The introduction of exact geometry measurements used in creating aircraft to increase efficiency and develop new approaches to computer aided design (CAD), analysis, and manufacturing.
Start: 15 June, 2014
End: 14 June, 2017
Contract Terms: Air Force Office of Scientific Research
- Principal Investigator: Michael Scott
- Co-PIs: Richard Balling, David Jensen
Project Description and Intellectual Merit:
Computer aided design (CAD) programs allow designers and engineers to build a computer replica of their product before constructing a physical prototype. Such programs are key because they allow designers and engineers to make changes/adjustments in the earliest preliminary design stage before manufacturing takes place. However, current CAD software design has a significant usability gap between singular independent components and complex interrelated systems. This gap is due in part to the highly simplified geometry and physics that is typically employed in CAD programming. The use of sub-par geometry and physics leads to low-fidelity designs, or designs that do not work as expected when they are manufactured. The simplified geometry of previous CAD programs makes it difficult to deviate from the originally constructed model, limiting the freedom of designers and engineers when revising their products. Increased production cost is another consequence—the parts must be manufactured before their faults can be fully identified. Finally, CAD programs that lead to substandard renderings lengthen the design and production timeline, increasing the necessary project budget.
Professors Scott, Balling, and Jensen hope to overcome the drawbacks of previous CAD programs to accurately model complex structures by employing isogeometric analysis. This kind of analysis uses exact geometric descriptions as the foundation for component design analysis and optimization. To test their ideas, they will be using T-splines (an airplane part that organizes aircraft control points in the wing structure). The T-spline that will be developed can be used in airfoils and internal wing components, such as the skin, spans, stiffeners, and ribs. The researchers have set three aims to measure their success: 1) the development of a waterproof T-spline, 2) a computer-rendered design that is geometrically exact and aligns with physics principles, and 3) that the computer-rendered design will not require any additional optimization.
The value of this project lies in its ability to create a computer-based program that accounts for geometric requirements and obeys the laws of physics. The researchers are hopeful that their results can be applied to any system that is currently being designed with CAD programs. The program will allow designers and engineers to manipulate a wide-range of design variables and make decisive adjustments to the computer replica. The increase in accuracy of the geometric measurements will allow for more significant changes throughout the design process. Feedback from system assessments can contribute more substantively to the final product, accurately testing the product before beginning the physical manufacturing. The previously linear process with distinct design and manufacturing phases will be integrated through this innovative approach, creating an interactive cycle that includes conceptualizing and prototyping.