Physical Testing vs Multiscale Virtual Simulation of Advanced Materials

The transportation industry is increasingly adopting advanced materials, which, as a result of increases in specific strength, offer improved efficiency, lower emissions, and decreased fuel consumption compared to traditional metal components. However, the transition to advanced materials has been slowed as structural analyses have become more complex and demanding.

The time and cost for a material supplier to develop a new structural aerospace material can take five years and up to $50M, while the cost to the OEM to certify the material can be even higher. Supplementing physical testing with computational analysis is a goal for many, but it is complicated by the unique behavior and challenges presented by composites.

Traditional Material Design Iteration

Due to limitations presented by popular commercial tools, most companies still undergo an extensive “build and destroy” process with every new material they develop. There are several issues with this approach, all of which have a negative impact on the cost and time to take a new product to market:

  • An unknown number of iterations are built and destroyed to undergo countless manufacture and performance scenarios
  • Each iteration results in added time and cost, wasting company resources and materials
  • Uncertainties in formulation exist due to manufacturing variability; several samples are needed
  • Design iterations are based on parametric studies and materials engineering experience

Design Iteration with Analytical Simulation Software

Virtual testing of advanced materials has existed for nearly a decade. The most popular tools were adopted quickly by transportation companies due to their fast results. However, these tools have not provided sufficient enough results for companies to be able to drastically reduce their physical testing processes, resulting in slow adoption of advanced materials.

The reason these tools are insufficient is because they sacrifice accuracy in order to provide a quick, easy result. Results are oversimplified and based on physical testing data from manufacturers, leading to unexpected failure and overdesign of composite parts and systems.

Design Iteration with Multiscale Simulation Software

True multiscale simulation software extends the flexibility and robustness of the Finite Element Method down to the microstructural scale and connects behavior at that level to the overall behavior of the macroscale. Many companies can “multiscale” on some level, but MultiMechanics’ flagship product, MultiMech, is the only commercially available software platform that links micro- and macroscale behavior.

Designing composites using TRUE multiscale software allows for much more realistic damage modeling, giving engineers true visibility into the behavior of their composite products. Damage scenarios on the microstructural level such as fiber rupture, resin cracking, and fiber-resin debonding can be accurately modeled and accounted for, allowing engineers to optimize their design before producing a physical prototype.

TRUE multiscale simulation is estimated to reduce the time and cost of developing and certifying new materials by 40%. It also gives engineers insight into exactly how, when, and where damage will occur, and how they can mitigate it.

To learn how MultiMechanics customers are reducing the time and cost to develop and certify new materials by as much as 40%, click here to read a case study.