3D virtual modelling and experimentation

The third category of activities does not deal with specific periods of the human past, and could be applied in many different cases. From the very beginning of shipbuilding and seafaring activities, up to the modern day, both shipbuilders and sailors have been concerned with ship and cargo container efficiency.  Ship strength, and then ship cargo capacity and sailing properties are the main parameters of the overall success of the ship design.

In ancient times ship structural solutions were limited by human knowledge and skills, and by the available materials and tools. As a consequence of these limitations, the ability of ship structure to withstand environmental and cargo loading was quite restricted. In addition, navigation skills and tools were not developed, and seafaring might indeed have been a risky activity. Locations of ancient ships’ groundings provide a valuable source of data about ship structural design.

Today, the available software solutions and computational power enable the analysis of ship construction at various level of complexity. Each element of ship structure, as well as cargo containment systems, can be modeled and analyzed by means of numerical methods. The aim of such analyses is evaluation of structural strength, both in intact and damaged conditions. By applying proper material modeling, e.g. wood or ceramics, nonlinear finite element methods can provide a tool for calculations of structural response to the given load, up to the breaking point.

Structural analysis may also give insight into the evolution of structural design. Assuming the hypothesis that ships or ship (or any seafaring) components evolve through time, the analysis of their strength and functionality might provide the proof for such correlation.

Modern visualization tools could recreate the appearance of the ship structure on the basis of very limited data (shipwrecks, paintings etc.). The obtained CAD model might be used to set up a numerical model of equal topology. Material properties have to be estimated or determined, and then used to define a material model, which is an essential starting point for complex structural analysis. The analysis might consider loads not affecting the ship’s integrity, or loads leading to catastrophic consequences, such as collision and grounding of the ship. Even in the case when a significant amount of uncertainty is present, arising from the lack of data for example, the comparative structural analysis of various designs should provide insight into the success of different concepts.

The activities will result in 3D models of maritime transport containers and ships’ hulls. The results will be published in papers in relevant international peer-reviewed scholarly journals.