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A diaphragm constraint creates links between joints located within a plane such that they move together as a planar diaphragm, rigid against membrane (in-plane) deformation, but susceptible to plate (out-of-plane) deformation and associated effects. Diaphragm constraints relieve numerical accuracy problems which result when floor diaphragms are modeled with very high in-plane stiffness. They also enhance the computational efficiency of dynamic lateral analysis by reducing the size of the eigenvalue formulation.

Plate constraints differ from diaphragm constraints in that plate constraints are flexible in-plane and rigid against out-of-plane bending. Plate constraints are useful for connecting frames and shells to solid objects, and may be implemented in detailed beam models to ensure that plane sections remain plane.

Reported numerical problems for diaphragm constraints

CSI Software creates a joint at the center-of-mass of a diaphragm constraint to enable lateral-load application. Since this joint, denoted by a ~ prefix, is constrained against in-plane deformation, the out-of-plane stiffness components are set to zero. Given a diaphragm constraint along the global Z-axis, these components correlate with the UZ, RX, and RY DOF.

An error message may occur which informs users of this zero stiffness condition. This message may be ignored in that analysis proceeds accordingly, and results are not affected in any way. Analysis may be run using the Advanced Solver to avoid the reporting of this message.