Lightweight design has led to an increased use of materials with complex microstructures such as porous metals or ceramics, 3D printed lattice structures or metal-metal laminates. As a consequence, there is an increased need for micromechanics simulations to determine their effective mechanical properties.
Lightweight design favors optimized complex component shapes which can only be produced by 3D printing, casting or injection molding. Their mechanical properties may be sensitive to undesired microstructural features such as porosity which are inherent in these production methods. In the absence of easy rules to quantify this sensitivity, computational micromechanics is called for.
An application of classical FEM simulation to such microscale simulations would require a geometry conformant mesh with a high number of very small cells in order to represent in detail the complex material structure or the individual pores. The efforts for mesh generation and computation may quickly become prohibitive.
Immersed boundary methods help to overcome this meshing problem. The Structural Mechanics Simulation module of VGSTUDIO MAX uses an immersed boundary method implementation for the microscale simulation of stress distributions directly on computed tomography (CT) scans which accurately represent complex material structures and defects.