Calculation of skin-stiffener interface stresses in stiffened composite panels

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

A method for computing the skin-stiffener interface stresses in stiffened composite panels is developed. Both geometrically linear and nonlinear analyses are considered. Particular attention is given to the flange termination region where stresses are expected to exhibit unbounded characteristics. The method is based on a finite-element analysis and an elasticity solution. The finite-element analysis is standard, while the elasticity solution is based on an eigenvalue expansion of the stress functions. The eigenvalue expansion is assumed to be valid in the local flange termination region and is coupled with the finite-element analysis using collocation of stresses on the local region boundaries. In the first part of the investigation the accuracy and convergence of the local elasticity solution are assessed using a geometrically linear analysis. It is found that the finite-element/local elasticity solution scheme produce a very accurate interface stress representation in the local flange termination region. The use of 10 to 15 eigenvalues, in the eigenvalue expansion series, and 100 collocation points results in a converged local elasticity solution. In the second part of the investigation, the local elasticity solution is extended to include geometric nonlinearities. Using this analysis procedure, the influence of geometric nonlinearities on skin-stiffener interface stresses is evaluated. It is found that in flexible stiffened skin structures, which exhibit out-of-plane deformation on the order of 2 to 4 times the skin thickness, inclusion of geometrically nonlinear effects in the calculation of interface stresses is very important. Thus, the use of a geometrically linear analysis, rather than a nonlinear analysis, can lead to considerable error in the computation of the interface stresses. Finally, using the analytical tool developed in this investigation, it is possible to study the influence of stiffener parameters on the state of interface stresses.