The study of U* index theory for load transfer analysis and its application in design evaluation of vehicle components
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Load transfer analysis deals with an important function of engineering structure, which is the ability of structure in transferring imposed loads to the supporting points. Although stress value has proved to be an efficient index for performing the failure analysis, the necessity of defining an index for evaluation of structure stiffness has led to the introduction of the U* index theory. The U* index characterizes the internal stiffness distributions, as an indicator of the load transfer in the structure. Although U* index theory have been proven to be useful in design, it is missing necessary steps toward becoming a mature theory for structural analysis. Firstly, the U* index theory needed to be examined and validated by experimental testing. Therefore, an experimental setup was proposed and tested, and U* index theory was validated through comparison of results. Secondly, a systematic comparison between the conventional stresses analysis and the U* index analysis was lacking. Such comparison was made for structural analyses of a vehicle component. The results, also compared to observations of experimental testing showed that in some cases, application of conventional stress analysis might be limited or less precise. Thirdly, design modification capability is a significant feature of the U* index theory, and it was necessary to demonstrate that real life problems can benefit from this potential. In this study, sample structures representing the components of multiple passengers carrying vehicles were selected and analyzed by U* index theory and design modifications were proposed and implemented on the structure. Lastly, the U* index theory should be applicable to different types of problems, including nonlinear domain. Hence, to remove the limitations of linear analysis that is a part of the original theory, an extension of U* index theory to the nonlinear domain was proposed and tested. In summary, U* index theory provides an understandable explanation of load transfer in the structure and provides a general awareness regarding structural performance. He presented work showed that the existing methods of structural analysis have limitations in certain aspects that can be overcome by combining the perspective of U* index analysis to the existing structural analysis paradigm.