1271. Application of Finite Element Analysis to Derivation of Structural Weight


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J G Hutton, L D Richmond: 1271. Application of Finite Element Analysis to Derivation of Structural Weight. 1979.



This research study was initiated to derive methodology for application with the finite element analysis process for estimation of structural system weight. Emphases of the study were the development of factoring logic, the testing of the logic with analysis of known structure and the documentation of interdisciplinary interaction required during model development. The numerical factors developed were composed of several subfactors that accounted for modeling technique, construction method, material, installation details, and other weight sensitive variables.
These numerical factoring expressions were then built into the finite element process as functions of the individual element’s geometry. This allowed a realistic weight estimate to be an immediate result of automated resizing cycles.
The F-15A was used as the known structural system for development and testing of the weight factor logic. A detailed finite element model was developed for the wing box while a simplified beam body and horizontal tail were included for simulation of the wing support and to provide balanced airplane loads. The correlation of the factored finite element and as built weights was good for the cover panels. The total cover weight compared within 3% with a ~10% spread among the individual panels. Correlation for spars and ribs was less satisfactory and needs additional study.
The weight correction factoring logic developed is compatible with most current finite element programs. It requires the weight engineer to participate as the finite element model is developed to ensure that appropriate accountability is provided for structural details not represented by the finite elements.


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