I am a mechanical engineer working in the field of aerospace structures. During the course of my studies, I have studied a course on structural analysis in which I learned 3D Euler-Bernoulli beam theory, thin-walled beam theory, plane stress and plane strain formulations, and a graduate level course on finite element method. I have not studied any shear deformable beam theory or plate theory.

I want to learn the art/science of structural idealization, i.e., reduction of 3D models to a combination of 1D and 2D elements. For example, a long, slender member subjected to axial loads can be modeled as a rod (CROD element in Nastran), or if it is subjected to transverse loads, then beam elements (CBAR or CBEAM in Nastran) can be used. However, I don't know how to idealize complex structures like wing. There are number of modeling approaches available in literature. Some reference suggest membrane elements for wing skins, while others suggest the use of shell elements. Similar "modeling discrepancies" exist for modeling of spar/rib webs.

I was wondering what is the best book/references/approach to use for learning structural idealization?

  • $\begingroup$ Reducing a system to a simple model depends on what is being investigated. For a long and thin object you cannot represent it by a thin rod if you need to account for both translational motion of it and rotation along the long direction - because both the mass and the moment of inertia matter. A structure like a wing can be modeled for some problems as a material point, for other problem as a flat surface, but for other problem it would have to be modeled as a full 3D object. So there is no single prescription for these things but by studying many problems one can develop the intuition for it. $\endgroup$ – Maxim Umansky Dec 3 '20 at 5:11

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