As wind turbine blades grow in length, there is an increase in weight, gravity, and wind loads.  Collier Research Corporation’s HyperSizer composite analysis software guides engineers towards lighter, stronger, and more manufacturable designs earlier in the design process.
As wind turbine blades grow in length, there is an increase in weight, gravity, and wind loads. Collier Research Corporation’s HyperSizer composite analysis software guides engineers towards lighter, stronger, and more manufacturable designs earlier in the design process.
This aircraft wingbox analysis in HyperSizer shows colour-coded composite laminate sections, demonstrating the software’s capability to customise for location-specific loading and to increase manufacturing efficiency.
This aircraft wingbox analysis in HyperSizer shows colour-coded composite laminate sections, demonstrating the software’s capability to customise for location-specific loading and to increase manufacturing efficiency.

HyperSizer performs stress analysis and sizing optimisation, reducing the weight of aircraft and space vehicles – whether designed with composites or traditional metallic materials.

Developed by NASA, the HyperSizer software is said to have a track record of 20% weight reduction in high-profile government and commercial aerospace projects.

“One of the biggest roadblocks to effective composite design is the inability of engineers to adequately explore optimised lay-ups simultaneously with other design variables,” says Craig Collier, president of Collier Research, Hampton, Virginia, USA. “This results in design inefficiencies and compromises.”

To address these issues, HyperSizer integrates with finite element analysis (FEA) solvers in a continuous, automated iterative loop, conducting trade studies and examining millions of potential design candidates down to the ply, even element, level. The software ensures structural integrity through an extensive suite of failure analysis predictions that are validated to test data.

The tool also enhances manufacturability by minimising ply drops, identifying and controlling laminate transition drop/add boundaries, and defining best ply shapes and patterns.

HyperSizer can be used from preliminary design to final analysis.

New features

New features in HyperSizer v6 include:

  • Manufacturability optimisation – to help design for efficient manufacturing, the software now has the capability to identify, define and control ply-count compatibility, laminate sequencing, interleaving, and ply-drop minimisation. This results in fewer processing steps, cost-effective layups, and faster turnaround in the mould.
  • Post-buckling analyses – automated compression, shear, and compression-shear post-buckling analyses, based on complex NASA-developed methods that serve as the foundation for metal aircraft design, have now been added. Integrated with flexural-torsional buckling, these allow engineers to cut weight in aluminium skin airframes. Such analyses, difficult to perform with non-linear FEA alone, have been extended to composite material systems as well.
  • Panel concepts – two novel, damage-tolerant composite architectures are now available, providing more structural sizing variables and optimization flexibility: PRSEUS is a Boeing / NASA / Air Force Research Lab-developed dry-fabric woven material pultruded rod structure, while “reinforced core sandwich” is an alternative sandwich panel similar to foam sandwich. Specialised analyses for both these panel concepts have been implemented and correlated to test data established for accurate predictions of strength.

Serving as the analysis hub and automating data transfer during both design and manufacturing cycles, HyperSizer integrates with FEA software, such as Nastran and Abaqus, and with composite CAD tools, such as CATIA and FiberSIM. HyperSizer ensures that design and analysis departments are kept current and working with the same design data.

“Given the increasing emphasis on more complex materials, engineers need to improve and automate their design processes to reach even higher levels of efficiency,” says Collier.

“It’s no longer good enough just to spot-check. Each part needs to be examined as a system. HyperSizer allows engineers to more fully explore the entire design space.”

Wind turbine blade design

HyperSizer is currently being used by NASA on the Heavy Launch Vehicle and by companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Goodrich, Bombardier, and Gulfstream for commercial transport planes and business jets.

Collier is currently collaborating with Sandia National Laboratories Wind Energy Technology Department on the use of optimisation in wind turbine blade prototype design.

“It’s challenging to cut weight while maintaining strength and controlling cost,” says Tom Ashwill, technical leader in Sandia National Laboratories Wind Energy Technology Department.

“HyperSizer has the capability to systematically optimise the placement of a variety of different materials throughout the blade to maximise load resistance and minimise weight and thus cost.”

HyperSizer’s design and manufacturing capabilities are also appropriate for optimising composite-driven designs in other industries, including marine (ship superstructures) and transportation (high-speed railcars).

HperSizer at SAMPE

Collier Research will be featuring HyperSizer v6 at the SAMPE (Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering) 2011 conference in Long Beach, California, USA, on 23-26 May.