Continuing Professional Development Course:
   Design with Composite Materials

This 3-day course provides an introduction to the basic principles and tools which the engineer needs to undertake design with composite materials.

The range of alternative materials and their properties is outlined, followed by an appreciation of the peculiar features of laminated, anisotropic structures. Software tools for laminate design and selection are explored. The course also considers test methods and design standards. In response to demand, the course also considers the relationship between design and manufacture, through simple laboratory exercises.

The course has been run at Plymouth for many years. It has received positive feedback from a wide range of participants, including recent graduates new to the industry and more experienced engineers who wish to broaden their knowledge. The course is also of interest to materials suppliers requiring a better appreciation of the practicalities of design and manufacture.

Indicative course content:

Day 1

  • General introduction to composites - material types and applications; matrix characteristics, reinforcement type and form.  Manufacture-design interactions in composite materials.
  • Basic calculations - fibre weight and volume fractions, laminate thickness. Mechanics of reinforcement.  Rules of mixtures for ply properties.  Laminates, anisotropy, coupling effects, balance and symmetry.
  • Composites Design in Practice.
  • Manufacturing aspects - prepregs, vacuum bagging, oven/autoclave cure.

Day 2

  • Testing standards for materials and products.
    Software for laminate and structural calculations (including hands-on session).
  • Strength of composites - failure mechanisms, strength prediction, failure envelopes.
  • Structural elements - design of beams, plates, shells, stiffeners and sandwich structures.
  • Manufacture - Infusion processes and RTM.

Day 3

  • Practical mechanical testing and microscopy.
  • Design case studies.
  • Finite Element Analysis of composites.
  • Closing Discussions


fea.jpg (52338 bytes)

FEA of stress distribution around a bolted joint
(Strand7 software)