Methods for increased computational efficiency of multibody simulations

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Epple, Alexander
Bauchau, Olivier A.
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This thesis is concerned with the efficient numerical simulation of finite element based flexible multibody systems. Scaling operations are systematically applied to the governing index-3 differential algebraic equations in order to solve the problem of ill conditioning for small time step sizes. The importance of augmented Lagrangian terms is demonstrated. The use of fast sparse solvers is justified for the solution of the linearized equations of motion resulting in significant savings of computational costs. Three time stepping schemes for the integration of the governing equations of flexible multibody systems are discussed in detail. These schemes are the two-stage Radau IIA scheme, the energy decaying scheme, and the generalized-α method. Their formulations are adapted to the specific structure of the governing equations of flexible multibody systems. The efficiency of the time integration schemes is comprehensively evaluated on a series of test problems. Formulations for structural and constraint elements are reviewed and the problem of interpolation of finite rotations in geometrically exact structural elements is revisited. This results in the development of a new improved interpolation algorithm, which preserves the objectivity of the strain field and guarantees stable simulations in the presence of arbitrarily large rotations. Finally, strategies for the spatial discretization of beams in the presence of steep variations in cross-sectional properties are developed. These strategies reduce the number of degrees of freedom needed to accurately analyze beams with discontinuous properties, resulting in improved computational efficiency.
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