The purpose of this research is to investigate the structural efficiency of 8-node IsoTruss structures subject to uniaxial compression using numerical, dimensional, and optimization methods. The structures analyzed herein are based on graphite/epoxy specimens that were designed for light-weight space applications, and are approximately 10 ft. (3 m) long and 0.3 lb. (0.14 kg). The principal failure modes considered are material failure, global buckling, local buckling at the bay level, and longitudinal strut buckling. Studies were performed with the following objectives: to correlate finite element predictions with experimental and analytical methods; to derive analytical expressions to predict bay-level buckling; to characterize interrelations between design parameters and buckling behavior; to develop efficient optimization methods; and, to compare the structural efficiency of outer longitudinal configurations with inner longitudinal configurations. Finite element models were developed in ANSYS, validated with experimental data, and verified with traditional mechanics. Data produced from the finite element models were used to identify trends between non-dimensional Pi variables, derived with Buckingham's Pi Theorem. Analytical expressions were derived to predict bay-level buckling loads, and verified with dimensional analyses. Numerical and dimensional analyses were performed on IsoTruss structures with outer longitudinal members to compare the structural performance with inner longitudinal configurations. Analytical expressions were implemented in optimization studies to determine efficient and robust optimization techniques and optimize the inner and outer longitudinal configurations with respect to mass. Results indicate that the finite element predictions of axial stiffness and global buckling loads correlate with traditional mechanics equations, but overestimate the capacity demonstrated in previously published experimental results. The buckling modes predicted by finite element predictions correlate with traditional mechanics and experimental results, except when the local and global buckling loads coincide. The analytical expressions derived from mechanics to predict local buckling underestimate the constraining influence of the helical members, and therefore underestimate the local buckling capacity. The optimization analysis indicates that, in the specified design space, the structure with outer longitudinal members demonstrates a greater strength-to-weight ratio than the corresponding structure with inner longitudinal members by sustaining the same loading criteria with 10% less mass.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





IsoTruss, finite elements, Buckingham's Pi Theorem, optimization, light-weight composite structures



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Engineering Commons