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.
Multiscale modeling is a broadly used term to describe any situation where a physical problem is solved by capturing a system's behavior and important features at multiple scales, particularly multiple spatial and/or temporal scales. Applications for multiscale analysis include fluid flow analysis, weather prediction, operations research, and structural analysis, to name a few.
Microstructural modeling is often viewed as an extraneous activity when analyzing the behavior of composites. Many engineers use the "system" properties as the inputs for their part design without considering what contributes to that overall system response.
Many companies that develop new composite materials are surprised when their product does not perform as expected during the physical testing and certification process. In addition to the many years wasted on developing the material, companies often spend more than $50M on developing and testing a single new material concept.
Failure in engineered materials is extremely difficult. In composites, damage originates at the microscale and is then propagated to the global scale. While Finite Element Analysis is a powerful tool, it is limited to the global scale because the mesh refinement needed to get down to the microscale is not feasible in FE programs. At MultiMechanics, we consider this to be a true multiscale problem, since damage at the microscale needs to be assessed and relayed to the macroscale.
As we mentioned in Part I, the history of Finite Element Analysis is deeply intertwined with the evolution of computing. It seems only fitting that the FEA software used to design the world's most cutting-edge products should have the most cutting-edge computational techniques at its disposal. From the early punch days of the 60's through the 2000's, FEA companies have found unique ways to take advantage of the ever-changing computer landscape.