A few years ago, I was fortunate to work on a team that designed a road bike power meter that made it into the bike kit for a professional cycling team. That’s a rewarding accomplishment for a “roadie” like me. Finite element analysis (FEA) was an integral part of the success of that product and insights from the analyses led to a decisive mechanical change during development. It’s safe to say I’m passionate about numerical simulation.
Now I’m taking on a new challenge and am employing FEA to develop hi-tech structural composites. Here, industry is moving toward the numerical simulation realm of virtual rapid prototyping, early in the design cycle, and away from the expensive and time consuming loop to physically build, test, iterate, repeat. Physical validation of simulation is still critical but the goal is to reserve it for mature designs that are already well understood through FEA.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is increasingly being used to make functional plastic parts in the aerospace industry and this trend is expected to continue and grow in other industries as well. All functional parts have an expected performance that they must sustain during their lifetime. Ensuring this performance is attained is crucial for aerospace components, but important in all applications. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is an important predictor of part performance in a wide range of industries, but this is not straightforward for the simulation of FDM parts due to difficulties in accurately representing the material behavior in a constitutive model. In part 1 of this article, I list some of the challenges in the development of constitutive models for FDM parts. In part 2, I will discuss possible approaches to addressing these challenges while developing constitutive models that offer some value to the analyst. Continue reading