Physical Testing Versus FEA for a Space Frame

A. Minter, E. Chedid, B. Jawad, and C. Riedel (USA)


Space Frame, FEA, Formula SAE, Physical Testing, Torsional Rigidity.


Finite Element Analysis (FEA) assumes ideal connections and material properties when analyzing a steel space frame structure; however, it is not possible to manufacture a frame to the level of accuracy of a computer model. The goal of this paper is to correlate FEA results with real world physical testing of a steel Formula SAE space frame. By constructing a rigid test jig and using several dial indicators at various nodes on the frame and jig, it is possible to measure deflection at those nodes and compare this to FEA test results. Torsional rigidity of the frame was calculated using the measured deflections. The information gained from this study will allow for greater understanding of how the manufacturing process and human error affects the expected properties of a space frame.

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