Automated mixed dimensional modelling from 2D and 3D CAD models

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43 Citations (Scopus)
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The motivation for this paper is to present procedures for automatically creating idealised finite element models from the 3D CAD solid geometry of a component. The procedures produce an accurate and efficient analysis model with little effort on the part of the user. The technique is applicable to thin walled components with local complex features and automatically creates analysis models where 3D elements representing the complex regions in the component are embedded in an efficient shell mesh representing the mid-faces of the thin sheet regions. As the resulting models contain elements of more than one dimension, they are referred to as mixed dimensional models. Although these models are computationally more expensive than some of the idealisation techniques currently employed in industry, they do allow the structural behaviour of the model to be analysed more accurately, which is essential if appropriate design decisions are to be made. Also, using these procedures, analysis models can be created automatically whereas the current idealisation techniques are mostly manual, have long preparation times, and are based on engineering judgement. In the paper the idealisation approach is first applied to 2D models that are used to approximate axisymmetric components for analysis. For these models 2D elements representing the complex regions are embedded in a 1D mesh representing the midline of the cross section of the thin sheet regions. Also discussed is the coupling, which is necessary to link the elements of different dimensionality together. Analysis results from a 3D mixed dimensional model created using the techniques in this paper are compared to those from a stiffened shell model and a 3D solid model to demonstrate the improved accuracy of the new approach. At the end of the paper a quantitative analysis of the reduction in computational cost due to shell meshing thin sheet regions demonstrates that the reduction in degrees of freedom is proportional to the square of the aspect ratio of the region, and for long slender solids, the reduction can be proportional to the aspect ratio of the region if appropriate meshing algorithms are used.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-165
Number of pages15
JournalFinite Elements in Analysis and Design
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analysis
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Engineering(all)
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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