[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 16-May-2013
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Contact: Beck Lockwood
beck@campuspr.co.uk
University of Sheffield

3-D modeling technology offers groundbreaking solution for engineers

Software developed at the University of Sheffield has the potential to enable engineers to make 'real world' safety assessments of structures and foundations with unprecedented ease.

Developed in the Department of Civil & Structural Engineering, the software can directly identify three-dimensional collapse mechanisms and provide information about margin of safety, vitally important to engineers.

A method of directly identifying two-dimensional collapse mechanisms was first developed in the Department in 2007, and commercialised through the spinout company LimitState Ltd. This method, for the first time, fully automated the hand calculation techniques that had been relied upon by engineers for decades. Software incorporating this method is now used in dozens of countries worldwide.

Now, in a study published by the Royal Society, the researchers have shown that the same basic approach can be applied to 3D problems, ensuring that real world features can be taken into account.

Professor Matthew Gilbert, who co-authored the study, says: "The software we have developed means that engineers should in future be able to model real world geometries much more easily than before, obviating the need to idealise a complex 3D problem as a much simpler 2D problem. This should lead to more reliable assessment of margin safety and, ultimately, save companies time and money on projects."

Further development work will be needed before the software is made commercially available.

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Notes for Editors:

1. "Application of discontinuity layout optimization to three-dimensional plasticity problems", by Samuel Hawksbee, Colin Smith and Matthew Gilbert, is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

2. The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield - the 2011 Times Higher Education's University of the Year - is one of the largest in the UK. Its seven departments include over 4,000 students and 900 staff and have research-related income worth more than £50M per annum from government, industry and charity sources. The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) confirmed that two thirds of the research carried out was either Internationally Excellent or Internationally Leading.

The Faculty of Engineering has a long tradition of working with industry including Rolls-Royce, Network Rail and Siemens. Its industrial successes are exemplified by the award-winning Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and the new £25 million Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC).

The Faculty of Engineering is set to ensure students continue to benefit from world-class labs and teaching space through the provision of the University's new Engineering Graduate School. This brand new building, which will become the centre of the faculty“s postgraduate research and postgraduate teaching activities, will be sited on the corner of Broad Lane and Newcastle Street. It will form the first stage in a 15 year plan to improve and extend the existing estate in a bid to provide students with the best possible facilities while improving their student experience.

To find out more about the Faculty of Engineering, visit: http://www.shef.ac.uk/faculty/engineering/



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