The Engineering Lab's mission is to enable engineers worldwide with the web applications and training necessary to use optimization and machine learning methods to improve the performance of structural and mechanical systems.
Inquiries may be forwarded to christian@ theengineeringlab.com.
The SOL 200 Web App will convert existing SOL 1xx bdf files to SOL 200, the design sensitivity and optimization solution sequence.
The SOL 200 Web App automatically generates, updates and validates the necessary entries. Below are some of the entries supported:
The SOL 200 Web App also features capabilities to perform Machine Learning.
A datasheet with a full list of capabilities is available at this link.
A free trial of the SOL 200 Web App is available at the link below.
1. Minimize Errors – All optimization applications are prone to errors during optimization. An example of such an error is USER FATAL MESSAGE. Such errors are exacerbated if BDF files are hand edited. The SOL 200 Web App takes a unique approach to minimizing errors. With each keystroke, mouse click and configuration, the web app actively validates entries and immediately notifies the user of invalid entries. This instant "Status" feedback enables users to fix issues in real time before performing an optimization.
Watch the validations in action by referring to any tutorial video in the Tutorials Section.When considering a new optimization tool, make sure to ask these questions:
2. View Entries Immediately – With traditional tools, the bulk data entries needed for optimization are hidden and are only visible after export. The SOL 200 Web App displays and updates the bulk data entries as users prepare the optimization.
View entries generated in real time by watching any tutorial video in the Tutorials Section.When considering a new optimization tool, make sure to ask these questions:
3. Use Advanced Capabilities – Many optimization tools are characterized by highly complex interfaces, often making advanced optimization capabilities impractical. The SOL 200 Web App’s interface is streamlined by using the latest web technology. This streamlining makes the most advanced optimization capabilities practical, such as multimodel optimization and machine learning.
Click here to view a datasheet with a full list of the SOL 200 Web App's capabilities.When considering a new optimization tool, make sure to ask these questions:
4. Access Through a Web Browser – Traditional applications require an installation on each desktop and can be time consuming to deploy company wide. The SOL 200 Web App requires only a single installation on either a desktop or server, and any other desktop on the local network may access the web app via a web browser.
Today request a Free Trial of the SOL 200 Web App and begin using your web browser to configure optimizations for Nastran SOL 200. Visit the Free Trial page.When considering a new optimization tool, make sure to ask these questions:
5. Leverage Builtin Training – Some optimization tools require separate training courses to begin performing optimizations. The SOL 200 Web App comes with over 50 tutorials detailing simple to advanced optimization scenarios, including size optimization, global optimization, multimodel optimization, machine learning and more.
A complete set of available tutorials is available in the Tutorials Section.When considering a new optimization tool, make sure to ask these questions:
6. Spend Less – Optimization solutions, which often feature both an optimizer and interface, sometimes cost up to $100,000 USD. The SOL 200 Web App is priced at $350 USD per month. A majority of Nastran users already have licensing to use Nastran’s optimizer. The next step is to select an interface, such as the SOL 200 Web App.
For a Free Trial, Student or Professional version of the web app, visit the Free Trial page.When considering a new optimization tool, make sure to ask these questions:
Over 25 stepbystep tutorials are available regarding fundamentals of optimization and how to properly use the SOL 200 Web App. Click on any of the following links to jump to the section.
Please contact christian@ theengineeringlab.com if you are interested in further Nastran SOL 200 guidance or training.
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Unconstrained Optimization with MSC Nastran SOL 200 Part of Calculus involves finding maximums or minimums of functions. The process of finding maximums or minimums is the essence of optimization. In this video, MSC Nastran Optimization is used to find the optimum point or minimum of a twovariable function, f(y1, y2) = y1^2 + y2^2. 
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Constrained Optimization with MSC Nastran SOL 200 This video demonstrates the use of MSC Nastran Optimization to find the minimum of f(y1, y2) subject to a constraint g(y1, y2). 
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Side Constraints on Design Variables  MSC Nastran Optimization This video demonstrates the use of MSC Nastran Optimization to find the minimum of f(y1, y2) subject to limits on the design variables y1 and y2. 
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Best Compromise Infeasible Design  MSC Nastran Optimization In constrained optimization, an optimum solution may not exist that satisfies all the constraints. This video demonstrates such a scenario and walks through a fix. 
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What is Global Optimization? MSC Nastran SOL 200 / Optimization Tutorial This video discusses the meaning of Global Optimization and walks you through the process of setting up a Global Optimization with MSC Nastran SOL 200. 
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What is size optimization? What is shape, topology, topography and topometry optimization? In this short video, the following MSC Nastran optimization types are described.

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Structural Optimization of a 3 Bar Truss  MSC Nastran Optimization A truss structure is optimized with MSC Nastran. The design variables are the crosssectional areas of the rod elements. The objective is to minimize the weight of the structure while ensuring the stress and displacements are within specified constraints. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Sensitivity Analysis of a 3 Bar Truss  MSC Nastran Optimization A structural optimization was previously performed on a 3 bar truss. In this tutorial, the process to perform a sensitivity analysis is detailed. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Automated Structural Optimization of a Stiffened Plate with MSC Nastran SOL 200/Design Optimization This example demonstrates the use of MSC Nastran to optimize the thickness of the plate and the thickness of a beam section to minimize weight. Constraints are imposed on the stresses in the shell and beam elements. Additional constraints are imposed on deflections. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Vibration of a Cantilevered Beam (Turner's Problem), MSC Nastran Optimization This example demonstrates the use of MSC Nastran to optimize the rod areas and shell thicknesses such that the structure's weight is minimized and the first natural frequency is above 20 Hz. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Dynamic Response Optimization with MSC Nastran Optimization This example is from the MSC Nastran Design Sensitivity and Optimization User's Guide. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Model Matching, Frequency Response Analysis A frequency response analysis has been performed, but the results do not match experimental results. This tutorial discusses the model matching procedure in order to correlate Finite Element Analysis and test results. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Using MSC Nastran Optimization for Model Matching / System Identification In this example, the cross section of a rod is designed such that the analysis modes match experimentally measured data. MSC Nastran Optimization is used to minimize the root sum of squares for Mode 1. This example is an adaptation of the example found in the UAI/Nastran User's Guide for Version 20.1  252.6.6 System Identification. The following is an excerpt from the guide describing this example. Keep in mind this video is an adaptation and will not match all the values in the following description: Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Automated Optimization of a Composite Laminate with MSC Nastran Optimization (SOL 200) This example details the use of MSC Nastran Design Optimization (SOL 200) to optimize the weight of a tube composed of a composite laminate. The ply thicknesses and orientations are allowed to vary during the optimization process. The orientation angles are limited to 5 degree increments. Constraints on the failure indices are applied. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Optimizing for Buckling  TwentyFive Bar Truss with MSC Nastran Optimization This example is from the MSC Nastran Design Sensitivity and Optimization User's Guide.
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Acoustic Optimization, Beta Method A fluid is enclosed in a structural box and subjected to an acoustic source. The goal is to minimize the peak acoustic pressure while letting the structural thicknesses vary and preventing the weight from significantly changing. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Acoustic Optimization, Nastran BETA Function This tutorial is a repeat of the previous Acoustic Optimization example, but highlights an alternative method to setting up the optimization for Nastran SOL 200. The BETA method is used and reduces the work that was previously required. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Optimization for Multiple Load Cases or SUBCASEs The web app makes simple configuring design constraints for dozens or hundreds of load cases. This tutorial guides you through the process. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Buckling Optimization of a Cantilever Beam This example demonstrates the procedure to configure Nastran SOL 200 for buckling optimization. This example also covers how to optimize for multiple buckling scenarios. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Global Optimization This example demonstrates the procedure of performing a Global Optimization with MSC Nastran SOL 200. Often, optimization problems have multiple local minimums, or maximums, when starting from different initial design variables. To find the global optimum, multiple local optimizations must be performed, then the best of the local optimizations is taken to be global optimum. This process can be performed with the Global Optimization capability available in MSC Nastran SOL 200. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Parameter Study This tutorial details the use of MSC Nastran SOL 200 to perform a "parameter study." What is a parameter study? A common engineering technique is to try different structural configurations, for example, changing structural dimensions, and review the impact on structural responses such as displacements and stresses. Dozens, possibly hundreds of structural configurations would ideally be evaluated. This is termed "parameter study." MSC Nastran SOL 200 includes a capability to automatically generate multiple structural configurations and perform static or dynamic analyses. The outcome are results from multiple structural configurations that can be compared. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Multi Model Optimization Multi Model Optimization (MMO) is the process of optimizing multiple design models concurrently. Design variables across multiple models can be linked and simultaneously optimized. A merged or combined objective can optimize the objective of each design model. The design constraints of each design model are also included in a multi model optimization. This tutorial details the procedure to configure a multi model optimization. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Title and Description  Lecture Notes  PDF Tutorial  YouTube Tutorial  

MSC Nastran Topology Optimization  Minimizing mass with stress and displacement constraints A solid block of material composed of 3D or Hexahedral elements is subjected to two load cases. Topology Optimization is used to minimize the mass of the structure, while satisfying both stress and displacement design constraints. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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MSC Nastran Topology Optimization Manufacturing Constraints A cantilever beam is composed of 3D or Hexahedral elements and a load is applied at the free end. Topology Optimization is used to identify regions of material to remove. This example discusses options to produce a symmetric design and a design that can be manufactured via casting. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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MSC Nastran Topology Optimization Mirror Symmetry Constraints A plate composed of 2D finite elements, is simply supported and has a load applied at the midpoint. Topology Optimization is used to identify material to remove. This example focuses on satisfying weight, stiffness and symmetry targets. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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MSC Nastran Topology Optimization  Multidiscipline  Static Loading and Natural Frequency A simply supported plate is composed of 2D finite elements and a load is applied at the midspan. The MSC Nastran Topology Optimization capability is used to determine which portions of the plate should be kept while satisfying weight, stiffness and first natural frequency constraints. This example also showcases the ability to optimize for multiple analysis types, e.g. static and normal modes analysis. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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MSC Nastran Topometry Optimization of a Cantilever Plate This tutorial is an introduction to Topometry Optimization. A simple cantilever plate is used to demonstrate elementbyelement optimization of thickness. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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MSC Nastran Topometry Optimization of a Composite Panel This tutorial covers the use of Topometry Optimization to determine ply shapes. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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MSC Nastran Topography Optimization  Bead or Stamp Optimization This tutorial covers the use of Topography Optimization to determine optimal bead or stamp patterns. MSC Apex is used afterwards to review the results of the optimization. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Manually Starting MSC Nastran and Uploading Results This tutorial discusses how to manually start MSC Nastran. This tutorial also discusses how to upload result files (.f06, .csv or multiopt.log) to the SOL 200 Web App.  Link  Link 
CSV Export and Import for Design Variables, Responses and Constraints Large design models may have thousands of design variables and constraints. The web app supports the export and import of CSV files. With the aid of Excel, hundreds of entries can be rapidly configured. This tutorial discusses the CSV export and import functionality.  Link  
Responses in Design Model Responses are the outputs following a structural analysis. Some examples include displacements at nodes, stresses in elements, etc. Each design cycle during the optimization process involves a structural analysis and the production of responses. This tutorial discuses the use of the Responses App to carefully inspect responses found in the .f06 file.  Link  
The Design Cycle Process of MSC Nastran SOL 200/Optimization MSC Nastran Optimization or SOL 200 takes multiple design cycles to shift the design variable values, for example dimensions of your structure, until an optimum of your objective is reached. This video walks you through the design cycle process in MSC Nastran Optimization. 
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Summary of Design Cycle History in the .f06 file  MSC Nastran Optimization At the end of an optimization with MSC Nastran, the final summary of the optimization is available at the bottom of the .f06 file. This video discusses how to interpret the final summary. 
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Viewing Optimization results in Excel  MSC Nastran Optimization The results of an MSC Nastran Optimization can be viewed in excel. Information such as the change of objective and design variables can be viewed for each design cycle. This video walks you through the process of viewing optimization results in excel. 
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How to create a new bdf file with optimized properties  MSC Nastran Optimization Once MSC Nastran Optimization has produced optimized design variables, e.g. optimized structural dimensions, the original .bdf/.dat file must be updated with the new property values. This video establishes two methods of updating the original .bdf/.dat file. 
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How to fix 'RUN TERMINATED DUE TO HARD CONVERGENCE TO A BEST COMPROMISE INFEASIBLE DESIGN' MSC Nastran SOL 200 or Design Optimization employs an intelligent method of handling hundreds of design constraints. This video covers the following:

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How to perform a Sensitivity Analysis in MSC Nastran SOL 200 This video details 3 methods of performing a sensitivity analysis with MSC Nastran. The following points are discussed: What is sensitivity analysis? How to perform a sensitivity analysis with MSC Nastran Interpreting the sensitivities 
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How to verify design variables  MSC Nastran Optimization Configuring a design model for MSC Nastran Optimization is a simple process, but care must be taken to ensure the configuration was properly done. This video details how to verify that design variables have been properly configured. 
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How to verify design constraints  MSC Nastran Optimization A simulation of a Finite Element model can produce an overwhelming amount of output such as displacements, stresses, strain, etc. Design constraints are imposed on specific outputs. This video outlines a procedure to ensure the design constraints are applied to the correct responses such as displacements, stresses, strains, etc. 
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Use the HDF5 Explorer to Create Plots Starting with MSC Nastran 2016, results can be outputted to the HDF5 file type. This tutorial introduces the HDF5 Explorer and the following concepts:

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Introduction  MSC Nastran Machine Learning Web App There are many machine learning methods available, such as neural networks, decision trees, genetic algorithms, supervised learning, etc. Watch this presentation to gain an understanding of the machine learning methods implemented in the MSC Nastran Machine Learning web app. The MSC Nastran Machine Learning web app makes use of the following methods:

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Machine Learning, Structural Optimization of a 10 Bar Truss with MSC Nastran SOL 400 Machine learning methods are used to optimize a truss structure. This example features the optimization of nonlinear responses from MSC Nastran SOL 400. MSC Nastran is used to evaluate the FE model. The design variables are the crosssectional areas of the rod elements. The objective is to minimize the weight of the structure while constraining the axial stresses and displacements. Most machine learning examples are lower dimension problems with 1 to 5 parameters. This tutorial demonstrates a higher dimension scenario with 10 parameters. Starting Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Machine Learning, Structural Optimization of a 3 Bar Truss Machine learning methods are used to optimize a truss structure. MSC Nastran is used to evaluate the FE model. The design variables are the crosssectional areas of the rod elements. The objective is to minimize the weight of the structure while constraining the axial stresses. Starting Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Machine Learning, Nonlinear Buckling (PostBuckling) Optimization of a Reinforced Cylinder with MSC Nastran SOL 400 A reinforced cylinder is fixed at the base and a load is applied laterally at its top. Machine learning is performed to determine the optimal thicknesses of the reinforcements to achieve a minimum eigenvalue of 30 while minimizing the weight. This example features the optimization of nonlinear responses from MSC Nastran SOL 400 and involves nonlinear buckling (postbuckling) analysis. Starting Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Parameter Study, Global Optimization with a Latin Hypercube Design Consider the optimization of a generic engine model that represents a V6 engine and automatic transmission as well as other components such as engine mount, transmission mount, crankshaft, drive axles, and flywheel. The Parameter Study web app is used to configure multiple local optimizations, each with different initial values for the variables, and MSC Nastran is used to perform each optimization. Frequency response plots are created afterward. The process of performing multiple local optimizations, then taking the best, or optimal, design is known as Global Optimization. Starting Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Parameter Study, Varying the Location of Concentrated Masses A frequency response analysis is performed on a bracket. The goal in this tutorial is to vary the position of 5 concentrated masses on the bracket and determine the displacement vs. frequency plots for each different configuration of concentrated masses. In total, six MSC Nastran runs are configured, each with a different configuration of the concentrated masses. Starting Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Parameter Study, Varying the Position of Extra Supports The location of supports on a structural or mechanical system greatly influences its stiffness. This tutorial discusses one method to vary the location of supports and view displacement vs. frequency plots. Starting Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Prediction Analysis, Gaussian Process Regression This tutorial demonstrates the use of Gaussian process regression. 
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Prediction Analysis, Dynamic Impact of a Rigid Sphere on a Woven Fabric Consider a transient analysis of a rigid sphere impacting a woven fabric. The parameters allowed to vary include the friction coefficients. The response of interest are the displacements. This tutorial describes how to configure multiple MSC Nastran runs to generate training data. Gaussian process regression is used to train a surrogate model and make predictions. The prediction performance of the surrogate model is also evaluated. Also discussed are instructions to create displacement vs. time plots. Starting Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Prediction Analysis, Frequency Response Analysis (SOL 111) Consider a frequency response analysis of a ground vehicle. For different configurations of the ground vehicle, there is a desire to rapidly determine the frequency responses, including accelerations and pressures, while keeping the number of Finite Element (FE) solver runs to a minimum. This tutorial describes the procedure to use Gaussian progress regression as a surrogate model for computationally expensive Finite Element (FE) based simulations. This tutorial walks users through the process of acquiring training data, fitting the surrogate model, making predictions and quantifying uncertainty. In addition, the process to screen variables/parameters via Automatic relevance determination (ARD) is discussed. Starting Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Prediction Analysis, Buckling Consider a linear buckling analysis. The parameter allowed to vary is a spring constant. The response of interest is the buckling load factor. This tutorial describes how to configure multiple MSC Nastran runs to generate training data. Gaussian process regression is used to train a surrogate model and make predictions. The prediction performance of the surrogate model is also evaluated. Starting Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Prediction Analysis, PostBuckling Consider a postbuckling analysis. The parameter allowed to vary is a spring constant. The responses of interest include the applied load and displacements. This tutorial is similar to the previous tutorial named Prediction Analysis, Buckling. Like the previous tutorial, this tutorial discusses the use of Gaussian process (GP) regression to train a surrogate model. To expand your experience with GP regression, this tutorial purposely demonstrates a scenario where a poorly fitted model is obtained and what the procedure is to remedy this issue. Also discussed are instructions to create load vs. displacement plots . Starting Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Introduction to the PBMSECT Web App This introductory tutorial details the use of the PBMSECT web app to generate arbitrary beam cross sections. The PBMSECT web app is used to automatically generate and manage the following bulk data entries: PBMSECT, PBRSECT, POINT and SET1. 
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Examples of arbitrary beam cross sections with PBMSECT and PBRSECT This tutorial describes the procedure to generate different types of arbitrary beam cross sections, including open or closed profiles. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Composite Arbitrary Beam Cross Section Composite arbitrary beam cross section (ABCS) may be defined through the use of the PBMSECT and CBEAM3 entries. This tutorial details the use of the PBMSECT web app to construct a composite ABCS and generate the necessary PBMSECT, POINT and SET1 entries. Important considerations, such as ply coordinate systems and validating the FEM of the beam cross section, are discussed. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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Arbitrary Beam Cross Section Optimization MSC Nastran SOL 200 supports varying the width, height and wall thickness of arbitrary beam cross sections (ABCS) defined by the PBRSECT or PBMSECT entries. This tutorial walks you through the process of generating an ABCS via the PBMSECT entry, configuring an optimization for MSC Nastran SOL 200, and reviewing the optimization results. Starting BDF Files: Link Solution BDF Files: Link 
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