Structural Analysis and Design Optimization of an Air Cooler Support Structure

In the present day structural engineering arena, the call of the day is the optimum use of materials to its fullest capability in terms of strength and life. In this sense, the support structure of any engineering products need to satisfy the optimum use of material, minimizing the displacements and stresses developed. One of the methods to carry out this is through finite element analysis. In the present paper, the support structure of newly designed air cooler was analyzed through finite element method using ANSYS. The objective was to try different material, to obtain minimum weight and displacement values. For this purpose, structural analysis of existing support structure of Air Cooler was carried out for three different types of plastic materials (SEB200, FPT30PPC and FPT20PPC) which was showing some vibration based failure. The different loads acting on the structure due to the pump load and the loads due to the blower fans, self-weight, eccentric loading etc. during operation was considered for the analysis. Of the two prominent load cases, the load case where both pump load and fan motor assembly load acting downward was the worst loading case. The stresses developed in the structure when SEB 200 was used were found to be within the allowable limits for both the load cases. The displacement value obtained through finite element analysis and actual measurements were differing by about 6% only. This validated the existing design and the procedures considered for analysis. Based on these findings the redesign of the structure for reduced weight (thickness) and reduction in displacements was considered. The final design showed a reduction of 44.0 % in the total displacement at the desired locations for the material FPT20PPC and reduction of stress levels by 26 % for the material. Based on the finite element simulation the modified final design was found to be better than the existing design in terms of displacement and stress values, cost of the material used and reduction of the problem of vibration based failure of the support structure.
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