Research Papers

Automated Finite Element Analysis of Tree Branches

[+] Author and Article Information
Zahra Shahbazi

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Manhattan College,
Riverdale, NY 10463
e-mail: zahra.shahbazi@manhattan.edu

Devon Keane

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Manhattan College,
Riverdale, NY 10463
e-mail: dkeane01@manhattan.edu

Domenick Avanzi

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Manhattan College,
Riverdale, NY 10463
e-mail: davanzi01@manhattan.edu

Lance S. Evans

Biology Department,
Laboratory of Plant Morphogenesis,
Manhattan College,
Riverdale, NY 10463
e-mail: lance.evans@manhattan.edu

Contributed by the Computers and Information Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF COMPUTING AND INFORMATION SCIENCE IN ENGINEERING. Manuscript received August 28, 2016; final manuscript received April 17, 2017; published online June 15, 2017. Editor: Bahram Ravani.

J. Comput. Inf. Sci. Eng 17(4), 041008 (Jun 15, 2017) (9 pages) Paper No: JCISE-16-2062; doi: 10.1115/1.4036556 History: Received August 28, 2016; Revised April 17, 2017

Finite element analysis (FEA) has been one of the successful tools in studying mechanical behavior of biological materials. There are many instances where creating FE models requires extensive time and effort. Such instances include finite element analysis of tree branches with complex geometries and varying mechanical properties. Once a FE model of a tree branch is created, the model is not applicable to another branch, and all the modeling steps must be repeated for each new branch with a different geometry and, in some cases, material. In this paper, we describe a new and novel program “Immediate-TREE” and its associated guided user interface (GUI). This program provides researchers a fast and efficient tool to create finite element analysis of a large variety of tree branches. Immediate-TREE automates the process of creating finite element models with the use of computer-generated Python files. Immediate-TREE uses tree branch data (geometry, mechanical, and material properties) and generates Python files. Files were then run in finite element analysis software (abaqus) to complete the analysis. Immediate-TREE is approximately 240 times faster than creating the same model directly in the FEA software (abaqus). This new process can be used with a large variety of biological applications including analyses of bones, teeth, as well as known biological materials.

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Fig. 1

A rough timeline comparing the two methods discussed for a 70 cm long branch with eight side branches

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Fig. 2

Immediate-TREE program chart

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Fig. 3

The datum code flow chart

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Fig. 4

The wire code flow chart

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Fig. 5

Flow charts for material code and section code

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Fig. 6

The flow chart for section assignment code

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Fig. 7

The flow chart for load and mesh code

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Fig. 8

Immediate-TREE pseudocode

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Fig. 9

The Immediate-TREE GUI contains two buttons which allow the user to create an executable Python script from the Excel file template

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Fig. 10

A screenshot of the Excel template used for the Immediate-TREE GUI

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Fig. 11

Contour stress image of the test branch, case 1

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Fig. 12

Case 2, Ginkgo, displayed with leaves (left) and without leaves (right)

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Fig. 13

Case 3, Japanese Maple, displayed with leaves (top) and without leaves (bottom)

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Fig. 14

Contour stress image of Ginkgo comparing nonautomated FE method (top) and Immediate-TREE method (bottom)

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Fig. 15

Contour stress image of Japanese Maple comparing nonautomated FE method (top) and Immediate-TREE method (bottom)



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