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Childsplay! Modelling of composite structures via the NCN

Connect, no. 159, March/April 2009, p.1


Rotherham based moulder Ultra GRP is an established company catering for the leisure and playground facilities sector. The relative weakness of sterling against the euro has presented Ultra with an opportunity to exploit the market in the euro-zone. Development of this new market for a slide for children required accreditation of the product to comply with current EU standards. Ultra contacted the National Composites Network (NCN), which is managed by TWI, to find out how this could be achieved.

After reviewing the product, NCN recommended that the most cost-effective way to review the design would be to model the structure using finite element analysis (FEA). This review was carried out as an NCN Feasibility Study by the Numerical Modelling and Optimisation Section at TWI. The work programme comprised:

  • A review of the relevant standards to identify the requirements.
  • Finding and reviewing materials property data to be used for the modelling
  • Setting up a computer model of the slide, based on drawings supplied by Ultra
  • Using FEA software to apply various different types of load to the slide, as specified by the standards
  • Highlighting parts of the structure where the model predicted, for example, relatively large deflections

Without the need for costly full-scale tests, this programme of work showed that the design of the slide satisfies the relevant EU standards. Ultra can have confidence, and can demonstrate to the relevant regulatory bodies, that its product is suitable for the new market.

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