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Finite Element Analysis Coursework

Bogdan Serbanescu 5525368


serbaneb@uni.coventry.ac.uk
Introduction
Finite element analysis (FEA) is simulating how a structure reacts to real-world forces, vibration, heat,
fluid flow, and other physical effects. Finite element analysis shows whether a product will break, wear
out, or work the way it was designed.
Objective
The objective of this project is to run an analysis
consisted of a static study and a frequency study on
a structure made of a 1m long box beam and a
0.515m I-beam welded together at a 90o angle. The
end of the box beam is fixed and a 0.5kg point mass
is attached to the end of the I-beam, as illustrated in
Fig.1.

Fig.1
Analysis
The software used to perform the analysis is SolidWorks. The first step is to build the model according
to the specified design and dimensions. After the design is complete and the dimensions are fully
defined, a tetrahedral mesh is created. The shape of a tetrahedron was chosen as it is the most
accurate and is a default setting by this software.
The second step is the material selection. SolidWorks software has its own materials library. The
chosen material is Aluminium Alloy 5052-H38, which has very close properties to the ones found in the
Coursework Brief, as presented in Tab.1.
In order to make sure that the study runs properly it is necessary to make sure that the point A of the
structure is fixed and that no external force is acting on the body. SolidWorks calculates the mass of
the structure as being m=1.43kg. To check this result we use the formula =m/V , where is
the density of the material and V is the total volume of the structure. The results are the same.
Aluminium Alloy 5052-H38
Elastic Modulus
70 GPa
Poisson's Ratio
0,33
Shear Modulus
25.9 GPa
Mass Density
2680 kg/m3
Tensile Strength
290 Mpa
Yield Strength
255 Mpa
Tab.1
After applying the specified constrains, a Frequency Study is ran in order to find the first 3 natural
frequencies of the system, presented in Tab.2.

Finite Element Analysis Coursework


Bogdan Serbanescu 5525368
serbaneb@uni.coventry.ac.uk

Fig.2
Fig.3
Fig.4

Frequency
(Hertz)

Frequency
(Rad/sec)

19,399
23,851
63,182

121,89
149,86
396,98

X
direction
(mm)
0,051548
0,59474
0,041928
4,00 x10-7
0,015827
0,12514
Tab.2

Period
(Seconds)

Y
direction
(mm)
3,34 x10-7
0,61984
9,20 x10-7

Z
direction
(mm)
0,023581
3,92 x10-9
0,15399

Magnitude
0,78633
0,7873
0,52834

The magnitude is calculated using the formula:

M = x 2+ y 2 + z 2

By analyzing the data, we notice that the frequency of the


structure increases but its period decreases. The magnitude is
almost constant between the first two frequencies (0.79) and
drops to 0.53 for the third one.
Fig.2, Fig.3 and Fig.4 show the first 3 natural frequencies of the
structure. From there it is noticeable how the beam reacts
under its own weight and the maximum displacement for each
frequency accordingly. The deformation of the structure is
highly visible, the maximum displacement being situated in
point C.
Fig.2

Fig.3

Fig.4

In order to find the maximum displacement of point C relative to the horizontal plane passing through
point A and also the locations of the greatest vonMises stress we need to run a Static Study. A new
constrain is added, a mass of m=0.5kg being placed on point C. Also, the structure has to be under
the action of the gravitational force, where a=9.81m/s2 .
The most accurate maximum displacement of the structure is -1.444mm at point C, as in Fig.5.
However, in point B the displacement is approximately -0.7221mm and it decreases uniformly towards

Finite Element Analysis Coursework


Bogdan Serbanescu 5525368
serbaneb@uni.coventry.ac.uk
point A. In the image is highly visible the deformation of
the structure, compared to its initial shape and position.

Fig.5

By running the same Static Study we also find out the


maximum vonMises stress and where is located. The
maximum value is 4.173 MPa, as in Fig.6, which is much
lower than the Yield Stress of this aluminium alloy. It is
noticeable that the locations of great stress are on the
upper and lower faces of the box beam, very close to
point A. At point B, the value of vonMises stress is
approximately 0.7 MPa and it decreases towards point C
until it eventually reaches 0.56 KPa.

Fig.6
Modeling idealisations
The welding between the two beams represents the first and most important factor on this analysis.
However, studying this factor is not part of the actual project. For this reason, the structure was
designed as a unit-body and the studies were completed assuming a constant material density
throughout the structure.
Another factor which needs to be taken into consideration is the definition of a point mass. Because
a point mass is physically impossible, an evenly distributed load on a very small area was created. At
point C of the structure, a small cylinder with a radius of 3mm and a height of 1mm was designed in
order to perform the analysis successfully. Because of its very small dimensions, the cylinder will not
visibly affect the results.

Accuracy
In order to check if the results are reasonable and accurate, the same study, on the exact same
model, can be performed in different software. In this case CATIA V5 was used. Because the
percentages of error are less than 5%, it is considered that the difference is due to the mesh
difference and the slight difference of 1.1% in the mass density.

Finite Element Analysis Coursework


Bogdan Serbanescu 5525368
serbaneb@uni.coventry.ac.uk
CATIA
Solidworks
Stress
4.035MPa
4.173MPa
Displacement
-1.387mm
-1.444mm
Frequency 1
20.13 Hz
19.39 Hz
Frequency 2
24.68 Hz
23.79 Hz
Frequency 3
65.51 Hz
62.96Hz
Elastic Modulus
70 Gpa
70GPa
Mass Density
2710kg/m3 2680kg/m3
Yield Stress
250MPa
255MPa
Tab.3

Error %
3.3%
3.9%
3.7%
3.6%
3.9%
1.1%
1.96%

The difference in mesh size is a factor which plays a crucial role in getting accurate results. As
illustrated in the graph below, the accuracy increases proportional with the number of nodes in the
mesh. There is a difference of 5.75% between the displacement obtained by using the smallest and
the biggest mesh. Throughout both studies performed in SolidWorks, the most accurate mesh was
applied, in this case having more than 60000 nodes.

61476

33002
Accuracy
16403
5051

7450

-1.35 -1.36 -1.37 -1.38 -1.39 -1.4 -1.41 -1.42 -1.43 -1.44 -1.45

Conclusion
The objective of the project was successfully met, the studies on the structure were performed using
Solidworks and the results obtained were collected and analysed. Furthermore, the cause of errors
and the idealizations that helped achieving the data were explained.
The structure can successfully support a mass of 0.5kg without deforming plastically. The design of
the I-beam is more efficient at serving this purpose than the box-beam, due to its shape.
References
Finite Element Analaysis Software | Autodesk available from
http://www.autodesk.com/solutions/finite-element-analysis
[7.12.2015]
Coursework Brief , School of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering
available on Moodle
[7.12.2015]
3D CAD Design Software SolidWorks Education Edition Software

Finite Element Analysis Coursework


Bogdan Serbanescu 5525368
serbaneb@uni.coventry.ac.uk

[30.11.2015]
CATIA V5 Student Edition
[3.12.2015]