Worcester Polytechnic Institute
The Roadside Safety Research Group at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has been modeling crash events and, in particular, full-scale crash tests for many years under the guidance of Prof. Malcolm H. Ray. With the latest generation of explicit non-linear Finite Element solvers is now possible to simulate a complex event such as a crash test or an impact in general in a very realistic detail. This allows the researcher to deeply analyze the dynamic of the structures involved in the impact and design better crashworthy structures.
In order to be able to simulate in full detail a non-linear event, it is often necessary to consider both the material and geometrical nonlinearities of the involved structures. As for the latter aspect, the geometry of the model has to carefully reproduce the real structures, which are often characterized by complex 3-D surfaces.
At WPI, Patran is widely used to create new models starting from scratch. In particular, in the former case, if a CAD drawing was already available, it would be easily imported using the convenient import options available for most of the CAD formats. In case the geometry would not be immediately available in digital format, it can be created using the powerful CAD capabilities of Patran.
Also, our team uses Patran to modify the mesh of existing models by taking advantage of the excellent capabilities that it offers to recreate the geometry from an existing mesh and/or scaling and modifying elements of imported models.
Another feature we have found to be very useful is the possibility to use Patran to translate an FE model form one platform to another (e.g., convert the mesh of a Nastran input file into an Abaqus or Ls-Dyna compatible file).
Eventually, Patran helps us saving time in the creation or modification of the model mesh allowing to focus immediately on the analysis of the problems under investigation. Thanks to software like Patran, we can make quicker and successful steps in the improvement of the safety of roadside hardware.
By Mario Mongiardini, Research Engineer, WPI.