A new technique for modeling rigid bodies undergoing spatial motion using an explicit time-integration finite element code is presented. The key elements of the technique are: (a) use of the total rotation matrix relative to the inertial frame to measure the rotation of the rigid bodies; (b) time-integration of the rotational equations of motion in a body fixed (material) frame, with the resulting incremental rotations added to the total rotation matrix; (c) penalty formulation for creating connection points (virtual nodes which do not add extra degrees of freedom) on the rigid-body where joints can be placed. The use of the rotation matrix along with incremental rotation updates circumvents the problem of singularities associated with other types of three and four parameter rotation measures. Benchmark rigid multibody dynamics problems are solved to demonstrate the accuracy of the present technique.

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