Dimensional accuracy control from piece-part fabrication to component welding assembly is essential in modern manufacturing in all major industries in order to ensure production throughput, product quality, and final structural integrity. Modern lightweight designs often pose significant new challenges in construction due to either reduced flexural rigidity (e.g. by introducing thinner, higher strength materials; and/or materials with lower Young's modulus such as aluminum and titanium alloys compared to steels), which often leads to extensive local buckling distortions and overall shape variation during construction.

In the shipbuilding industry, the distortion begins with incoming material and internal handling or storage procedures, and is compounded by each subsequent downstream fabrication process. These distorted plates must often be hand-trimmed, then aligned by fitting and rigging aids, and then welded manually due to the variation in joint fit-up. The gaps, fit-up issues, and manual welding tend to lead to over-welding, which exacerbates further distortion in ship structures (Huang et al. 2004, 2005, 2007, 2014).This project aims to address these issues through the development of novel, multi-scale, integrated computational materials engineering (ICME) tools. These ICME-based prediction tools can be used to quantify distortions associated with the build process of complex stiffened panels or other lightweight structures, thereby enabling mitigation of distortion issues through modification of welding processes, material handling, and construction practices.

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