The first step in designing a component or assembly is to generate a computer aided drawing using CAD solid modelling software. Alibre Design is used to perform this first step. This inital phase may require lab testing at the coupon level to define parameters such as: material thickness, adhesive bond area, composite laminate lay-up etc.
The second step involves performing a structural analysis using either a manual solid mechanics method or a finite element analysis model using NASTRAN.
To perform FEA, the geometry may be generated in FEMAP (pre-processor) or imported from the CAD file. The structural geometry and material properties are also necessary. The model is translated into NASTRAN code where the assembly is analysed and results are generated.
Having performed the necessary computations, the solid mechanics solution can be reviewed and the structure modified to suit design requirements.
For FEA, the results are fed back to FEMAP (post-processor) where the NASTRAN data can be reviewed on the structure itself. Numerous iterations can be made until desired requirements are met.
Having performed all necesary laboratory testing and analysis, the structure can be built. If this is a new design, a proptype can be built.
The method of fabrication is dependent upon the materials used and production requirements. For composites, resin infusion is becoming more popular. For metallic and plastic structure assemblies, fasteners and welding are most common; however, structural bonding is gaining acceptance in various industries.