Cross-Sectional Stiffness Properties of Complex Drone Wings

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Virginia Tech

The main purpose of this thesis is to develop a beam element in order to model the wing of a drone, made of composite materials. The proposed model consists of the framework for the structural design and analysis of long slender beam like structures, e.g., wings, wind turbine blades, and helicopter rotor blades, etc. The main feature consists of the addition of the coupling between axial and bending with torsional effects that may arise when using composite materials and the coupling stemming from the inhomogeneity in cross-sections of any arbitrary geometry. This type of modeling approach allows for an accurate yet computationally inexpensive representation of a general class of beam-like structures.

The framework for beam analysis consists of main two parts, cross-sectional analysis of the beam sections and then using this section analysis to build up the finite element model. The cross-sectional analysis is performed in order to predict the structural properties for composite sections, which are used for the beam model.

The thesis consists of the model to validate the convergence of the element size required for the cross-sectional analysis. This follows by the validation of the shell models of constant cross-section to assess the performance of the beam elements, including coupling terms. This framework also has the capability of calculating the strains and displacements at various points of the cross-section. Natural frequencies and mode shapes are compared for different cases of increasing complexity with those available in the papers. Then, the framework is used to analyze the wing of a drone and compare the results to a model developed in NASTRAN.

Composites, Timoshenko beam, Cross-sectional Analysis, Drones, stress recovery, strain recovery.