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Composites Science and Technology 56 (1996) 1001-1015

Published by Elsevier Science Limited

Printed in Northern Ireland
ELSEVIER PII: SO266-3538(96)00063-Z 0266-3538/96/$15.00


Steven Huybrechts” & Stephen W. Tsaib

“USAF Phillips Lab., Structures and Controls Division, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico 87117-5776, USA
‘Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-403.5, USA

(Received 26 July 1995; revised 20 March 1996; accepted 22 April 1996)

Abstract potential for automation, the fabrication process for

Lattices of rigidly connected ribs, known as grid grid structures may be simplified greatly over that for
structures, have many advantages over traditional composite laminates as it may not require bagging,
construction methods, which use panels, sandwich debulking or use of an autoclave, reducing costs
cores and/or expensive frameworks. The introduction considerably.
of grid structures into industry has been hampered by a
lack of understanding of their behavior, especially their 1.2 Previous experience with grid structures
behavior in failure space. In order to predict grid Previously, most understanding of grid structures was
structure behavior, a model of grid structure derived from practical experience with several
deformation and failure was developed and imple- standard grid lattice configurations. Recently, methods
mented in a computer code. With this code, parametric have been developed1 which predict grid structure
studies were run on a variety of grid structure types and equivalent stiffness and failure through a ‘smearing’
geometries. Studies were performed to determine grid technique. While useful for comparing intact,
structure strengths, grid structure weaknesses, the homogeneous grid structures under uniform loading,
effects of empty, soft, hard and rigid inclusions, the this technique does not allow for the local effects
effects of missing ribs, the effects of nodal ofset, the generated by irregularities in the grid structure
impact of soft and hard repairs to the grid structure pattern.
lattice, and the impact of joining grid structures Additionally, commercial finite element computer
together. Published by Elsevier Science Limited codes can be and have been used to study grid
structure configurations under limited loading cases.
Keywords: grid structure, isogrid, composite material, These codes suffer from several major drawbacks,
structural analysis, failure envelope though, when applied to the problem of effectively
characterizing grid structure behavior. Primarily,
codes of this type are too complex and slow to
1 INTRODUCTION effectively study grid structures in realistic failure
Recently, composite grid structures have gained space, a calculation that can require thousands of
popularity as a possible solution to many of the solutions for any given study.
problems associated with traditional composite con-
struction methods involving lamination of plates and 1.3 Grid structure behavior characterization
sandwich type structures. For designers to make One area of significant interest is the study of grid
intelligent choices when designing with grid structures structure failure and the factors that influence its
for practical applications, an understanding of their occurrence. In addition to the individual weaknesses
behavior is required. The acquisition of such and strengths found in each different grid structure
understanding is the focus of this study. pattern, the addition of irregularities can have a
significant effect on the failure of a grid structure and
1.1 Grid structures are of interest. Some examples of such irregularities
Grid structures are characterized by a lattice of rigid, are:
interconnected ribs. This configuration proves to be an . soft and hard points in the grid lattice;
inherently strong and resilient arrangement for . damage to the grid lattice;
composite materials, without the material mismatch . repairs to the grid lattice; and
associated with laminated structures. The absence of . areas where two or more grid structures are
material mismatch implies that grid structures possess
joined together.
inherent resistance to impact damage, delamination
and crack propagation. In addition to showing a high As the loading applied to a section of a grid
1002 S. Huybrechts, S. W. Tsai

structure residing in a larger structure can be very

complex, a study of grid structure behavior must
characterize a grid lattice pattern not under any single
load case, but as a multi-dimensional surface in failure
space. Such surfaces are known as failure envelopes
and are limited to two dimensions, such as in the case
Fig. 2. Grid types. Examples of an orthogrid and an
of laminated composite failure envelopes.* A failure
anglegrid structure.
envelope is a closed contour in stress or load space
(hereafter referred to as failure space) inside of which
the considered structure is predicted to be safe from
of attaching skin to the grid structure, is derived with
failure. The generation of such surfaces requires a
offset degrees of freedom placing them at the rib
large number of solutions for any one grid pattern, a
midplane. Also, the skin finite element shape
task that must be automated and implemented in a
functions are chosen such that the out-of-plane skin
manner that is fast enough to be used for parametric
deformation matches that of the ribs along regions
where the skin and ribs are joined. Finally, the effects
of hygrothermal changes in the grid structure are
1.4 Grid structure types
included in the element formulations.
In order to characterize grid structure behavior,
Failure criteria are developed in order to predict
parametric studies in failure space were performed for
grid structure failure resulting from the predicted
several standard types of grid structures. Grid
deformation. A failure criterion is derived for stability
structures with ribs running in four directions are
failure of grid structure ribs which takes into account
referred to as quadri-directional while grid structures
the effect of other ribs in the grid structure lattice and
with ribs running in three directions are referred to as
curvature in the global grid structure. Also, a failure
tri-directional. A well-known case, the isogrid, is a
criterion is derived for material failure in the grid
tri-directional grid structure where the ribs form
structure ribs which takes into account all stresses
equilateral triangles. Grid structures with ribs running
arising in a standard orthotropic composite beam.
in only two directions are referred to as anglegrids. If
The developed methodology has been implemented
these two directions are orthogonal, the structure is
on a workstation in a manner that is fast enough to
referred to as an orthogrid. Examples of these types of
perform large parametric studies, in failure space, in a
grid structures are shown in Figs 1 and 2.
reasonable amount of time. This implementation has
The points where two or more ribs intersect each
been used to study grid structures in failure space.
other are referred to as nodes. Due to manufacturing
considerations, when more than two ribs meet at a
node, the crossing point of the angle ribs may be offset 2 THEORETICAL DEVELOPMENT
from the crossing point of the orthogonal ribs by a
For the purpose of this derivation, the following
small distance relative to the overall lattice spacing.
conventions are followed:
This node modification is referred to as nodal offset.
l Node: a region in the grid structure where two
1.5 Method and implementation or more ribs intersect. The node can include
In order to predict the behavior of any particular grid nodal offset and, therefore, be of finite size.
structure, the deformation due to a specified loading l Nodal point: a point in the node at which
case is first determined using a finite element solver. degrees of freedom for the grid structure are
In order to reduce the calculation time over a defined. The nodal point is taken to be at the rib
standard finite element model, grid-specific finite midplane and can be chosen at an arbitrary
elements have been developed. A global grid structure point within the node.
stiffness matrix due to grid structure ribs is derived
which includes, implicitly, the effect of nodal offset. A 2.1 Stiffness relationship for grid structure ribs
skin finite element, necessary for predicting the effect A model for rib stiffness is derived that includes the
effect of nodal offset but limits the degrees of freedom
required to only the nodal point degrees of freedom
(three translations and three rotations at each nodal
point). The resulting stiffness relationship between the
nodal point applied forces and resulting nodal point
displacements is given by:
f* = [KR]{dA} + [G]{R’h}~‘h (I)
Fig. 1. Grid types. Examples of a quadri-directional and a
&i-directional grid structure. where {d*} is the vector of all nodal point
Analysis and behavior of grid structures 1003

displacements, {f ^} is the vector of all nodal point these calculated forces are used to determine the
applied forces, [KR] is analogous to a linear finite stresses arising at all points in the rib using beam
element stiffness matrix and [G]{Rth}ath represents the theory. A torsional stress solution can be found
thermal load vector. The derivation for this elsewhere.6
relationship is given elsewhere.3 A quadratic failure criterion is proposed to
determine material failure at any point in the rib. This
2.2 Finite element formulation for grid structure criterion is given by:
A skin finite element is derived whose degrees of -+~+~+($-+&3=l (3)
freedom correspond to the nodal point degrees of x:x; s2 s*
freedom introduced in Section 2.1 and whose where ai are the normal and shear stresses in the
out-of-plane deformation matches that of the attached material, Xi is the tensile failure stress, X2 is the
grid structure ribs in order to decrease the structural compressive failure stress and S is the shear failure
degrees of freedom necessary to predict deformation. stress.’ A full derivation of eqn (3) is given
To account for any arbitrary grid structure type, the elsewhere.3
derived skin element is triangular with degrees of
2.4 Stability failure of grid structure ribs
freedom shown in Fig. 3. Curvature in the grid
To model the buckling of an individual rib in a grid
structure is approximated to occur only at the axial
lattice, a rib (referred to as the considered rib) is
ribs. As a result, no curvature-induced coupling is
assumed to be rigidly connected to a rigid node that is,
required during the in-plane and out-of-plane element
in turn, rigidly connected to a number of constraining
development and is included in the element
ribs. Realistically, these constraining ribs are also
formulation as a final step. The final skin element
connected to other nodes and other constraining ribs
stiffness matrix is expressed as:
but, to simplify the situation, the ends of the
constraining ribs not attached to the considered rib
are taken to be fixed. This situation is shown in Fig. 4.
The rigid node and constraining ribs amount to a
where [I$,] and [kz,] are composite laminate in-plane4 coupled-spring-type boundary condition relating the
and out-of-plane’ element stiffness matrices, [Nip]’ two shear and two moment forces to the correspond-
and [NOPITare matrices relating nodal point degrees of ing four displacements on each end of the considered
freedom to the laminate element degrees of freedom, rib expressed as:
and [NJ is a matrix that accounts for curvature in the
grid structure. The full derivation of this element
stiffness matrix and its constituent matrices is given
elsewhere,3 where also a corresponding hygrothermal
force vector is derived.

2.3 Material failure in grid structure ribs

Using the finite element deformation solution and (5)
Bernoulli-Euler beam theory, the forces arising in the
ribs of the grid structure are calculated. For each rib,

Fig. 3. Skin element configuration. The skin element has three element nodes, each with six degrees of freedom (note that
d,--d, are rotations) that are offset from the skin mid-plane by half the skin thickness plus the distance to the rib neutral axis.
1004 S. Huybrechts, S. W. Tsai

Constraining Ribs

Constraining Ribs

Constraining Ribs

Fig. 4. Model of rib buckling. The considered rib is connected to two nodes which are connected to constraining ribs in the
general case.

where the buckling stiffness matrices, kb” and kbp, are using a combination of root-finding and minimization
often fully populated and refer to the negative and techniques. A full derivation of this theory can be
positive ends of the considered rib, respectively. The found elsewhere.3
deformation equations used to determine buckling in
the two coupled lateral directions, referred to as X$ 2.5 Implementation
and ~3, are? The theory discussed in Sections 2.1-2.4 was
implemented into a computer code, GridWorks,
designed to rapidly generate parametric studies on
grid structures in failure space. GridWorks was
verified by comparing it to experimental results and
+ bc3x3 + bc4
outputs from various commercial finite element
(6) packages. Some of these experimental results are
presented in the Appendix. GridWorks is the basis for
the results presented in the following sections.

+ bc7x3 + bc8

where p is the axial load along the considered rib, E3, The behavior of various types of grid structures was
Z, and Z2 are rib material properties and moments of studied using the developed code. Conclusions were
inertia, and bci are constants to be solved for using drawn on the basis of thousands of cases and are
boundary conditions. Solving for bci in eqn (6), using presented below. A thorough discussion of these
eqns (4) and (5), yields a system of eight equations in conclusions can be found in elsewhere.” All examples
bc, that can be expressed as a matrix multiplying the shown are for grid structures constructed of
vector of all bci equal to a null vector. This matrix is T300-N5208 unless otherwise noted.
given explicitly elsewhere.3 The first positive value of
p for which the determinant of this matrix is zero is 3.1 General intact grid structure behavior
the critical buckling load of the system. As the explicit Failure envelopes for intact grid structures under
expression for the resulting determinant is very biaxial, axial and shear loading were generated in
complex, the value of p must be found numerically order to compare the standard grid lattice patterns
Analysis and behauior of grid structures 1005

defined in Section 1.4 (quadri-directional, tri- 3. The majority of the shear strength of a grid
directional, ortho and angle). In addition to biaxial structure is obtained from the angular ribs.
loading, shear loading was introduced in combination Also, the shear strength increases with the
with axial loading through axial and torsional loading steepness of these ribs. One example is shown in
of cylindrical grid structures. The following general Fig. 7. An example of angular rib steepness is
conclusions can be made regarding the behavior of shown in Fig. 8.
both flat and cylindrical intact grid structures.

1. Rib buckling plays a major role in grid structure 3.2 Intact isogrid structures
failure for grid structures with ‘thin’ ribs. The Isogrid structures are tri-directional grid structures
most dramatic strength decrease is seen for where the ribs form equilateral triangles. The most
compressive loading, although buckling of important conclusion regarding the behavior of isogrid
transverse ribs is often the failure mode for a structures in failure space is that isogrid structures are
grid structure under tensile loading. An example not isotropic. An example is shown in Fig. 9. As ribs
is shown in Fig. 5. In the case of the thinner rib become thinner and rib buckling becomes significant,
width, a dramatic strength decrease is seen in isogrid structures exhibit significantly higher strength
compressive regions of the envelope as com- to tensile loads than to compressive loads. Isogrids are
pared to tensile regions. This decrease in often weakest when loaded with a combination of
compressive strength is due to a change in compressive loads along the axial ribs and tensile
failure mode from material failure to rib loads transverse to the axial ribs. Under this loading,
buckling failure and is not observed in the grid isogrids are very susceptible to buckling of the axial
structure with the thicker rib width. The ribs.
susceptibility of grid structures to buckling An example of how axial strengths can vary
failure implies that embedding grid structures in between the two loading directions in an isogrid
a medium such as foam or concrete may structure is shown in Fig. 10 for an isogrid structure
increase their strength as it may prevent the with loading directions as shown in Fig. 9. The rib
onset of rib buckling. width of an isogrid with a constant material volume is
2. Adding rib directions can occasionally reduce varied and the failure stress resultant is compared for
the failure strength of a grid structure. An the two loading directions. The in-plane strengths of
example is shown in Fig. 6. In this case the only aluminum and T300-N5208 isogrids are compared to
difference between the tri-directional and the in-plane strengths of equivalent volume plates of
quadri-directional grid structures is the presence the same material. The isogrid failure strength for
of circumferential ribs in the quadri-directional loading in the 3-direction (along the axial ribs) is fairly
grid structure. The failure envelopes show that constant across the range while the failure strength for
the axial tensile strength decreases with the loading in the 2-direction varies significantly, espe-
addition of the circumferential ribs. Note that in cially in regions where the ribs are quite thin and
both of these cases, the failure mode in axial prone to buckling. This variation leads to high failure
tension is material failure. anisotropy for certain isogrids.

Rib Width 0.02m

Lattice: Rib:
II 4 * Rib Width. 0 002m 1

-7500000 0 7500000

3 Direction Stress Resultant (N/m)

Fig. 5. Failure envelopes for biaxial loading of intact quadri-directional grid structures. The failure envelopes shown are for
two grid structures, identical except for their rib width. Note that the envelope for the grid structure with the thinner rib width
is multiplied by a factor of 4 to make the graph easier to read.
1006 S. Huybrechts, S. W. Tsai


c1 0

-3000000 0 3000000
Axral Stress Resultant (N/m)

Fig. 6. Failure envelopes for axial and torsional loading of a quadri-directional and a tri-directional grid structure. For this case
the rib width was 0.02 m and the rib height was 0.02 m.

Note that the composite isogrid significantly show dramatically higher strength when loading along
outperforms the aluminum isogrid. This performance the two directions is of the same sign (tension-tension
difference is due to the ability to run the composite or compression-compression) than when it is of mixed
fibers exclusively axially along the ribs. sign.

3.3 Intact orthogrid structures 3.5 Effect of grid structure inclusions

The lack of angular ribs in orthogrid structures causes Failure envelopes for grid structures under biaxial,
a severe decrease in their shear strength over other shear and moment loading were generated for grid
grid structure types. Additionally, the lack of angle structures with inclusions in the grid lattice pattern.
ribs removes much of the coupling between different Inclusions are considered to be any irregularity in the
ribs in an orthogrid. In biaxial failure space, this fact grid lattice pattern that causes a small region of the
leads to little interaction between the two biaxial lattice to be stiffer or softer than the grid lattice in that
loading directions. region would have been without the inclusion.
Inclusions are referred to as either hard (stiffer than
3.4 Intact anglegrid structures the grid lattice) or soft (less stiff than the grid lattice).
In contrast to orthogrid structures, anglegrid struc- Three types of inclusions were studied: perfectly rigid
tures exhibit high shear strength and low axial inclusions, empty inclusions (holes), and areas where
strength. Under biaxial loading, anglegrid structures grid structure ribs are thicker or thinner than the

(I=” Axial

-1000 0 1000
Axial Stress Resultant (N/m)

Fig. 7. Failure envelopes for axial and torsional loading of bidirectional (anglegrid) grid structures. Anglegrid patterns of 30”
and 60” are compared. Angle patterns ‘A’ and ‘B’ are shown in Fig. 8. Note that pattern ‘B’ is steeper than pattern ‘A’. For this
case the rib width was 0.002 m and the rib height was 0.02 m.
Analysis and behavior of grid structures 1007

Fig. 8. Torsional (shear) performance of angle ribs. The steeper angle ribs in ‘B’ provide better strength than those in ‘A’.

width of the ribs in the rest of the grid structure. 0.2) and hard (rib width of 1.8) inclusions cause
Examples of the last two of these inclusion types are a decrease in the grid structure strength.
shown in Fig. 11. The inclusion type with thickened
(or thinned) ribs allows for the study of inclusion 3.6 Effects of missing ribs in grid structures
behavior as an inclusion varies in stiffness. One special type of empty inclusion is a missing rib. In
The following general conclusions are drawn order to study this case, failure envelopes for grid
regarding the effect of inclusions in grid structures. structures under biaxial, shear and moment loading
were generated for grid structures with ribs missing
1. Inclusions can have a dramatic effect on the from the grid lattice pattern. Individual ribs were
strength of a grid structure. An example is removed from a location just off the center of the
shown in Fig. 12. The existence of an inclusion studied grid structures. The effects of individually
nearly always has a negative (weakening) effect removing ribs from all existing rib directions in the
which increases in magnitude with inclusion size grid structures were studied. As illustrated in Fig. 14,
(see Fig. 12). the results of these studies show that removal of an
2. Both hard and soft inclusions nearly always individual grid structure rib can have a substantial
have a detrimental effect on grid structure negative effect on the overall grid structure strength.
strength. This fact implies that a grid structure is The magnitude of the effect can vary significantly for
strongest when intact and with no irregularities removal of ribs from different rib directions. Finally,
in the grid structure pattern. Also, it implies the effect of rib removal is more pronounced for grid
that in designing inclusions, the greatest grid structures subjected to in-plane loading than for those
structure strength is achieved by matching the subjected to out-of-plane loading.
inclusion stiffness to that of the rest of the grid The fact that the effect of rib removal can vary
structure. An example is shown in Fig. 13. In significantly depending on which rib is removed
this example, the inclusion stiffness matches that implies that the damage tolerance of grid structures is
of the intact grid structure when the rib width very hard to qualify. In other words, the damage
ratio is 1.0. Note that both the soft (rib width of tolerance of a grid structure depends greatly on the
grid structure geometry and type of rib damaged.

Lattice: Rib:

-2000000 /‘\ i__.+ n

-2000000 0 2000000
3 Direction Stress Resultant (N/m) 0.005m
Fig. 9. Failure envelope for biaxial loading of an intact tri-directional (isogrid) structure.
1008 S. Huybrechts, S. W. Tsai

Aluminum Isogrid T300 Isogrid

- 3 Dir Tensile

E ___o
2 Dir Tensile
g 750000~
__~_~____ 2 Dir Tensile w/o Bucklin
ij ~~o ~~~

2 500000~
(Equal Volume Comparison)
L Rib Width x Rib Heighf = O.O0004m*m
2 250000-

0 0.005 0.01 0.015 0.02 0 0.005 0.01 0.015 0.02

RibWidtb (m) RibWidth (m)

Fig. 10. Variation of isogrid strength with rib width. The 3- and 2-directions are shown in Fig. 9. The grid structure geometry is:
2-direction spacing: 0.125 m, 3-direction spacing: 0.10825 m, 2-direction size: 0.25 m, 3-direction size: 2.598 m. An equivalent
volume plate is shown for both materials. For the 2-direction loading of the T300 isogrid, a curve is also shown for the case
where buckling failure is not taken into account. This curve demonstrates the great loss of strength due to buckling.

3.7 Effects of nodal offset in grid structures depending on the grid and rib geometries. In many
Failure envelopes for various quadri-directional and cases, nodal offset will decrease material failure loads
tri-directional grid structures under biaxial, shear and while increasing buckling failure loads.
moment loading were generated for grid structures
with nodal offset. The results of this section show that
nodal offset can have a noticeable effect on the 4 POTENTIAL FOR GRID STRUCTURE
strength of a grid structure under in-plane biaxial REPAIR
loading, as illustrated in Fig. 15. The effect of nodal
To study grid structure repair, failure envelopes were
offset on strength is negative in these cases and
generated for grid structures with a single node
becomes more pronounced as the grid structure ribs
removed and subjected to various types of repairs and
become thinner.
For cylindrical grid structures subjected to axial and
torsional loading, the effect of nodal offset becomes
more complex. In these cases, although nodal offset 4.1 Repair through rib reinforcement
always seems to have an effect on the grid structure In order to study repair through reinforcement, an
strength, the effect can be negative or positive isogrid panel of standard geometry was considered.
The strength of the panel, when subjected to biaxial
loading, was studied for the intact case and compared
to the case where a single node was removed from the
center of the panel. This configuration is shown in Fig.
16. Reinforcement of the empty hole was investigated
by varying the rib widths in three concentric
hexagonal rings around the hole (R,, R,,, and R,)
and/or the rib widths in the areas (A, and Ab)
between the hexagonal rings shown in Fig. 16. The
following conclusions are drawn from this study.

Soft (Empty) Inclusion In An Hard Inclusion In A Quadri- It is possible to recover some intact grid
Isogrid Structure directional Grid Structure structure strength through rib reinforcement,
Fig. 11. Some grid structure inclusion types. The ribs in the
even when the reinforcement occurs only in a
hard inclusion have been made thicker than the ribs in the single ring around the empty hole.
rest of the grid structure. For this case, rib reinforcement was not able to
Analysis and behavior of grid structures 1009

-800000 Lattice: Rib:

-800000 0 800000
//,\O.l,m 1 o.onh
3 Direction Stress Resultant (N/m)

I 0.003125m
’ 0.125m
Fig. 12. Failure envelopes
for empty inclusions in an isogrid structure. The numbers in the legend correspond to the number of
nodes removed from the structure to create the inclusion. The diagram shows the case where seven nodes are removed.

fully recover the intact grid structure strength reinforcement patterns studied provide very little
although all reinforced cases were as strong or strength recovery.
stronger than the unreinforced case.
3. Different reinforcing patterns performed
differently and there appear to be ‘optimal’ 4.2 Repair using skin
reinforced rib thicknesses for any particular One way of repairing a grid structure and achieving an
reinforcement pattern. In other words, a inclusion that is neither too hard nor too soft is to
reinforcement pattern that provides too much cover the empty hole with skin on both sides of the
reinforcement can perform as badly as one that grid structure and to vary its thickness and layup to
does not provide enough. The goal of the most closely match the stiffness of the intact grid
reinforcement pattern seems to be to cause the structure. This concept was examined for a variety of
reinforced area to appear neither soft nor hard grid structure types and geometries. An example is
to the rest of the grid structure lattice. shown in Fig. 18. The following conclusions can be
made regarding the repair of grid structures using
The best performing reinforcement patterns for this skin.
case are shown in Fig. 17. These patterns all vary rib 1. For many grid structures, close to full repair of
reinforcement thickness in a smooth way and recover an empty hole can be achieved using skin. For
most of the original strength. Many of the rib every such repair, there is an optimal skin

02 ~ I.0
Lattice: Rib:
-~ 1.8
- 1800000 0 1800000

3 Direction Stress Resultant (N/m) 0.25m 0.00625m

Fig. 13. Failure envelopes for soft and hard inclusions in a quadri-directional grid structure subjected to biaxial loading. The
numbers in the legend correspond to the ratio of the inclusion rib width to the grid structure rib width. A ratio of 1.0
corresponds to a grid structure without an inclusion.
1010 S. Huybrechts, S. W. Tsai

- 100000 0 100000
Shear Stress Resultant (N/m)

Fig. 14. Individual rib removal in a quadri-directional grid structure subjected to axial and shear loading. Note that the legend
entries correspond to the rib directions from which a rib was removed.

thickness as a skin that is too stiff can reduce the skin that is too stiff may perform as badly as a skin
grid structure strength as significantly as a skin that is not stiff enough.
that is too soft. For example, repair with
T300/N5280 skin of the isogrid panel shown in
Fig. 18 is shown in Fig. 19. The optimal skin
thickness repair for this material, layup and grid
configuration is 0.00048 m. To study grid structure joining, failure envelopes were
2. There is little difference in the performance of generated for sets of two grid structures joined
different skin layups that have well-distributed together. These failure envelopes were compared to
angles, as shown in Fig. 20. In this case, all the failure envelopes for single piece grid structures of the
layups shown perform equally well and are able same dimensions. Biaxial, axial and shear loading
to almost fully recover the grid structure were studied in flat grid structures while axial and
strength. torsional loading was studied in cylindrical grid
structures. Several different joint types were investig-
These conclusions demonstrate that skin repair is a
ated. The following conclusions were drawn from the
promising method for recovering grid structure
strength in many cases. In all cases, care must be
taken to optimize the skin stiffness (thickness) as a 1. The presence of a joint in a flat grid structure

2 0
-I Nodal Offset: 0%
6 Nodal Offset: I OR
-800000 0 800000

3 Direcrion Srress Resultant (N/m)

Fig. 15. A 4.5” quadri-directional grid structure under biaxial loading with and without nodal offset. The nodal offset is
measured as a percentage of orthogonal rib spacing. For this case, the rib width was 0.002 m, the rib height was 0.02 m.
Analysis and behavior of grid structures 1011

2- Direction

Fig. 16. Reinforcement of an empty hole in an isogrid structure under biaxial loading. Ribs are reinforced in either one of
three hexagonal rings (R,, R, and R,) or the two areas between the hexagonal rings (Aa and AJ. For this case the unreinforced
rib width was 0.003125 m and the unreinforced rib height was 0.0125 m.

tends to weaken that structure, although the structure behavior has emerged which emphasizes the
effect is relatively minor. The weakening effect great strength inherent in the uniform grid structure
becomes significant only with very stiff joint lattice. This strength is further enhanced by the ability
types. of composite materials to direct the majority of their
2. The presence of a joint running circumferen- strength axially along the grid structure ribs. Any
tially in a cylindrical grid structure has very little disruption in the grid structure pattern was shown to
effect on the grid structure strength. decrease the effectiveness of the grid structure
3. The presence of a joint running axially in a construction, Therefore, any inclusions, repairs or
cylindrical grid structure has a very significant joints should be designed to mimic, as closely as
weakening effect on the grid structure strength. possible, the behavior of the intact grid structure. The
This effect becomes more significant as the joint most important factor in the failure of most grid
becomes stiffer. structures is the tendency for grid structure ribs to
It was difficult to draw conclusions regarding the
damage tolerance of grid structures as the effects of
In conclusion, a large number of studies have been damage on grid structure strength can vary widely
performed to help characterize the behavior of grid depending on the grid structure geometry, damage
structures. In order to perform these studies, a type and damage location. The most effective form of
methodology and computer code have been de- grid structure repair was found to be the use of skin to
veloped. The developed methodology includes modi- cover the damaged area. In this case, it is important to
fied finite element formulations, stress solutions and tailor the skinstiffness to be as close as possible to the
failure theories. stiffness of the removed or damaged area.
In studying grid structures, a clearer picture of grid Methods of joining grid structures together were


.. No Repair

-- Ra=2.0; Aa=1.5

-~ Ra=2.5; Aa=2.0; Rb=l.: I

-______ Ra=l.5; Aa=2.0; Rb=2.. 5;
Ab=2.0; Rc=1.5
0 750000 i
3 Direction Stress Resultant (N/m)

Fig. 17. Best performing rib reinforcement patterns for the case in Fig. 16. The numbers in the legend correspond to the ratio
of the reinforced rib widths to the rib width in the rest of the grid structure.
1012 S. Huybrechts, S. W. Tsai

Fig. 18. Repair of a hole in an isogrid structure using skin. Skin is placed over both sides of the empty hole. For this case the
rib width was 0.003125 m and the rib height was 0.0125 m.


I No Repair

~- Skin Thickness: 0.00016m

~- Skin Thickness: 0.00048m

-- Skin Thickness: 0.00096m

I_ i
0 750000
3 Direction Stress Resultanr (N/m)

Fig. 19. Skin repair of the isogrid panel shown in Fig. 18. Skins are added to both sides of the empty hole. The layup is
[O/45/ - 451901,.


No Repair


-- T300 [0/90/019O]s

-- T300 [O/45/-45/9O]s
0 750000

3 Direction Stress Resultant (N/m) - -. T300 [O/60/-601s (0.00048m)

Fig. 20. Skin repair of the isogrid panel shown in Fig. 18. Skins are added to both sides of the empty hole. In each case, the
optimum skin thickness for the layup is shown.
Analysis and behavior of grid structures 1013

studied. Although joints almost always decreased grid and Applications of Finite Element Analysis. John Wiley,
New York, 1989.
structure strength, most joints did not reduce it
6. Sokolnikoff, 1. S., Mathematical Theory of Elasticity.
greatly. The main exceptions to this rule occurred McGraw-Hill, New York, 1956.
when grid structure cylinders were joined axially. 7. Tsai, S. W., Introduction to Composite Materials.
Technomic Publishing Co. Inc., Lancaster, PA, 1980.
8. Chang, F. K., AA250 Course Notes. Stanford University,
REFERENCES Stanford, CA, 1992.

1. Chen, H.-J., Analysis and Optimum Design of Composite

Grid Structures. Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 1994.
2. Tsai, S. W., Theory of Composites Design. Think
Experimental verification
Composites, Dayton, OH, 1992.
3. Huybrechts, S. M., Analysis and Behavior of Grid The GridWorks computer code was verified ex-
Structures. Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 1995. perimentally and numerically for a wide range of grid
4. Subramanian, G. & Jayachandrabose, C., Convenient structure types and geometries. Three of these cases
generation of stiffness matrices for the family of plane are given here as an illustration.
triangular elements. Computers and Structures, 15 (1982)
85-89. 1. An orthogrid specimen made by the ChemGrate
5. Cook, R. D., Malkus, D. S. & Plesha, M. E., Concepts company was tested and the results compared to

Clamped 1t

f 1 0.2032m

Rib Cross Section




60000 -

40000 -
.... .... ... ... .
G _ ..::::::. :.:.:.:.:.:.:.
Cz .....::::.
.................. .:*:.:.:.:.:.:
::::::: .‘.‘.....‘.‘.‘.
..~.‘.‘.~.‘.’ ‘.~::::.‘.
.. ..
20000 _ <:f:;:;:;:;< .:.X.:.X.::
... ...
.... ... . ... ::::::::::::::
..,.........,. ..::..:::.
.... .......... .:.:.:.:.:.:.>
- ..:::::.. .... .
.*:::::: ::::::::::::::
... .......
.,.....,....... :::::::
Predicted Experiment Predicted Experiment

Fig. 21. ChemGrate orthogrid test specimen configuration and results.

1014 S. Huybrechts, S. W. Tsni

GridWorks. The specimen specifications, testing tested and the results compared to GridWorks.
condition and test results are shown in Fig. 21. The specimen specifications and testing condi-
Error bars associated with the experimental tion are shown in Fig. 22 along with the
data reflect the range of experimental results resulting data. Additionally, the stiffness predic-
obtained from several specimens of the same tion of a commercial finite element package,
geometry. Note that in addition to predicting Samcef, is given. This grid structure was
the failure load correctly, the correct failure constructed of an IM7 fiber composite.
location was also predicted. The first failure 3. An isogrid specimen with ribs removed to
mode in this experiment was material failure. encourage buckling of a central member was
These grid structures were constructed of tested and the results compared to GridWorks.
chopped glass fibers in epoxy. The specimen specifications, testing condition
2. An isogrid specimen with skin on one side, and resulting data are shown in Fig. 23. Both
made by the Phillips Air Force Laboratory, was the failure load and the stiffness data have been

@ Load Point
0.264m 0 Simply Supported

Nodal Offset 0.00635m

Skin Thickness 0.00136m
Skin Layup [60/-60/O/O/-60/6O]s
Rib Height 0.015768m
Rib Width 0.00173m


Samcef (Coarse Mesh) Samcef (Fine Mesh) Experiment GridWorks

Fig. 22. Phillips Lab. isogrid test specimen configuration and results.
Analysis and behavior of grid structures 1015

I .5000E+OO r

g GridWorks



5.0000E-01 -

Normalized Stiffness Normalized Failure Load

Fig. 23. lsogrid test specimen configuration and results.

normalized by the GridWorks predicted values. predicted the location of the failure. This grid
The first failure mode in this test was rib structure was constructed of an IM7 fiber
buckling. The GridWorks code accurately composite.