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Abaqus 2020: What's New?

Posted by Christine Obbink-Huizer

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    Abaqus 2020 is available. The installation is similar to that of Abaqus 2019, and we have a separate post to guide you through it. Click here for our blog Abaqus 2020: download an installation instructions.

    Here I want to show a few of the modifications, and then provide a list of other improvements so you can check them out yourself if the topic is of interest to you.

    Color Coding in Step-dependent Managers

    A change that is quite obvious when opening one of the step-dependent managers, is that a color coding is now used. For example, in the Boundary Condition Manager green is used when the boundary condition is active step, yellow for modified boundary conditions and red is for deactivated boundary conditions. This provides the user with more overview.

    abaqus 2020_whats new_0_color coding

    Interference Fit in Abaqus/Explicit

    Previously it was possible to do an interference fit in Abaqus/Standard: if there is an initial overlap between two contacting bodies, then this overlap can be removed during the step or during the increment. During the removal, stresses and strains develop. This can for example be used for rubber seals of which the undeformed shape overlaps the part it is connected to.

    Now, this functionality is available in Abaqus/Explicit as well. It can be activated by making a contact initialization of type Explicit:

    abaqus 2020_whats new_1_contact initialization

    In the Edit Contact Initialization dialog box, you know have the option to treat initial overclosures as interference fits:

    abaqus 2020_whats new_2_contact initialization dialog

    To apply this contact initialization, assign it to a pair of surfaces in the general contact definition:

    abaqus 2020_whats new_3_contact initialization assignment

    Include Contact Properties Based on Material Definitions

    While contact properties, especially friction, usually depend on the material properties of the underlying surfaces, often knowledge on this is not included in a model, because the effort to define all the relevant surfaces and assign appropriate properties is considered too large. The same contact properties are then assigned throughout the model.

    It is now possible to assign contact properties for general contact based on material names, rather than surface definitions. This option is available both from Abaqus/Standard and Abaqus/Explicit.

    Create the interaction and interaction properties as normally. From the keywords manager, include

    *Contact property assignment

    Material1, material2, interactionProperty, material, material

    as indicated in the figure below:

    abaqus_2020_whats new_4_contact_material

    Abaqus will then use an internally generated surface with the name of the material. This surface is available in the .odb (also when a data check is performed). Go to the display group manager, and select surface and internal sets:

    abaqus_2020_whats new_5_show_material_surface

    Upgrade of Python Version and Inclusion of Scipy, Sympy and Matplotlib

    The python version used by Abaqus 2020 is 2.7.15 (previously this was 2.7.3). For numpy, which has been shipped with Abaqus for some time, now version 1.15.4 is included. Additionally, the libraries SciPy, SymPy and Matplotlib, included along with Abaqus. These are commonly used by Abaqus users. Including them with Abaqus makes the use of these libraries easier, because it removes the hassle of finding the correct version.

    Element Deletion Based on Distorted Elements

    Elements can be deleted based on *Damage initiation and *Damage evolution. The actual damage process is then simulated. In Abaqus/Explicit, elements can become severely distorted without damaging so much that they are deleted. Their stable time increment can become very small, so that the analysis will take very long. It is now possible to delete elements based on their distortion.

    This is only available via the keywords, using DELETE DISTORTED ELEMEN=YES in the *SECTION CONTROLS:

    abaqus_2020_whats new_6_element deletion distortion

    Elements can be deleted based on their stable time inrement, volume or area, characteristic length or the ratio of these values to the original value.

    Synchronizing Viewport Animations Now From Linked Viewports Manager

    One of the features I really like in Abaqus, is the possibility to animate multiple viewports in a linked manner. I use this to show movies with different but synchronized views and also to show the position in a graph that matches the current (deformation) state shown. Previously you had to go to the Animation Options to do this, while for other linking options there was the Linked Viewports Manager.

    To make things more consistent, in Abaqus 2020 animations have to be linked via the Linked Viewports Manager. Doing this via the Animation Options is no longer possible.

    abaqus_2020_whats new_7_link viewport animations

    Other Improvements Include:


    • Solidworks files (sldprt, sldasm) can now directly be imported into Abaqus.
    • Multiple unconnected edges can be swept/extruded at the same time.
    • Hyperfoam material test data can be evaluated.
    • Geometry can be color coded based on cells or faces.
    • Constraints can be copied between models if named sets/surfaces are used.
    • A local coordinate system can be used when performing a query.
    • The *tensile failure option can be specified from Abaqus/CAE.
    • Nodes and elements can be renumbered from the assembly module instead of the part module.
    • Linear and radial patterning as well as replacing of model instances if possible (previously only available for part instances)
    • You can skip directly to any buffer for keywords editor page navigation
    • It is possible to use specified limits for the legend in the contour plots instead of the spectrum min/max.

    Contact and Constraints:

    • Thermal expansion of rigid-like features can be included (based on distance to reference point).
    • There is improved accuracy and convergence for stiff, permanent, cohesive contact.
    • The cstatus output is modified to include a ‘bonded’ state, as well as ‘sticking’ and ‘slipping’.
    • The small sliding formulation is now also available for general contact in Abaqus/Standard.
    • It is possible to store offsets to resolve unintended initial overclosures and gaps for small-sliding and tied contact pairs (no adjust).
    • Rate-dependent damage of cohesive contact behaviour is included in Abaqus/Explicit.
    • Anisotropic frictional coefficients can be defined in user subroutine FRIC_COEF.
    • One-dimensional pure heat transfer and coupled electrical heat elements can now be included in general contact. These elements act as master surfaces with the edge-to-surface formulation for contact interactions in pure heat transfer and coupled thermal-electrical analyses.
    • Fluid inflators are available from Abaqus/CAE

    Analysis Procedures:

    • Substantial computational performance gain is achieved for linear dynamic procedures.
    • Several enhancements to the steady-state transport inertia loading functionality provide more control over the convergence characteristics at high rolling speeds and simulation run time.
    • The default iterative solver controls are changed to improve the solution accuracy and nonlinear convergence.
    • You can now specify residual modes via load cases in a natural frequency extraction procedure.
    • New energy variables are available in direct-solution steady-state dynamic analyses.
    • Improved performance is achieved for recovering nodal results for the computationally intensive modal summation methods available in response spectrum analyses.
    • The size of the models that Abaqus/Explicit can solve is increased significantly with this release. 

    Analysis Techniques:

    • You can now create a cluster areas geometric restriction for sensitivity-based topology optimization in Abaqus/CAE
    • Several enhancements are available for an adjoint sensitivity analysis
    • You can now specify translation, rotation, and reflection transformations to define the position of a matrix subassembly
    • Several enhancements are available for transferring data in an import analysis
    • Abaqus/Standard now offers a suite of analysis capabilities aimed at providing scalable and predictive simulation of 3D printing processes
    • The lumped kinetic molecular method is used for airbag deployment analysis
    • The XFEM-based nonlocal approach is further enhanced to include both nonlocal stress/strain averaging and crack normal smoothing to improve the computed crack propagation direction.


    • You can now define the effective modulus for a user-defined material in Abaqus/Explicit.
    • You can now model plasticity using a nonquadratic yield surface, such as the isotropic Tresca, Hosford, or anisotropic Barlat yield surface.
    • You can now include the static recovery term in the definition of the kinematic hardening component.
    • You can now define Chaboche rate-dependent yield stress.
    • Three new creep models are now available in Abaqus/Standard: the time power law model, the power law model, and a new form of the Bergstrom-Boyce model. The new form of the Bergstrom-Boyce model is also available in Abaqus/Explicit.
    • You can now include thermorheologically simple temperature effects in frequency domain viscoelasticity.
    • You can now model low-density, highly compressible elastomeric foams in Abaqus/Standard.
    • You can now specify material failure criteria and allow element deletion for the concrete damaged plasticity material model in Abaqus/Explicit.
    • You can now use material damping with equation of state materials in Abaqus/Explicit.
    • You can now define the transverse shear moduli to be used to compute the transverse shear stiffness for shells and beams.


    • Coupled temperature-displacement cohesive elements and coupled temperature-pore pressure cohesive elements are now available in Abaqus/Standard.
    • Shear panel element SHEAR4 is now available in Abaqus/Standard.
    • Linear pyramid heat transfer element is available in Abaqus/Standard
    • Shell element deletion based on integration point status is now available in Abaqus/Explicit.
    • Symmetric modeling using fluid pipe elements is now available in Abaqus/Standard.
    • In Abaqus/Explicit analyses using cohesive elements with traction-separation responses, you can now request equivalent nominal strain and equivalent nominal strain rate for both field and history output.
    • The convergence of heat transfer analyses with temperature-dependent conductivity using linear brick or quadrilateral elements is improved.
    • Symmetric modeling using cohesive elements is now available in Abaqus/Standard.


    • You can specify a unit system in the model to use when translating to other formats.
    • Additional command line options that improve the usability of optimization execution are now available.
    • Enhancements for exchanging matrix data between Abaqus and Nastran improve the usability of the associated workflows.
    • You can now create Flexible Body Interface (FBI) files in an Abaqus/Standard.
    • Parallel execution of element operations for models using substructures is available through SMP-based parallelization.
    • New output variables are available to help you better understand the inertial and stabilization loads applied to a mesh during a steady-state transport analysis.
    • Field and history output of the element material point temperature gradient can be obtained as data file printout or visualized in the Visualization module of Abaqus/CAE.
    • In Abaqus/Explicit you can now halt the analysis, concluding the current step when a certain condition is reached and continue with the next step.
    • Utility routines to access data defined in an input file from Abaqus/Explicit user subroutines: Table collection functionality, previously available only in Abaqus/Standard, is now available in Abaqus/Explicit.
    • There are some scripting command changes.

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