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Editor’s Pick: Correlate FEA and Strain Data for Accurate Load Measurements

By Anthony J. Lockwood

Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:

LockwoodIf your job requires predicting fatigue life and managing components in applications where your components undergo environmental loading — say, chassis, bridges, suspensions, landing gears, piping, or parts used in wind power generation — then today’s Pick of the Week should interest you. It could mean getting a load of time back.

Safe Technology recently released an extension toolset for fe-safe, its flagship system for the fatigue analysis of finite element (FE) models. The new product, fe-safe/True-Load, helps you predict and manage the fatigue life of structures with complex loadings over an entire loading event.

Now, what fe-safe/True-Load brings to your cubicle is the ability to couple an Abacus FEA model with measured strain data. Only you don’t have to have tons of stain data or history profiles to begin your analysis. fe-safe/True-Load needs the data from a just a few strain gauges to analyze the structural response of the entire structure or it can work with user-defined unit loading and/or shapes. The correlation of loading data to the FEA model is key here.

How fe-safe/True-Load does what it does is that it treats the components of your FE model as if they were multi-channel load cells — n-dimensional load transducers to be precise — undergoing the stress of unit loading. It then determines and suggests the ideal locations and orientations for your strain gauges, thus optimizing load-sensitivity independence. Its determinations are interactive, and, more importantly, you get immediate response if you choose to experiment with them, according to the company.

Later, fe-safe/True-Load uses your real-world strain measurement data from the field to calculate the time histories of individual applied loads. You can then use these loading histories for post-processing in Abaqus, creating what the company calls a “fatigue-from-FEA analysis.” The company reports that FEA strain correlation is typically within 2% of measured strains for the entire loading history. And, the nub of it all is that you can take your structure from strain gauge measurements to FEA fatigue results in minutes instead of hours or days with that kind of accuracy.

A technical paper linked off of today’s write-up explains more of the theory behind correlating an FEA model with sample data to produce a virtual load transducer. Tomorrow, there’s an online introduction to fe-safe/True-Load and, later this month, there’s an on-site seminar in the UK (links are in today’s write-up). Both are presented by Dr. Tim Hunter, who wrote the paper and who also is president of Wolf Star Technologies, Safe Technology’s partner in developing fe-safe/True-Load.

From the sounds of it, fe-safe/True-Load could bring you new meaning to the word productivity. Give today’s Pick of the Week write-up a read, then attend a webinar to really get the story.

Thanks, pal. — Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

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About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Desktop Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.