Application of Load Updating to a Complex Three Dimensional Frame Structure

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Virginia Tech


This thesis presents a novel method for the correlation of FEM results to experimental test results known as the "Load updating method." Specifically, the load updating method uses the math model from the FEM and the strains measured from experimental or flight test data as inputs and then predicts the loads in the FEM which would result in strains that would correlate best to the measured strains in the least squared sense. In this research, the load updating method is applied to the analysis of a complex frame structure whose validation is challenging due to the complex nature of its structural behavior, load distributions, and error derived from residual strains. A FEM created for this structure is used to generate strain data for thirty-two different load cases. These same thirty-two load cases are replicated in an experimental setup consisting of the frame, supporting structure, and thirty actuators which are used to load the frame according to the specifications for each of the thirty-two load conditions. A force-strain matrix is created from the math model in NASTRAN using unit loads which are separately applied to each load point in order to extract strain results for each of the locations of the seventy-four strain gages. The strain data from the structural test and the force-strain matrix is then input into a Matlab code which is created to perform the load updating method. This algorithm delivers a set of coefficients which in turn gives the updated loads. These loads are applied to the FEM and the strain values extracted for correlation to the strains from test data. It is found that the load updating method applied to this structure produces strains which correlate well to the experimental strain data. Although the loads found using the load updating method do not perfectly match those which are applied during the test, this error is primarily attributed to residual strains within the structure. In summary, the load updating method provides a way to predict loads which, when applied to the FEM, would result in strains that correlate best to the experimental strains. Ultimately, this method could prove especially useful for predicting loads in experimental and flight test structures and could aid greatly in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification process.



Load Updating, Model Updating, Loads Prediction, Finite element method, Strain Gage Data Correlation, NASTRAN, Structural Testing