Section builder: a finite element tool for analysis and design of composite beam cross-sections
Chakravarty, Uttam Kumar
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SectionBuilder is an innovative finite element based tool, developed for analysis and design of composite beam cross-sections. The tool can handle the cross-sections with parametric shapes and arbitrary configurations. It can also handle arbitrary lay-ups for predefined beam cross-section geometries in a consistent manner. The material properties for each layer of the cross-section can be defined on the basis of the design requirements. This tool is capable of dealing with multi-cell composite cross-sections with arbitrary lay-ups. It has also the benefit of handling the variation of thickness of skin and D-spars for beams such as rotor blades. A typical cross-section is considered as a collection of interconnected walls. Walls with arbitrary lay-ups based on predefined geometries and material properties are generated first. The complex composite beam cross-sections are developed by connecting the walls using various types of connectors. These connectors are compatible with the walls, i.e., the thickness of the layers of the walls must match with those of the connectors at the place of connection. Cross-sections are often reinforced by core material for constructing realistic rotor blade cross-sections. The tool has the ability to integrate core materials into the cross-sections. A mapped mesh is considered for meshing parametric shapes, walls and various connectors, whereas a free mesh is considered for meshing the core materials. A new algorithm based on the Delaunay refinement algorithm is developed for creating the best possible free mesh for core materials. After meshing the cross-section, the tool determines the sectional properties using finite element analysis. This tool computes sectional properties including stiffness matrix, compliance matrix, mass matrix, and principal axes. A visualization environment is integrated with the tool for visualizing the stress and strain distributions over the cross-section.