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Innovative Software for Photoelastic Analysis Developed at IIT-Madras

Image credit: Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-Madras) is commercialising four cutting-edge software packages in the field of photoelastic analysis and simulation through an industry partner. The software packages have a wide range of applications, including agricultural uses, prosthetic development and identifying defects in 3D electronics.

Photoelasticity is the phenomenon that describes alterations in the optical characteristics of a material when subjected to mechanical deformation. The technique enables the measurement and visualisation of stresses and strains in structures.

New applications for photoelasticity include areas like biomedical and conventional stress analysis involving complex loading and boundary conditions in aerospace, civil, mechanical, and manufacturing engineering fields as well. With the advancement of digital technology, photoelastic stress analysis has undergone significant changes. However, despite these developments, there had been no comprehensive software platform available for research labs and industries to utilise the technique.

According to a statement, this is the first comprehensive software for an experimentally based photoelastic stress analysis tool. In recent times, professionals in various fields such as medicine, agriculture, and biology have started to use photoelasticity to address a diverse range of issues. With the help of the software, they can accurately analyse recorded images and draw important conclusions from their studies.

  1. Ramesh, the lead researcher of the project, shared that the software tools were the culmination of three decades of research. He explained that there was no software available anywhere in the world that fully exploited the photoelastic technique, which is an experimental approach that is used to validate the solution from numerical approaches. It is not just one problem, but the focus has been to develop a complete package for a technique in all its completeness. It is comparable to developing a finite element package that is used for a numerical solution by solving appropriate differential equations.

Photoelasticity is a versatile technique that can find applications in diverse fields such as dentistry and prosthetics development by reducing stresses in the design of knee and hip replacements. It can also aid in the design of epidural injection needles and improve material processing, for example, in precision glass molding, which is used in cell phone cameras. It is also useful in various mechanical and aerospace applications involving stress analysis.

The availability of these software modules has simplified the process of photoelastic analysis, enabling industries to adopt this technique more widely to solve their day-to-day design issues. It also facilitates the development of new conceptual understandings of modern materials that are heterogeneous, porous, and functionally graded by research and educational institutions.

Ramesh and his team have developed four software packages, which are now licensed to the industry. These include three processing software packages for photoelastic analysis based on digital photoelastic techniques that were developed over the last three decades for other researchers to use. Additionally, a simulation module has also been made available.

The Office of Industrial Consultancy and Sponsored Research (ICSR) at IIT-Madras coordinates industry collaborations of the Institute faculty and researchers. IIT-Madras generated over IN 10 billion (US$ 121 million) in funding and revenue in a financial year for the first time in its history during 2021-22. This sum includes funds from projects sanctioned by the state and central governments and funds from industry consultancy.

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