As an introduction, the most important basics of the limit analysis of the theory of plasticity are introduced. Students who have completed their bachelor’s degree at ETH Zürich are already familiar with the limit analysis procedures from Baustatik, Stahlbeton and Stahlbau. The following short excursion can serve as an introduction for students who are not familiar with the concept, however, it is advisable to deepen your knowledge through self-study. Selected topics are also summarised in the information sheets available under supplementary documents.
The application of limit analysis is motivated in particular by the fact that, in contrast to stress calculations, it delivers clear results. This basic knowledge is over 80 years old (Melan 1938), but unfortunately not generally known and is often not given due attention. This entails the risk that the accuracy of (nonlinear FE) calculations will be overestimated and the importance of ductility underestimated; especially for “new” construction materials with no or limited ductility (e.g. CFRP, GRP or fibre reinforced concrete).