 ## General

#### How the path results are calculated and why may path and nodal contour plots differ?

• FAQ
Participant

The discrepancy probably is caused by the methods used to extract the stress results that are plotted.
For the contour plot, the stresses are calculated at the element Gaussian points and extrapolated to the element nodes using the element shape functions. At each node, the “unaveraged” element nodal stresses from each element attached to that node are averaged to determine the “averaged” nodal stress. Those nodal stresses are then used to create the contour plot. The values between the nodes are calculated by linearly interpolation.
For the path plot, equally spaced locations along the path are identified (by default, Mechanical uses 47 locations). The stresses at these locations are calculated by extrapolating the Gaussian stresses (from element in which that location lies) using the shape functions. The stresses at those locations are then used to create the contour plot for the path. The path values between those locations are calculated by linearly interpolation.
Thus, the same stress field can produce different contour and path results, especially for coarse meshes. 