap, the question arises: why not using directly a discrete model for 3D beams? In other words, it could be interesting to formulate a discrete model without using an intermediate continuum one, as this last, at the end, has to be discretized in any case. These simple considerations immediately evoke some very basic models developed many years ago when the computing powers were practically inexistent but the problem of finding simple solutions to beam deformation problem was already an emerging one. Actually, in recent years, the keynotes of Hencky and Piola attracted a renewed attention [see, one for all, the work (Turco et al. in Zeitschrift für Angewandte Mathematik und Physik 67(4):1–28, 2016)]: generalizing their results, in the present paper, a novel directly discrete three-dimensional beam model is presented and discussed, in the framework of geometrically nonlinear analysis. Using a stepwise algorithm based essentially on Newton’s method to compute the extrapolations and on the Riks’ arc-length method to perform the corrections, we could obtain some numerical simulations showing the computational effectiveness of presented model: Indeed, it presents a convenient balance between accuracy and computational cost.


Three-dimensional inextensible elastic beams Large deformations Lagrangian models 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Architecture, Design and Urban planning (DADU)University of SassariAlghero, SassariItaly

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