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Reinforcing Strategies

You can reduce your material use and create lighter weight designs by intelligently reinforcing your designs. Some reinforcing strategies for lightweighting include:

  • Hollow parts and thin walls – Often hollow tubes and thin-walled parts can provide all of the strength your design needs. To remove material in the right place, you’ll need to understand the forces at work. A surprising example of a hollow part is an I-beam, which is effectively a part hollowed from the outside that is optimized to resist bending and shear loads.
  • Spot reinforcement – You’ll need extra reinforcement where forces concentrate on your design. To reinforce well but not over-build your design, you’ll need to understand how tension, compression, torsion, shear, and bending forces act in these places.
  • Posts and Ribs – You can strategically place posts and ribs to reduce the unsupported length of your designs to allow for thinner walls or beams.
  • Trusses and Gussets – Trusses use a triangular arrangement of beams that bear external forces as either tension or compression. This allows designs from bridges to bike frames to bear loads elegantly and efficiently. Gussets are triangles that specifically reinforce corners. 

Simulation for Reinforcing Strategies

Using Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software, you can test your designs against your strength and stiffness requirements as you reduce material use. Autodesk Inventor and Autodesk Simulation have FEA capabilities that you can use to analyze your designs. If you’re a student or educator, you can download both for free in the Autodesk Education Community Download Center.