Multiscale Modeling: Just the Tip of the Iceberg

This guest post on Innovation Intelligence was written by Andy MacKrell, Application Engineer at MultiMechanics. The company’s state-of-the-art multiscale finite element software package MultiMech helps companies using advanced materials greatly reduce physical prototyping and testing. MultiMechanics is a member of the Altair Partner Alliance (APA).

Many people believe that all “multiscale” modeling techniques are alike. However, like an iceberg, the true substance of each technique is hidden below the surface. In the January edition of Scientific Computing World, two companies were featured in an article about the use of advanced computing in the oil and gas industry, supplier NOV Elmar and APA member MultiMechanics.

The article explains that NOV Elmar uses design tools offered within the comprehensive computer-aided engineering (CAE) suite Altair HyperWorks® daily, including HyperMesh®, RADIOSS®, and HyperView®. Altair’s open architecture enabling the use of pre- and post-processing tools and solvers in conjunction with 3rd party and proprietary codes was cited by a senior design engineer as a significant advantage. A jointly developed post-processing plug-in for stress linearization was identified as an extension of this flexibility.

MultiMech, a 3rd party solver integrated with the HyperWorks platform through the company’s membership in the APA, was used to predict variable strength of icebergs based on the temperature of the surrounding water and iceberg-structure interactions.

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This may seem far afield from MultiMechanics’ wheelhouse of analyzing advanced composites, but because of the software’s extremely flexible microstructure modeling architecture, the problem was actually an easy fit.

Despite the apparent differences, icebergs and composites have something in common: they are both multiphase materials, although icebergs are made of ice and air voids within the ice instead of resin and fibers. The volume fraction of these voids greatly affects the overall properties of the iceberg, just as the volume fraction of carbon fibers affects the properties of an injection molded part.

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These icebergs interact with offshore structures, which are often composites. Therefore, the ultimate goal is to predict the composite-ice interaction. For these scenarios, both materials are non-linear, so the ability to perform robust simulations that can take into account the sources of non-linearity is crucial if you wish to obtain reasonably accurate results and not fall into the overdesign trap. More often than not, the sources of non-linear behavior are found at the microstructural level, such as material defects and micro-cracking. This is true for composites and icebergs alike, as the mentioned project demonstrated. Modeling these microstructures and analyzing them in both quasi-static and dynamic fashions is the core competency of MultiMechanics.

MultiMechanics partners with oil companies to help them understand the behavior of their structures in service – e.g., structural interactions with oceanic ice. Ice strength dictates the strength properties required for offshore drilling platforms and equipment. The stronger the ice that the platform interacts with, the stronger the platform must be, yet the ice properties vary greatly depending on the microstructural composition.  The company’s versatile multiscale technology and extensive materials expertise made MultiMechanics a natural choice for the analysis such a complex problem.

Multiscale technology is a way to tackle the design complexities inherent in composites and other multiphase materials without the expected computational overhead. This is achieved by substituting an over-refined single FE model with multiple interconnected and coarser FE models representing different length scales. This approach yields computational gains that can reduce computational time from hours to minutes, without loss of accuracy or flexibility. As a user, you must be judicious about asking questions and weighing the pros and cons of different techniques.

To learn more about MultiMechanics and its breakthrough composite modeling technologies, visit MultiMechanics.com.  For more information about Altair partners and relevant domain solutions, please visit the APA composites modeling page.

Altair Partner Alliance

Altair Partner Alliance

The Altair Partner Alliance (APA) provides access to a broad spectrum of complementary software products, through the use of HyperWorks Units (HWUs) at no additional cost. Their continuously expanding list of partner software, across a broad range of disciplines, serves the needs of hundreds of companies ranging from automotive, aerospace, and defense to consumer products, biomedical and heavy equipment. The APA curates a diverse collection of blog posts written by its many partners to keep readers informed on a variety of trending engineering topics.
Altair Partner Alliance
Altair Partner Alliance

About Altair Partner Alliance

The Altair Partner Alliance (APA) provides access to a broad spectrum of complementary software products, through the use of HyperWorks Units (HWUs) at no additional cost. Their continuously expanding list of partner software, across a broad range of disciplines, serves the needs of hundreds of companies ranging from automotive, aerospace, and defense to consumer products, biomedical and heavy equipment. The APA curates a diverse collection of blog posts written by its many partners to keep readers informed on a variety of trending engineering topics.