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Testing the strength of our structures using simulations

Read time: 1 min

How do we test the strength and rigidity of the materials used by engineers to build? We could use a sample of the material that we wish to study, and bombard it with projectiles to study how the material reacts to the bombardment. This method, however does not allow us to understand the behaviour of the test material at a microscopic level. Computer simulations on the other hand require us to model the material at a microscopic scale, such that when we simulate a projectile hitting the material, the computer can then simulate how the force from the impact of the projectile propagates through the material. This process of modelling or representing damage of materials is called Damage Mechanics, and has allowed us to make better prediction of the behaviour of certain materials under stress and impact. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur have used a method called Continuum Damage Mechanics to understand how a rigid projectile hitting a steel target affects the target material. The study aims to develop simulations that could help us predict the aftermath of such impacts on different structures, while also validating the model that was developed. Such studies allow us to build structures with better rigidity and less prone to failure due to impacts.