User Area > Advice
Nonlinear Loadcase versus Load Increment
Each load attribute dataset contains just one load type and, in general,
a loadcase comprises one or more load datasets which have been assigned to this
loadcase.
The number of load cases that may be applied to a structure is only limited by the
capacity of the computer to solve the inevitably larger analysis.
An example of the MODELLER loadcase treeview structure for three loadcases is as
follows
Model data
1:Loadcase 1
2:Loadcase 2
3:Loadcase 3
Linear analyses enforce the assumption that the stiffness of the structure does not
change throughout the solution. This means that the stiffness matrix need only be
evaluated and inverted once and the displacements for any number of loadcases computed
directly from the static finite element equilibrium equation (in the back substitution
phase of the solution):
d = F K^{1}
Because each load is applied to the original stiffness matrix, the effects of each
loadcase are completely independent of each other. In other word, each load case is
considered individually and has no memory of either previous loads or stress states.
Because of this and as a result of the stiffness matrix being linear, the same result
exactly will be obtained from applying the total load in one load case (case (2) below) or
ramped over multiple load cases (case (1) below). Examining the effects of applying twice
the load magnitude for a specified load case may be accomplished simply by using the load
combination facility.
Case 1

Case 2

Model data 
Model data 
1:Loadcase 1 (magnitude 10kN) 
1:Loadcase 3 (magnitude 30kN) 
2:Loadcase 2 (magnitude 20kN) 

3:Loadcase 3 (magnitude 30kN) 

For nonlinear analyses, it is no longer
possible to obtain a solution that equilibrates a set of
external loads with the internal state of stress and strain
in a direct "onestep" manner as
permitted by linear analyses. This is because the stiffness
of the structure may change at any point. In this case a
solution procedure is adopted in which the load is applied
in a number of increments, enabling a continual "tracking"
of the structural response. The general assumption underlying
the nonlinear analysis procedures is that the history of
loading is important and alters the final stress state of
the structure. See nonlinear
loading incrementation procedures for further information.
A nonlinear analysis may only apply one loadcase at a time. This load case may be
applied over one load increment (manual incrementation) or several load increments
(automatic incrementation).
Consider three loadcases defined at the preprocessing stage:
Model data
1:loadcase
1 (manual load incrementation)
2:loadcase 2 (automatic incrementation – load applied gradually over 5 increments)
3:loadcase 3 (manual load incrementation)
These model loadcases will create the following results
loadcases:
Results file:1
1:Loadcase 1 (manual load incrementation)
2:Loadcase 2 (automatic incrementation – 1st of 5 increments)
3:Loadcase 3 (automatic incrementation – 2nd of 5 increments)
4:Loadcase 4 (automatic incrementation – 3rd of 5 increments)
5:Loadcase 5 (automatic incrementation – 4th of 5 increments)
6:Loadcase 6 (automatic incrementation – 5th of 5 increments)
7:Loadcase 7 (manual load incrementation)
Loadcases 1 and 7 represent the manual load incrementation loadcase in the model data
and load increments 2 through 6 are the five gradual steps taken by the second model data
loadcase. Thus the number of results loadcases (increments) will, in general, will be
greater than the number of model loadcases specified.
The correlation between the load cases and the load increments for this example is
given in the following table.
Analysis Type 
Load Case Handling 
Stiffness Matrix Used 
Loadcase correspondence 
Linear Static 
Processed Simultaneously 
Original Stiffness 
One to one correspondence between the model and results
data loadcases 
Nonlinear Static 
Processed Sequentially 
Updated Stiffness 
Each model data loadcase may now span a number of load
increments 
Linear Dynamic 
Processed Sequentially 
Original Stiffness 
One to one correspondence between the model and results
data time steps 
Nonlinear Dynamic 
Processed Sequentially 
Updated Stiffness 
Each model data loadcase may now span a number of time
steps 
For linear and nonlinear dynamics the same concept is
used as that in the nonlinear static solution, but the term load increment is replaced
with time step.
