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IJSTE - International Journal of Science Technology & Engineering | Volume 3 | Issue 11 | May 2017

ISSN (online): 2349-784X

Effect of RIB Orientation in Isogrid Structures:


Aerospace Applications
Anu Antony Resmi SS
PG Student Scientist 'SE'
Department of Civil Engineering Department of Structural Engineering
Mar Athanasius College of Engineering, Kothamangalam, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Indian Space Research
Kerala, India Organization

Deepa Varkey
Professor
Department of Civil Engineering
Mar Athanasius College of Engineering, Kothamangalam, Kerala, India

Abstract
Launch vehicle design has become presently more challenging with the requirements for faster realization with higher reliability,
repeatability, lower cost and better payload capability. Isogrid structure is one of the best choice for achieving the payload gain
in aerospace field. The ribs that constitute the isogrid are arranged in three categories so that a repetitive lattice of triangular cell
structure is formed. This rib pattern forms triangular trusses by maintaining isotropic property. Ribs when arranged in 60ᵒ pattern
is known as isogrids; when oriented in 90ᵒ pattern is termed as orthogrids. In this paper, a typical study is done on isogrid and
orthogrid type of structures which comprises of ribs that are arranged in helical and orthogonal pattern. Orientation effect as well
as the effect on outward and inward placement of ribs were studied. Rib and skin thickness are varied for different load cases and
are analyzed for static and buckling. Different failure modes were estimated based on the finite element analysis. MSc Nastran
FE tool is used for analysis and compared the results of analysis with in-house developed finite element software FEAST. From
this study, it is concluded that buckling factor is high for orthogrid and isogrid structures when ribs are placed externally.
Keywords: Isogrid, Orthogrid, Horizontal ribs, Vertical ribs, Inclined Ribs, Buckling, Shell - Beam element, Shell - Shell
element
________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I. INTRODUCTION

Grid stiffened panels are widely used in aerospace applications for payload fairings of launch vehicles and load bearing
structures of satellites due to the advantages of light weight, low manufacturing cost, high strength, high stability, great energy
absorption and superior damage tolerance. In launch vehicle structures design, compressively loaded structures in the form of
plates and shells are widely used. Inorder to improve the load carrying capability, such structures are stiffened with stringers. In
launch vehicles, structures in the form of cylindrical or conical shells are used as upper interstage structures. These interstage
structures are bolted to metallic end rings at its top and bottom.

II. ISOGRID STRUCTURES

Isogrid structure is a network of ribs forming an array of repetitive equilateral pattern of integral stiffening of skin of the
structure. The triangular ribs behave as an isotropic material and hence known as isogrid. The isogrid structure having the
advantage to resist both compressive and bending loads, which makes this type of construction attractive to the structural
designers. Because of the arrangement of ribs, they can carry combined loads. Hence the simplest isotropic stiffening pattern is
the one with a network of 60ᵒ equilateral triangles. Such a kind of pattern is also capable to withstand loading without attached
skin material. Figure 1 shows the isogrid panel. The characteristics of isogrid structure include isotropism (no direction of
instability), a poisson's ratio of 0.33 and efficient compression and bending load resistance etc.

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Effect of RIB Orientation in Isogrid Structures: Aerospace Applications
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Fig. 1: Isogrid Panels

Several analysis and test data indicate that isogrid structures tends to be somewhat lighter than skin stringer structures. It is
usually elastically isotropic and does not depend upon one-sidedness effect of the ribs. For minimizing the weight and material
costs plate and shell type structures are subjected to bending or buckling loads require stiffening to maximize the bending
rigidity of the wall construction for a minimum weight of material. In isogrid structures, grid members are arranged in isosceles
triangular pattern. For achieving maximum efficiency, accurate prediction of failure loads are required. Local and general
instability compression failure modes occur in these type of structures. Various analytical techniques can predict the isogrid
element crippling and buckling loads.

Design & Realisation Aspects


Configuration
For design, the overall configuration of the structure will be considered for the design.
Loads
Equivalent axial lad or axial load and bending moment combination will be considered. A Load factor of 1.25 is taken in to
consideration along with the limit load during the design phase.
Interface
Structures are connected to adjacent structures using interface fasteners. Fore end and aft end of the structure is provided with
end rings. Type and number of interface fasteners are decided based on the load coming over the structure.
Fabrication Aspects
In aerospace industry, stiffeners and skin are formed from sheets. Stringers are extruded and machined from various processes.
The end ring is forged and machined. The bulkhead is formed and machined. The isogrid plate is machined.
Failure Modes
There are various failure mode associated with various types of constructions. For the structure being discussed, the expected
failure modes should be analyzed and sufficient margin of safety should be there against each failure mode. General instability,
stringer/stiffener instability, skin buckling, inter-rivet buckling, skin wrinkling are some failure modes.

III. CHOICE OF MATERIALS

The knowledge of materials and their properties have a considerable role in designing process. The structural element or the
machine elements should be made of material which is suitable for the conditions of operation. The physical and mechanical
properties of material are related with the ability of the material to carry the mechanical forces and loads. The engineering
properties depends on its chemical composition. A design engineer must be familiar with the manufacturing process and types of
heat treatment process on the materials. A structural designer must choose a material with high specific strength and high
specific stiffness along with other desirable characteristics. Factors like cost, availability, ease of fabrication, and flexibility of
attachment options are also considered during material selection. Materials commonly used in aircraft/launch vehicle industry for
design of launch vehicles can be of metallic or composite types. Aluminum alloys are found to be more widely used for
manufacturing of launch vehicle structures. Since the strength and stiffness of these alloys are not high compared to some other
materials, they are more efficient. The main advantage of aluminum alloys are they are inexpensive, easily formed and machined
and are easily available. The 2xxx series aluminum alloys among the aluminum alloy series, are commonly used in launch
vehicle structures.

IV. DESIGN OF ISOGRID STRUCTURE

For thin cylindrical shell structure subjected to uniform axial compression, buckling is the primary failure mode. For efficient
structural design of a compression member, critical buckling stress should be equal to the ultimate strength of the material of its
fabrication. But in most practical cases, the critical buckling stress of a compression member is usually lower than its

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Effect of RIB Orientation in Isogrid Structures: Aerospace Applications
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compressive material strength. Here an attempt is made to obtain an effective design of such cylindrical shell as isogrid structure.
When ribs and skin are combined, the composite construction is treated as an isotropic layered material, with appropriate elastic
constants. The internal strains in the composite construction are determined by the stress resultants and couples in the composite
construction.
The rib and skin elements are combined to produce an equivalent skin thickness t* and equivalent modulus E* such that the
structure can be treated like an equivalent monocoque cylindrical structure.
The equivalent monocoque skin thickness which will give same extensional and bending stiffness K and D.
Equivalent skin thickness, t* = t β ( 1+α)
Equivalent modulus, E* = E( 1+α)2 /β
and the stiffnesses are
Extensional stiffness,

Bending stiffness,

Loads Considered
The loads applied to the structure are shown in Table- 2.
Table – 2
Loads Applied to Structure
Type of Loading Axial force (kN) Bending Moment (kNm) Equivalent Axial Load (kN)
Compression -670 2529 -3199
Tension 993 2707 3700

Design Parameters
The design input data are:Radius of the Cylinder, R = 2000 mm
 Young's Modulus of the material, E = 68670 N/ mm2
 Equivalent Axial Compressive Load, FC = - 3199 kN
 Bending Moment, M = 2529 kNm (for compression case)
 Equivalent Axial Tensile Load, F T = 3700 kN
 Bending Moment, M = 2707 kN (for tension case)
The Isogrid parameters which ensures simultaneous failure of isogrid structure are ‘General instability’, ‘Skin Buckling’ and
‘Rib Crippling’. [Ref-32]
General Instability,
(1)
Ncr1 = 373 N/mm
Skin Buckling,
(2)
Ncr2 = 291 N/mm

Rib Crippling,
(3)
Ncr3 = 1547.34 N/mm
where, b= Rib thickness; t=skin thickness; h=Height; d=Depth of ribs; R= Radius of shell; E=Young's modulus of shell;
bd d
α = ; β= √3α (1 + δ)2 + (1 + α)(1 + αδ2 ) ; δ= ;
th t

Estimation of Buckling Strength of Isogrid


Buckling strength is estimated in terms of critical edge load. If P and M are the axial load and bending moment, then
Applied edge load,
Nx for isogrid panel  P  M
2 R  R
2
where, R is the radius of the cylinder panel.
−670 𝑥 103 2529 𝑥 106
Nx = ± = -254.75 N/mm
2 𝑥 𝜋 𝑥 2000 𝜋 𝑥 20002
Ncr2
Minimum margin based on design = -1 = 0.14
Nx

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Effect of RIB Orientation in Isogrid Structures: Aerospace Applications
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V. FE MODEL DESCRIPTION

In this study, the isogrid and orthogrid cylindrical structures are idealized as shell and beam structure in which ribs and skin
thickness are varied for different load cases. Studies on orientation of external and internal ribs are also carried out for each load
cases. Load cases considered here are compression load and tension load. Analysis for each load case are separately done for
both external and internal ribs. Vertical and horizontal ribs lies along with these shell and beam structures. These structures are
modelled and analyzed using FEAST and MSc Nastran - finite element software. The corresponding displacements, stresses and
buckling load factors for each load cases are analyzed and compared. Skin and rib thicknesses are arrived at based on the design
and zonal thickness plots for isogrid and orthogrid are shown in Fig. 2 and 3.

Fig. 2: Zonal Thickness Plot for Isogrid

Fig. 3: Zonal Thickness Plot for orthogrid

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Effect of RIB Orientation in Isogrid Structures: Aerospace Applications
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Isogrids - Inclined Ribs (Internal & External)


In this study, Isogrid cylindrical structure is idealized as shell element having ribs and skin with internal and external ribs for
compression and tension loads and are analyzed for static and buckling. Thickness of the rib and skin are varied and the material
property is assumed to be isotropic. Rib thickness is taken to be 3.2mm, 2.6mm, and 2.4mm. Skin thickness is 2.2mm.

Fig. 4: FE Model-Isogrids (Internal Ribs)

Fig. 5: FE Model-Isogrids (External Ribs)

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Effect of RIB Orientation in Isogrid Structures: Aerospace Applications
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Orthogrids
In this study, Orthogrid cylindrical structure is idealized as shell element having ribs and skin with internal and external ribs for
compression and tension loads and are analyzed for static and buckling. Thickness of the rib and skin are varied and the material
property is assumed to be isotropic. Rib thickness is taken to be 3.2mm, 2.6mm, and 2.4mm. Skin thickness is 2.2mm.

Fig. 6: FE Model-Orthogrids (Internal Ribs)

Fig. 7: FE Model-Orthogrids (External Ribs)

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Effect of RIB Orientation in Isogrid Structures: Aerospace Applications
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VI. RESULTS

Comparison of internal and external ribs for isogrids and orthogrids are tabulated in Table 3 and 4.
Table – 3
Shell Structure (Isogrid) -Comparison of Internal and External Ribs
Sl No. Parameters Internal Rib External Rib
Compressive Stress (N/mm2) -157 -155
1.
Tensile Stress (N/mm2) 236 257
Displacement-Compression (mm) -6.81 -6.73
2.
Displacement-Tension (mm) 7.87 7.79
3. Buckling Factor 1.58 1.8
4. Buckling Factor Percentage 12% higher than internal rib
Table – 4
Shell Structure (Orthogrid) -Comparison of Internal and External Ribs
Sl No. Parameters Internal Rib External Rib
Compressive Stress (N/mm2) -263 -157
1.
Tensile Stress (N/mm2) 213 359
Displacement-Compression (mm) -5.81 -5.92
2.
Displacement-Tension (mm) 6.72 6.85
3. Buckling Factor 1.45 1.86
4. Buckling Factor Percentage 22% higher for external rib
From the above results, we can infer that there is 12% increase for isogrid whereas 22% increase in orthogrid when ribs were
placed externally for this load and configuration.
Static and buckling analysis for beam and shell structures were carried out in MSc Nastran and FEAST with external and
internal ribs for isogrids and orthogrids. Results are shown in Fig 8,9,and 10.

Fig. 8: Comparison of Internal and External Ribs for shell structure

Fig. 9. Comparison of Isogrid and Orthogrid Structure- Shell Structure

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Effect of RIB Orientation in Isogrid Structures: Aerospace Applications
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Fig. 10. Comparison of Internal and External ribs for isogrids

VII. CONCLUSIONS

 Based on the studies carried out on isogrid and orthogrid structures, it was found that stress and displacements were
comparable for both externally and internally placed ribs.
 Based on buckling analysis, there is an increase in buckling load factor of 12% for isogrid and 22% increase in orthogrid
structure when ribs were placed externally.
 Considering the fabrication constraints as well as the aerodynamic aspects, internally placed ribs of isogrid structure is
preferred than externally placed one.
 In the case of civil engineering applications, external ribs are better.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

First and foremost, praises and thanks to the GOD, the Almighty, for his showers of blessings throughout the successful
completion of this paper. The authors acknowledge with gratitude Dr. S.Sivan, Director, VSSC for constant encouragements to
prepare this paper. Dr. S. Unnikrishnan Nair, Deputy Director- STR Entity, is acknowledged for the constant support provided in
carrying out all tasks related to this. Sri. S. Sirajudeen Ahamed, Group Director, SDEG is greatly acknowledged for the
encouragements and technical advice. Smt. Rachel SKD, Former Head, Lower Stage Structures Section for her valuable
guidance and support for carrying out this task is greatly acknowledged. The valuable technical comments provided by Sri.B S
Raju, Head, SDE towards the improvements of this paper are gratefully acknowledged. It is our privilege to express sincere
thanks to Sri.VJ Saji, DPD, PSLV Structures for the technical comments for improvements during the review of the paper.

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