ISUM (The Idealized Structural Unit Method) was born in 1972 to efficiently and accurately analyze the behavior of large size structures up to and beyond their ultimate strength. In this method a structure is divided into large elements, basically its structural units (members). Geometric and material non-linear behavior inside the element is formulated and expressed at a limited number of nodal points at the element boundaries. In this way a large structure can be modeled using a coarse mesh while still being able to consider the nonlinear behavior until the collapse of the structure.
Several ISUM elements have been formulated and used to analyze the non-linear behavior of large ship structures. In further developments, more elements with more accurate formulations have been developed and more types of structures have been analyzed using this method. The same ISUM concept has been applied to the analysis of welding deformation of large welded structures and to failure analysis of structural and mechanical components subjected to impact loads.
In this paper, the basic ISUM concept is outlined, and several elements are presented. Examples of applications to ships and marine structures are presented demonstrating the effectiveness of the method. Recent developments are also reviewed and future potential is explored.