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What are the differences between implicit and explicit?

In static analysis, there is no effect of mass (inertia) or of damping. In dynamic analysis, nodal forces associated with mass/inertia and damping are included.

Static analysis is done using an implicit solver in LS-DYNA. Dynamic analysis can be done via the explicit solver or the implicit solver.


In nonlinear implicit analysis, solution of each step requires a series of trial solutions (iterations) to establish equilibrium within a certain tolerance. In explicit analysis, no iteration is required as the nodal accelerations are solved directly.

The time step in explicit analysis must be less than the Courant time step (time it takes a sound wave to travel across an element). Implicit transient analysis has no inherent limit on the size of the time step. As such, implicit time steps are generally several orders of magnitude larger than explicit time steps.  

Implicit analysis requires a numerical solver to invert the stiffness matrix once or even several times over the course of a load/time step. This matrix inversion is an expensive operation, especially for large models. Explicit doesn't require this step.

Explicit analysis handles nonlinearities with relative ease as compared to implicit analysis. This would include treatment of contact and material nonlinearities.


In explicit dynamic analysis, nodal accelerations are solved directly (not iteratively) as the inverse of the diagonal mass matrix times the net nodal force vector where net nodal force includes contributions from exterior sources (body forces, applied pressure, contact, etc.), element stress, damping, bulk viscosity, and hourglass control. Once accelerations are known at time n, velocities are calculated at time n+1/2, and displacements at time n+1. From displacements comes strain. From strain comes stress. And the cycle is repeated.