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34th Space Symposium


Booth #:




April 16 – 19, 2018      


Ball Aerospace Exhibit Pavilion |
Colorado Springs, CO

34th Space Symposium

Presentations and Papers

Enhancing Finite Element Analysis with Digital Image Correlation Point Cloud Test Data

by Matt Sanders, PE

April 16, 2018 | 11:05 AM

With a new shift towards rocket reusability in trying to reduce launch costs, the ability to gain insight into how launch vehicles perform though analysis and testing is more critical than ever. Trying to balance the very dynamic and extreme loads during take-off with the complex and intricate weight reducing vehicle structural designs has challenged engineers with the difficult tasks of how to evaluate new concepts and fatigue life prediction. When you add trying to make these complex structures reusable, it is even more important to understand precisely how loads are distributed through a structure in order to predict success not just on the first launch but the subsequent ones as well. Finite Element Analysis (FEA), fatigue analysis, and full scale testing traditionally have been great tools for doing this; however linking the two can be a challenge. In taking advantage of the new advancements in Digital Image Correlation (DIC), advanced testing methods, and an in-depth FEA knowledge, a better link between analysis and testing can be established. Certain assumptions in FEA and fatigue modeling can now be verified using a point cloud database of real world test data for the actual part being analyzed. This paper highlights some experiences in using Digital Image Correlation and photogrammetry tools to make advancements in this area.