The calculation of the normals (subroutine “gen3dnor.f”) in the nodes is performed using a rather complicated algorithm explained in Sections 6.2.14 and 6.2.33. In a node several normals can exist, think for instance of a node on the fold of a roof. Each normal is used to perform an expansion, i.e. in a node with two normals two expansions are performed which partially overlap (Figure 70). Theoretically, as many expansions can be needed as there are elements to which the node belongs to. Therefore, to store the expansions and the normals a structure is used similar to the field kon to store the topology of the elements.

The field kon is a one-dimensional field containing the topology of all elements, one after the other. The entry ipkon(i) points to the location in field kon just before the start of the topology of element i, i.e. the first node of element i is located at position ipkon(i)+1 in field kon, the last node at position ipkon(i)+numnod, where numnod is the number of nodes of the element, e.g. 20 for a 20-node element. Thus, local position m of element j corresponds to global node number kon(ipkon(j)+m). Now, a similar structure is used for the normals and nodes of the expansions since these variables are linked to a local position within an element rather than to a global node number. To this end the two-dimensional field iponor and one-dimensional fields xnor and knor are used.

The entry iponor(1,ipkon(j)+m) points to the location of the normal at local position m of element j within field xnor, i.e. the three components of the normal are stored in xnor(iponor(1,ipkon(j)+m)+1), xnor(iponor(1,ipkon(j)+m)+2) and xnor(iponor(1,ipkon(j)+m)+3). In the same way the entry iponor(2,ipkon(j)+m) points to the location of the new nodes of the expansion at local position m of element j within field knor, i.e. the three new node numbers are stored at knor(iponor(2,ipkon(j)+m)+n), n=1,2,3. The order of the node numbers is illustrated in Figure 69. This applies to the expansion of two-dimensional elements. For the expansion of beam elements xnor contains six entries: three entries for unit vector 1 and three entries for unit vector 2 (Figure 73), i.e. xnor(iponor(1,ipkon(j)+m)+1),...,xnor(iponor(1,ipkon(j)+m)+6). Since the expansion of a beam element leads to 8 extra nodes (Figure 74) 8 entries are provided in field knor. The field xnor is initialized with the values from keyword card *NORMAL.

The procedure runs as follows: for a node i all 2D elements to which the node belongs are determined. Then, the normals on these elements are determined using the procedure explained in Section 6.2.14 starting with the normals predefined by a *NORMAL keyword card. Notice that extra normals are also defined at thickness discontinuities, offset discontinuities or element type changes (e.g. a plane stress element adjacent to a shell element). Therefore, this step is more about how many different expansions are needed rather than different normals: if, for instance the thickness of a flat plate changes discontinuously, two different expansions are needed at the discontinuity nodes although the normal does not change. Next, all beam elements to which node i belongs are determined and normals are determined in a similar way. For each normal appropriate nodes are generate for the expansion (three for 2D elements, eight for 1D elements). If overall only one normal suffices, no knot exists and no rigid body needs to be defined, unless the rotational degrees of freedom in the node are constrained or moments applied. If more than one normal ensues or the rotational degrees of freedom are addressed by the user in any way, a rigid body is generated. In a rigid body definition all expansion nodes of shells and beam participate, for plane stress, plane strain or axisymmetric elements only the midside nodes take part.

Caution is due to the fact that the entries in the fields kon and iponor do not correspond to the same nodes any more after leaving gen3delem.f. This is because the original element topology of the elements is shifted in field kon to allow the storage of the expanded topology. For instance, suppose that element i is a S8 element. Upon entering gen3delem.f the topology of this element is stored in entries (kon(ipkon(i)+j,j=1,8) and soon afterwards the pointers to the expanded nodes and normals are stored in (ipkon(ipkon(i)+j,j=1,8). However, upon leaving gen3delem.f the original topology is shifted to (kon(ipkon(i)+20+j,j=1,8) (a S8 element is expanded into a 20-node element) and the expanded topology is stored in (kon(ipkon(i)+j),j=1,20). Field iponor, however, is not changed.