Geotechnical
PLAXIS 3D
Three-dimensional reliability

PLAXIS 3D is a finite element package intended for three-dimensional analysis of deformation and stability in geotechnical engineering. It is equipped with features to deal with various aspects of complex geotechnical structures and construction processes using robust and theoretically sound computational procedures.

With PLAXIS 3D, complex geometry of soil and structures can be defined in two different modes. These modes are specifically defined for Soil or Structural modelling. Independent solid models can automatically be intersected and meshed.

The staged constructions mode enables a realistic simulation of construction and excavation processes by activating and deactivating soil volume clusters and structural objects, application of loads, changing of water tables, etc.

The output consists of a full suite of visualization tools to check details of the complex inner structure of a full 3D underground soil-structure model.

PLAXIS 3D is a user friendly 3d geotechnical program offering flexible and interoperable geometry, realistic simulation of construction stages, a robust and reliable calculation kernel, and comprehensive and detailed post-processing, making it a complete solution for your daily geotechnical design and analysis.

New Features

1 Generating Soil Stratigraphy From CPT Logs (VIP)

PLAXIS 3D 2013 allows you to import CPT field data in the *.GEF format. You can also import in ASCII and CPT format, provided that the files are properly formatted.

You should first create an empty borehole and in the subsequent Modify Soil Layers window that pops up you need to select the new tab sheet called “Field data”. The CPT data can then be loaded into the program by pressing the green cross and selecting the relevant file.

Once the field data is loaded, it needs to be assigned to the borehole and you will need to select the interpretation method from the drop down menu. Currently only the CUR 3 layers method is available.

The minimal layer thickness can be adjusted to change the suggested soil layering to fit your own interpretation.
After you are satisfied with the suggested soil layering, you will need to press the apply button.

PLAXIS will then generate the soil layering in your model. Take note that you will need to create and assign material properties for each generated layer yourself.

2 Remote Scripting API (VIP)

With this new version we introduce a HTTP Rest-based Advanced Programming Interface with Python wrapper. The Python language will offer more flexibility than the commands that can be run via the native PLAXIS 3D application, since you will be able to create loops, declare initial variables, re-use them or do operations on them or do operations based on IF, THEN, ELSE statements. You can use this programming interface in your work, on the fly to perform complex operations, or you can work from a base script, which you can adjust according to for example new project requirements or to easily create variations of the same model. To be able to use the API you should have a valid internet connection.

3 NGI-ADP Model (VIP)

The NGI-ADP model, cam clay type model for anisotropic shear strength is now available in the material models selection menu, for VIP users.

4 SoilTest Parameter Optimisation

The Parameter Optimisation in the SoilTest facility has now also been made available in PLAXIS 3D. This functionality will allow you to optimise your model parameters so that a best fit is obtained between the model results and results of real soil lab tests, or other simulated PLAXIS SoilTests.

For the selected model parameters the lower and upper boundaries can be set and the optimisation algorithm will search for the optimum values within the range, trying to match them to the imported data (the optimisation target). You can also make a selection of points of the imported data, to select which part of the graph you would like to fit the parameters to. The optimised parameters can be reviewed in a graph together with the optimisation target data from the real lab tests. The optimised parameters can finally be copied to the material set.

5 Free Field / Compliant Base Boundaries (Dynamics + VIP)

The new release introduces Free Field boundaries for users that own a Dynamics module and have a VIP subscription. These boundaries can apply the free field motion to the boundaries of your main model while absorbing reflected waves coming from within the main model.

Any users interested in this feature will need to contact us on how to activate this feature. Once activated, the drop-down menu for the boundary conditions in the Staged Construction mode will show the additional option to assign the Free Field behavior to them.

6 End Bearing of Plates

You can now activate end bearing as an option in the material properties window for plates. By switching this option on, PLAXIS will take the effects of end bearing into account via a zone of soil volume elements at the bottom of the plate, in which any kind of soil plasticity is excluded (elastic).

7 Residual Strength in Anchors and Interfaces

This new option for anchors is available in the material properties for anchors. You can select “Elastoplastic with residual strength” via the drop down menu at material type, when you are filling in your parameters. This will allow you to specify the residual force carried by the anchor after reaching the maximum anchor force. The residual strength for Interfaces can be selected as an option in the Interfaces tab of the material properties, when you are creating your soil material.

8 Interface Gap Closure

When the interface tensile strength is reached a gap between soil and structure may occur. Upon compression, the gap must (optionally) first close before compressive stress can develop. This is now taken into account by default, but can be de-activated by un-checking the new checkbox under the “interfaces” tab of the soil material properties window.

9 3D PlaxFlow Module (Optional)

Previously only steady state groundwater flow calculations were possible in the PLAXIS 3D program. With the introduction of the 3D PlaxFlow module, it’s now possible to perform time dependent groundwater flow calculations. Time dependent head and discharge functions for water levels and precipitation can be created and assigned via the Phases menu, or via the Model and Selection Explorers in the Staged Construction or Water Levels modi.

Furthermore, this module includes fully coupled flow-deformation analysis, selectable as a Calculation type from the Phases Window. Lastly, you can now also perform purely groundwater flow calculations via the “Groundwater flow only” mode, selectable as Calculation type in the Phases Window


3D Dynamics
The 3D Dynamics module is an extension to PLAXIS 3D. Geotechnical applications require advanced constitutive models for the simulation of the non linear, time dependent and anisotropic behaviour of soils and/or rock. Although the modelling of the soil itself is an important issue, many projects involve the modelling of structures and the interaction between the structures and the soil.


The Dynamics module offers the tools to analyse the propagation of waves through the soil and their influence on structures. This allows for the analysis of seismic loading as well as vibrations due to construction activities. PLAXIS Dynamics offers the possibility to perform dynamic calculations in individual calculation phases.

3D PlaxFlow

3D PlaxFlow is an add on module to the PLAXIS 3D program. Geotechnical applications require advanced numerical tools and constitutive models for the simulation of the non-linear, time dependent and anisotropic behaviour of soils and/or rock in saturated and partially saturated situations.


For many practical applications it is necessary to take into account both deformation and groundwater flow. For time dependent analysis, this leads to mixed equations of displacement and pore pressures, called coupled hydro-mechanical approach, which have to be solved simultaneously. This type of analysis which is based on Biot’s theory of consolidation enables the user to simultaneously calculate deformation and groundwater flow with time-dependent boundary conditions in saturated and partially saturated soils