How Delta Scientific Uses Finite Element Analysis To Develop Crash-Certified Systems

How Crash-Rated Barriers From Delta Scientific Provide Security and Peace of Mind | Delta Scientific

Delta Scientific security products receive crash ratings from many different organizations. These include civilian organizations such as ASTM, military organizations such as the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies such as the Department of State. To determine these ratings, these organizations put our products through rigorous testing under real-world conditions.

However, before we produce any prototypes for crash testing, we use Finite Element Analysis to determine the survivability of our new systems using computer simulation. This allows us to identify and correct issues in the design stage to produce better prototypes for testing.

What Is the History of Finite Element Analysis?

The theory behind Finite Element Analysis was first outlined in papers published in the mid-1800s. The mathematical principles that undergird it date back to the 16th century and the mathematician Euler. However, it wasn’t until computers became sufficiently sophisticated in the 1960s that Finite Element Analysis became practical for computer simulation and modeling.

How Does Finite Element Analysis Work?

Finite Element Analysis makes use of a technique called the Finite Element Method. It involves integrating algorithms into computer-aided design and simulation software. The designs are then broken up into millions of small, uniform elements representing the different parts. These are organized into a mesh. The points on the mesh at which data can be collected are called nodal points. For the areas in between the nodal points, interpolation is needed to approximate the effects. This is accomplished with a complex calculation called a partial differential equation.

What Does Finite Element Analysis Measure?

Finite Element Analysis can test many different variables, such as motion, fatigue, and mechanical stress. In the context of testing Delta Scientific barricades and security systems, it helps us calculate the speed at which a 15,000-pound truck could strike a barricade without the defense system giving way. Based on this information, we can determine crash ratings for our products according to the K-rating system developed by the Department of Defense or the M-rating system developed by ASTM. The best crash ratings are M50 and K12, which are barriers that can withstand a crash by a 15,000-pound truck traveling 50 miles per hour.

Finite Element Analysis can also help us to calculate penetration, which is the extent to which the body of the vehicle extends past the barrier after coming to a stop. The best barricades allow little to no penetration.

What Are the Benefits of Finite Element Analysis?

Finite Element Analysis allows us to optimize components of our systems during the design phase. It allows us to work out potential flaws in our products before we start building them so that we can have confidence in their effectiveness from the beginning. Because of finite element analysis, we do not have to build as many physical prototypes for testing purposes. This saves us time and money, and we can then pass those savings on to our customers.

Finite Element Analysis also provides unique insights into our products that crash testing alone cannot give. For example, the Department of State crash tested our surface-mounted DSC1200 barricade and found it to be effective at stopping a 15,000-pound truck traveling 30 miles per hour, earning a K4 certification. Using Finite Element Analysis, we found that the barricade is effective at stopping the same vehicle at 40 miles per hour. As a result, we rank the product a K8.