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# STRUCTURAL DESIGN USING

FINITE ELEMENTS
Nam-Ho Kim

INTRODUCTION
FEA: determining the response of a given structure for a
given set of loads and boundary conditions
Geometry, material properties, BCs and loads are well defined

## Engineering design: a process of synthesis in which parts

are put together to build a structure that will perform a
given set of functions satisfactorily
Analysis is very systematic and can be taught easily;
design is an iterative process

## Creative design: creating a new structure or machine that

does not exist
Adaptive design: modifying an existing design
(evolutionary process)

## INTRODUCTION STRUCTURAL DESIGN

Structural design: a procedure to improve or enhance the
performance of a structure by changing its parameters
Performance: a measurable quantity (constraint and goal)
the weight, stiffness or compliance; the fatigue life; noise and
vibration levels; safety

## Constraint: As long as the performance satisfies the

criterion, its level is not important
Ex: the maximum stress should be less than the allowable stress

## Goal: the performance that the engineer wants to improve

as much as possible
Design variables: system parameters that can be changed
during the design process
Plate thickness, cross-sectional area, shape, etc

EXAMPLE
Design the height h of cantilevered beam with SF = 1.5
E = 2.9104 ksi, w = 2.25 in.

## FE equation after applying BCs

EI
L3

12 6L v2 F

2
6L 4L 2 0

v2

FE solution

v2

4FL

Ewh

,
3

6FL

Ewh

4FL3

Ewh
3

Dallowable

4FL3

EwDallowable

3.66 in

L = 100 in
h
w
F = 2,000 lb
4

EXAMPLE cont.
2) Failure strength = 40 ksi (Need SF)

C1

max

EI
2
2
6
Lv

4
L

6
Lv

2
L
2 FL
1
1
2
3
L
M h2 6FL

I
wh 2

6FL

2
SF
wh

6FLSF

w F

4.47 in

## FSD EXAMPLE CANTILEVERED BEAM

w = 2.25, h = 3.5 in. Determine new height using FSD
Section modulus and max. stress at the initial design
wh 2 2.25 3.52
Sold

4.594 in3
h
6
6
M
max
43.537 ksi
Sold
2I

## New section modulus using stress ratio resizing

Snew Sold

Snew

allowable

wh 2
6

max

4.594

6Snew

43.537
7.5 in3
26.667

4.47 in

L = 100 in
h
w
F = 2,000 lb

DESIGN PARAMETERS
Selecting design variables easy for beam and truss, but
more complicated for plane or 3D solids
Material property design variable
Varying material properties to find the best material
Not common, but useful for designing composite materials

## Sizing design variable

Geometric parameters as design (parametric design variable)
Appears as a parameter in FEM
Thickness of plate/shell, cross-sectional geometry of truss/beam,
etc
t
b
b
r
b
r
t
h

h
t

w
7

## DESIGN PARAMETERS cont.

Shape design variable
Related to the structures geometry, which does not appear
explicitly as a parameter
Beam cross-section is a geometry, but it appears as a moment of
inertia
Cx, Cy, and r determine the size and location of the hole
Shape design variables change FE mesh
Design variables must be limited so that the hole remains inside of
the plate

Cx

r
Cy
(a) Initial design

Cx

Cy

8

## PARAMETER STUDY SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS

Parameter study
Effect of a design variable on performance (gradual change of DV)
Cantilevered beam example:

Allowable
stress

Acceptable
region

w (in)
2.0
2.0
2.0
2.5
2.5
2.5
3.0
3.0
3.0

h (in)
4.0
4.5
5.0
4.0
4.5
5.0
4.0
4.5
5.0

max (ksi)
37.5
29.6
24.0
30.0
23.7
19.2
25.0
19.8
16.0

SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS
Parameter study becomes too expensive with many DVs
Unable to capture rapid change in performance locally
Design sensitivity analysis computes the rate of
performance change with respect to design variables
Sensitivity analysis calculates gradient of performance for
optimization
Explicit dependence
Analytical relationship exists between performance and DVs
Weight of circular cross-section beam

W (r ) r 2L
Sensitivity w.r.t. r :

dW
2 rL
dr

10

## SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS cont.

Implicit dependence
Performance depends on DVs through state variable (displacement)
Sensitivity of stress:

d d d q

dr
dq d r
Difficult to calculate, time consuming
Easy to calculate from given expression of stress

dQ dF dK
K

Q
db
db
db

## [dK/db] and {dF/db} can be evaluated using either their analytical

expression or numerical differentiation
11

## SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS cont.

Sensitivity equation must be solved for each DV
Sensitivity equation uses the same stiffness matrix with
the original finite element analysis
Consider RHS as a pseudo-force vector
Similar to finite element analysis with multiple load cases
Thus, solving sensitivity equation is very inexpensive using
factorized stiffness matrix
General form of performance
H H q(b ), b

Sensitivity

dH ( q(b ), b ) H

db
b

q const

H
q

b const

dq
db

12

## FINITE DIFFERENCE SENSITIVITY

Easiest way to compute sensitivity information of the
performance
Calculate performance at two different designs
Forward difference method
dH H (b b ) H (b )

db
b

## Central difference method

dH H (b b ) H (b b )

db
2b

## Consider FEA as a black-box

Sensitivity computation cost becomes high for many
design variables
N+1 analyses for forward FDM
2N+1 analyses for central FDM
13

## FINITE DIFFERENCE SENSITIVITY cont.

Accuracy of finite difference sensitivity
Accurate results can be expected when b approaches zero
For nonlinear performances, a large perturbation yields completely
inaccurate results
Numerical noise becomes dominant for a too-small perturbation
size

(dH/db)4
(dH/db)
3

(dH/db)2
(dH/db)1

b0 b1 b2

b3

b4

b
14

## EXAMPLE CANTILEVERED BEAM

At optimum design (w=2.25 in, h=4.47 in), calculate
sensitivity of tip displacement w.r.t. h
Exact sensitivity:
dv2
dh

exact

12FL3

Ewh

12 2, 000 1003
7

## 2.9 10 2.25 4.47

4.118

Differentiate [K]

12 6L 12 6L 0
12

## F 6L 4L2 6L 2L2 0 F 12L

dK

db { Q } 4Lh 12 6L

4
h
12

6
L
4
L
12

0
6L 2L2 6L 4L2 6

12

F 12L
dF dK
Q

d
b
d
b
4
h

12

15

## EXAMPLE CANTILEVERED BEAM cont.

Sensitivity equation:
12 6L 12 6L dv1 / db 0
12

## EI 6L 4L2 6L 2L2 d1 / db 0 F 12L

3 12 6L

4
h
12

6
L
d
v
/
d
b

12
L
2

0
6L 2L2 6L 4L2 d2 / db

## Same way of applying BC

EI
L3

12 6L dv2 / db F 12

2 d / db
4
h
0

6
L
4
L

## Sensitivity of nodal DOFs

dv2
d2
12FL3
18FL2

4
db
d
b
Ewh
Ewh 3
Same with the exact sensitivity

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STRUCTURAL OPTIMIZATION
What Is Design Optimization?
To find the best design parameters that meet the design goal and
satisfies constraints.

## Design Parameters: Anything the Designer Can Change

Thickness of a plate
Cross-sectional geometry of a beam or truss
Geometric dimensions

## Design Goal: Objective Function

Design criterion that will be minimized (or maximized)
Mass, Stress, Displacement, Natural Frequency, ETC

## Constraint: Conditions that the system must satisfy

Stress, Displacement, ETC

constraints.
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## OPTIMIZATION FLOW CHART

Physical engineering
problem

Structural modeling
Design parameterization
Performance definition
(cost, constraints)
Structural
model update

Structural analysis
(FEM, BEM, CFD)
Design sensitivity
analysis
Optimized?

No

Yes
Stop
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## THREE-STEP PROBLEM FORMULATION

1. Design Parameterization

Clear identification
Independence of designs

t1
t2

2. Objective Function

## Must be a function of design parameters

Minimization ( Maximization)

3. Constraint Functions

Inequality constraints
Equality constraints
Equality constraints must be less than the number of design
parameters
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STANDARD FORM
Standard form of design optimization
minimize f (b)
subject to gi (b) 0, i 1,

,N

hj (b) 0, j 1, , M
bl L bl blU , l 1, , K

b b1 b2

f (b)
g1 (b), , gN (b)
h1 (b), , hM (b)

bK

bL , bU

: Design parameters
: Objective function
: Inequality constraints
: Equality constraints
: Lower and upper bounds

## Feasible set: the set of designs that satisfy constraints

S b gi (b) 0, i 1,

N , hj (b) 0, j 1,

M
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