SOFTWARE > PLAXIS > Plaxis 2D Professional

[ Features ]

Plaxis 2D Professional V8.6 Features

Input features

Graphical input of geometry models

The input of soil layers, structures, construction stages, loads and boundary conditions is based on convenient CAD drawing procedures, which allows for a detailed modelling of the geometry cross-section. From this geometry model, a 2D finite element mesh is easily generated.

Automatic mesh generation

Plaxis allows for fully automatic generation of unstructured finite element meshes with options for global and local mesh refinement. The mesh may contain thousands of elements.

High-order elements

Quadratic 6-node and 4th order 15-node triangular elements are available to model the deformations and stresses in the soil.


Special plate elements are used to model the bending of retaining walls, tunnel linings, shells, and other slender structures. The behaviour of these elements is defined using a flexural rigidity, an axial stiffness and an ultimate bending moment. A plastic hinge may develop for elastoplastic plates, as soon as the ultimate moment is mobilised. Plates with interfaces may be used to perform realistic analyses of geotechnical structures.

Hinges and rotation springs

A hinge is a connection that allows for a discontinuous rotation in the point of connection (joint). Hinges may be introduced to create joints where plate ends can rotate freely, or with rotation springs for connections that are neither pinned nor fully fixed.


Joint elements are available to model soilstructure interaction. For example, these elements may be used to simulate the thin zone of intensely shearing material at the contact between a tunnel lining and the surrounding soil. Values of interface friction angle and adhesion are generally not the same as the friction angle and cohesion of the surrounding soil.


Elastoplastic spring elements are used to model anchors and struts. The behaviour of these elements is defined using an axial stiffness and a maximum force. A special option exists for the analyses of pre-stressed ground anchors and excavation supports.


Geogrids (or geotextiles) are often used in practice for the construction of reinforced embankments or soil retaining structures. These elements can be simulated in Plaxis by the use of special tension elements. It is often convenient to combine these elements with interfaces to model the interaction with the surrounding soil.


The Plaxis program offers a convenient option to create circular and non-circular tunnels using arcs and lines. Plates and interfaces may be used to model the tunnel lining and the interaction with the surrounding soil. Fully isoparametric elements are used to model the curved boundaries within the mesh. Various methods have been implemented to analyse the deformations that occur as a result of various methods of tunnel construction.

Boundary conditions

Fixities are prescribed displacements equal to zero. These conditions can be applied to geometry lines as well as to geometry points in x and y directions. Prescribed displacements are special conditions that can be imposed on geometry lines to control the displacements of these lines. A convenient option exists to use standard boundary conditions that apply in most cases.


Two independent load systems can be used to apply point loads and distributed loads. Point loads may be used at any geometry point, whereas distributed loads may be applied to any geometry line, not only limited to the geometry boundary. Loads values can be changed in the “staged construction” mode and/or using load multipliers
Soil behaviour
Material set database

Material properties for soil, as well as for structural elements are entered in a project database. Material data sets from the projects database may be copied to the global database, for use in other projects.

Mohr-Coulomb model

This robust and simple non-linear model is based on soil parameters that are well-known in engineering practice. Not all non-linear features of soil behaviour are included in this model, however. The Mohr-Coulomb model may be used to compute realistic support pressures for tunnel faces, ultimate loads for footings, etc. It may also be used to calculate a safety factor using a ‘phi-c reduction’ approach.

Advanced soil models

In addition to the Mohr-Coulomb model, Plaxis offers a variety of advanced soil models. As a general second-order model, an elastoplastic type of hyperbolic model, called the Hardening Soil model, is available. To model accurately the time-dependent and logarithmic compression behaviour of normally consolidated soft soils, a Creep model is available, which is referred to as the Soft Soil Creep model. In addition to these soil models, a special model is available to analyse the anisotropic behaviour of jointed rock.

User-defined soil models

A special feature in Plaxis Version 8 is the user-defined soil models option. This feature enables users to include self-programmed soil models in the calculations. This option is primarily of interest for researchers and scientists at universities and research institutes, but it may also be useful for practising engineers. In coming years, validated and well-documented user-defined soil models may become available via the internet.

Steady state pore pressure

Complex pore pressure distributions may be generated on the basis of a combination of phreatic levels or direct input of water pressures. As an alternative, a steadystate groundwater flow calculation can be performed to calculate the pore pressure distribution in problems that involve steady flow or seepage.

Groundwater flow analyses

Complex pore pressure distributions may be generated on the basis of a two-dimensional groundwater flow analysis. Drains and wells can be modelled using special elements. The groundwater head is conveniently entered as a phreatic level.

Excess pore pressures

Plaxis distinguishes between drained and undrained soils to model permeable sands as well as nearly impermeable clays. Excess pore pressures are computed during plastic calculations when undrained soil layers are subjected to loads. Undrained loading situations are often decisive for the stability of geotechnical structures.

Calculation features
The Calculations program considers only deformation analyses and distinguishes between a Plastic calculation, a Consolidation analysis and a safety analysis. Optionally, dynamic calculations can be performed. For each project several calculation phases may be specified prior to calculation.
Automatic load stepping

The Plaxis program can be run in an automatic step size and automatic time step selection mode. This avoids the need for users to select suitable load increments and it guarantees an efficient and robust calculation process.

Arc-Length control

This feature enables accurate computations of collapse loads and failure mechanisms to be carried out. In conventional loadcontrolled calculations the iterative procedure breaks down as soon as the load is increased beyond the peak load. With arc-length control, however, the applied load is scaled down to capture the peak load and any residual loads.

Staged construction

This powerful Plaxis feature enables a realistic simulation of construction and excavation processes by activating and deactivating clusters of elements, application of loads, changing of water tables, etc. This procedure allows for a realistic assessment of stresses and displacements as caused, for example, by soil excavation during an underground construction project.


The decay of excess pore pressures with time can be computed using a consolidation analysis. A consolidation analysis requires the input of permeability coefficients in the various soil layers. Automatic time stepping procedures make the analysis robust and easy-to-use. The “Staged Construction” option is available in a consolidation analysis.

Updated lagrangian analyses

Using this option, the finite element mesh is continuously updated during the calculation. For some situations, a conventional small strain analysis may show a significant change of geometry. In these situations it is advisable to perform a more accurate Updated Lagrangian calculation, which is called Updated Mesh in Plaxis. This option is available for all types of calculations.

Safety factors

The factor of safety is usually defined as the ratio of the failure load to the working load. This definition is suitable for foundation structures, but not for sheet-pile walls or embankments. For this latter type of structure it is more appropriate to use the soil mechanics definition of a safety factor, which is the ratio of the available shear strength to the minimum shear strength needed for equilibrium. Plaxis can be used to compute this factor of safety using a ‘phi-c reduction’ procedure.

Calculation Manager

In the calculation manager several projects can be selected for subsequent calculations. This option allows for efficient computer usage during silent periods, alternatively this option is convenient for use in parametric studies.

Output features

Velocities and accelarations

Additional to the output from a static calculation the velocities and accelerations can be shown. Just like any other output it is possible to view velocities and accelerations for the whole geometry at a fixed time in the Plaxis Output program or view the velocities and accelerations in time for a fixed point with the Plaxis Curves program.

The Plaxis postprocessor has enhanced graphical features for displaying computational results. Values of displacements, stresses, strains and structural forces can be obtained from the output tables. Plots and tables can be send to output devices or to the Windows® clipboard to export them to other software.

Graphical output for deformations is available as: deformed mesh, total or incremental displacements and as total or incremental strains. All displacement and strains graphs can be visualised as displacement arrows, contour lines or contour shadings.


Graphical output for stresses is available as: effective stresses, total stresses, Cartesian stresses, pore pressures and excess pore pressures. Stresses can be visualised in contour shadings as well.

Structural forces & Displacements

Graphs and tables are available for direct output of axial forces, shear forces, hoop forces and bending moments of structural elements. Besides output of stresses the displacements of the structural elements can be visualised. Both forces and displacements can be plotted per phase or as an envelope to cover all previous phases.


This convenient option is available in Plaxis to create graphs for all types of stresses and displacements in any desired cross-section of the geometry.

Report generator

A report generator has been implemented to provide a report of input data and output results that can be further edited in Word.


Video animations can be created for all graphic output including plots of deformation and forces for structural elements.

Load displacement curves & stress paths

A special tool is available for drawing load-displacement curves, stress and strain paths, stress-strain diagrams and time-settlement curves. The visualisation of stress paths provides a valuable insight into local soil behaviour and allows a detailed analysis of the results of a Plaxis calculation.



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