Efficient Methods for Structural Analysis of Built-Up Wings
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The aerospace industry is increasingly coming to the conclusion that physics-based high-fidelity models need to be used as early as possible in the design of its products. At the preliminary design stage of wing structures, though highly desirable for its high accuracy, a detailed finite element analysis(FEA) is often not feasible due to the prohibitive preparation time for the FE model data and high computation cost caused by large degrees of freedom. In view of this situation, often equivalent beam models are used for the purpose of obtaining global solutions. However, for wings with low aspect ratio, the use of equivalent beam models is questionable, and using an equivalent plate model would be more promising. An efficient method, Equivalent Plate Analysis or simply EPA, using an equivalent plate model, is developed in the present work for studying the static and free-vibration problems of built-up wing structures composed of skins, spars, and ribs. The model includes the transverse shear effects by treating the built-up wing as a plate following the Reissner-Mindlin theory (FSDT). The Ritz method is used with the Legendre polynomials being employed as the trial functions. Formulations are such that there is no limitation on the wing thickness distribution. This method is evaluated, by comparing the results with those obtained using MSC/NASTRAN, for a set of examples including both static and dynamic problems. The Equivalent Plate Analysis (EPA) as explained above is also used as a basis for generating other efficient methods for the early design stage of wing structures, such that they can be incorporated with optimization tools into the process of searching for an optimal design. In the search for an optimal design, it is essential to assess the structural responses quickly at any design space point. For such purpose, the FEA or even the above EPA, which establishes the stiffness and mass matrices by integrating contributions spar by spar, rib by rib, are not efficient enough. One approach is to use the Artificial Neural Network (ANN), or simply called Neural Network (NN) as a means of simulating the structural responses of wings. Upon an investigation of applications of NN in structural engineering, methods of using NN for the present purpose are explored in two directions, i.e. the direct application and the indirect application. The direct method uses FEA or EPA generated results directly as the output. In the indirect method, the wing inner-structure is combined with the skins to form an "equivalent" material. The constitutive matrix, which relates the stress vector to the strain vector, and the density of the equivalent material are obtained by enforcing mass and stiffness matrix equities with regard to the EPA in a least-square sense. Neural networks for these material properties are trained in terms of the design variables of the wing structure. It is shown that this EPA with indirect application of Neural Networks, or simply called an Equivalent Skin Analysis (ESA) of the wing structure, is more efficient than the EPA and still fairly good results can be obtained. Another approach is to use the sensitivity techniques. Sensitivity techniques are frequently used in structural design practices for searching the optimal solutions near a baseline design. In the present work, the modal response of general trapezoidal wing structures is approximated using shape sensitivities up to the second order, and the use of second order sensitivities proved to be yielding much better results than the case where only first order sensitivities are used. Also different approaches of computing the derivatives are investigated. In a design space with a lot of design points, when sensitivities at each design point are obtained, it is shown that the global variation in the design space can be readily given based on these sensitivities.
- Doctoral Dissertations