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Trebuchet Truss Design and Analysis Using FEM

Trebuchet Truss Design and Analysis Using FEM

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01/20/2011

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Trebuchet Truss Design and AnalysisUsing the Finite Element Method
 
Tal Bar-Or, Samuel H. Gilbert, Lucas G. Hartman, & Wilson R. PullingUniversity of Pennsylvania; Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics229 Towne Building | 220 S. 33rd Street | Philadelphia, PA 19104-6315
1
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – 
 Leonardo Da Vinci
I
NTRODUCTION
 
Team Carchidi designed a trebuchet arm to be constructed with acrylic truss elements. Load computations wereperformed with a supplied MATLAB script to maximize the strength-to-weight ratio of the structure. Themotivations behind this project were to gain valuable design experience and to expand our understanding of loadlevels throughout truss members.
G
OALS
 
This project was aimed at optimizing the strength-to-weight ratio of a truss structure (defined as the failure load of the truss divided by its total weight) while adhering to a list of dimensional and strength specifications. Eachrequirement is detailed below.Structure Size and SupportsThe truss had to be
50

long, supported at the left end by two points A and G at least
5

apart and no morethan
10

apart. Truss elements were not to cross each other. Truss elements that met had to end, and beconnected by pin elements that could transmit loads.MaterialThe truss was designed to be constructed of acrylic, with a density of 
1200
∙
3
.Element AreaThe cross-sectional area,
 
#
, of each truss member could vary but had to be a minimum of 
4×10
5
 
2
.Load RequirementsThe truss had a design load of 
=120
. The load was to be applied vertically at the right end of the truss.Factor of SafetyThe truss had to have a factor of safety of at least
2.0
, meaning it had to resist at least load of up to twice the designload without failure, per the criteria listed below:Yield: The magnitude of stress could not exceed
|
#
|
#
=15

=110
6
 
2
inany member.Buckling: No truss member in compression can have the magnitude of its load,
#
, exceed thevalue
2

#2
12
#2
, where
#
 
is the member’s length, and
 
is the Young’s Modulus
of each member (
=2.5

=2.5×10
9
 
2
). This formula assumes a squarecross-section. Buckling will not occur in tension.StiffnessThe truss structure as a whole had to have a minimum stiffness of 
5
∙
1
. This was calculated at the nodewhere the maximum load was applied. The stiffness was calculated as the ratio of the applied force (design load) tothe magnitude of the vertical deflection at the point of application.
M
ETHOD
 
The truss script was downloaded off of Blackboard and saved into a working directory. The design optimizationprocess consisted of multiple iterations. Each iteration started with the design of a new and/or improved truss on
 
Trebuchet Truss Design and Analysis Using the Finite Element Method
Bar-Or, Gilbert, Hartman, & Pulling
2
paper. Using a text editor, the input files for the Matlab script were edited to reflect each new truss structure to beanalyzed. The first iteration of each unique design was performed using the minimum weight possible for thatstructure (meaning all members had the minimum allowable cross-sectional area). The script was then executed,followed by mathematical post-processing of its output data, which was done in Excel. The calculations performedwill be outlined in Appendices section of this report.Each iteration was based off of the previous
design’s failures and successes.
For example, when a member in anintermediate design was found to have a stress within the allowable tolerance, its cross sectional area was graduallydecreased until its stress was just below the tolerance. This saved weight without compromising
the structure’s
factor of safety. Similarly, when a specific member of the truss structure would have failed by buckling, its cross-sectional area was gradually increased up until it met the required specifications to not fail. By addressing eachfailure point individually, it was possible to meet all specifications while maximizing the strength-to-weight ratio.The opening quote by Da Vinci exemplifies the approach used to designing the truss. To this end, the very firstiteration was a simple triangular arrangement of three truss members, as depicted below in Figure 1. Building onthis design, several iterations of varying complexity took place to yield the design of the final truss.
Figure 2 - Deformation and Distribution of Loads of Truss Iteration A Under Load of 

 
 
0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3 0.35 0.4 0.45 0.5-0.1-0.0500.050.10.150.2X
      Y
 UndeformedTensile stressCompressive stress
Figure 1
 – 
Truss Iteration A
 
 
Trebuchet Truss Design and Analysis Using the Finite Element Method
Bar-Or, Gilbert, Hartman, & Pulling
3
Table 1
 – 
Truss Iteration A: Node Coordinates and Displacements Under Load of 

 
 
Node X-coordinate (m) Y-coordinate (m)
 Horizontal Displacement @240 N(m)Vertical Displacement @240 N (m)
A 0.0 0.1 0.00000 0.00000B 0.5 0.1 0.00200 -0.01350C 0.0 0.0 0.00000 -0.00024
Table 2
 – 
Truss Iteration A: Member Properties: Cross-
sectional Area, Length, Young’s Modulus,
StressNeeded to Cause Yield, and Force Needed to Cause Buckling for Each Member
Member Cross-sectional area (m
2
 ) Length (m)
Young’s
 Modulus (GPa)Stress Needed to Yield (MPa)Compressive Forceto Buckle (kN)
1 0.0001200.5000002.515-2 0.0003950.5099022.5151.2338982593 0.0000400.1000002.515 -
Table 3
 – 
Truss Iteration A: Stress and Buckling Force Experienced by Each Member at Load of 

 
 
Member Stress in Member @ 240 N (MPa)Force in Member @ 240 N (kN)
1 10.00 1.202 3.10 -1.223 6.00 0.24
The data in Tables 1-3 was processed to reveal that this truss had a strength-to-weight ratio of 
76.81
. Its stiffnesswas
17.82
∙
1
.
The truss’ total mass was
0.318

; its weight was
3.12
. Its volume was
2.65 ×10
4
 
3
. The maximum load the structure could handle before failure was
240
. At this load, member 2 (as
depicted in Figure 1) failed by buckling due to compression. Thus, the truss’ factor of safety
was
2
. While thisinitial iteration did fulfill all of the required parameters, further steps were taken to drastically improve the truss.A second major iteration that was undertaken during the lengthy trial and error period is depicted in Figure 3:
“  
UNLOADED
” 
 
240Figure 3
 – 
Truss Iteration B
“  
UNLOADED
” 
 
“  
UNLOADED
” 
 
“  
UNLOADED
” 
 

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