Composites Engineering MATS347

Composites Engineering is a core module for the BEng/MEng (honours) Mechanical Engineering with Composites (MEC) course.  The UCAS codes are H302 (BEng)/H306 (MEng) and the UoP codes are 3126 (BEng)/4451 (MEng).  The modules MATS 347, MATS 348 and MFRG 311 are the specific components of the Mechanical Engineering with Composites pathway.  More information is available in the BEng (honours) Programme Specification.

This module integrates the learning from the Composites Design and Manufacture ..and.. Quality Management II modules in a
    practical assignment to specify, design, manufacture, test and report on a prototype composite component.

Module Record (PUMR) for MATS 348: assessment is 0% examination and 100% coursework.

The components considered in this module (and the earlier modules MATS320 during 2001-2015 or MATS304 Composite Applications until AY2000/2001) were:

 Academic Year  Components
 1997/1998 mountain bike suspension arm
 1998/1999 bicycle front forks
 1999/2000 yacht winch handle
 2000/2001 skaters trolley
 2001/2002 launching trolley for a dinghy
 2002/2003 man-portable bridge
 2003/2004 in-situ repair of a welded T-joint in an oiltank
 2004/2005 yacht mast spreader
 2005/2006 a crutch for a disabled table-tennis player
 2006/2007 (a) car spoiler, (b) cross bow limb (published in Composites Part B: Engineering)
 2007/2008 legs for a bipedal robot
 2008/2009 kite-surf board
 2009/2010 (a/b) bicycle crank, (c) luge board
 2010/2011 (a) gas turbine blade, (b) ice-axe handle, (c) recreational helmet.
 2011/2012 bridge span of 584 mm with 100 mm square maximum cross-section.
 2012/2013 a torsion rod or a torsion tube
 2013/2014  (a) bicycle sprocket, (b) in-wheel bicycle suspension, (c) coil over-spring (photos below table)
2014/2015 composite car jack for motorsport
2015/2016 wheel bracket for the Project Nevada hand-cycle
2016/2017(a) motor cycle front foot rest, (b) ice axe shaft, (c) BMX brake calliper, (d) arctic tow hook.

2013/14c photographs courtesy of Mathew Brierley


  • Alain Giocosa (Renault Guyancourt) in a Keynote Address (FPCM-8, Douai - France, 13 July 2006) suggested that each 100 kg saved in a passenger car translates to a fuel saving of 4 litres/1000 km.
  • Costas Soutis (University of Sheffield) in Plastics, Rubber and Composites, 2009, 38(9/10), 359-366 states that "1 kg weight reduction saves over 2900L fuel per year" in the context of the Airbus A320.
  • "Each kilogramme cut means a saving of roughly $1m (£603,000) in costs over the lifetime of an aircraft - and the use of [carbon fibre] composites can reduce the weight of an aircraft by up to 20%".  Tim Bowler, Carbon fibre planes: Lighter and stronger by design, BBC News Business, 28 January 2014.

Unlikely but true ...

It is important that all students are aware of the Health and Safety considerations for this module.  You will be required to attend the Health and Safety presentation and to sign to confirm that you have done so before you will be allowed to use the facilities in the ACMC laboratory (Brunel 007). This support material can be accessed online.


Static short-term loads (construction industry)21
Static long-term loads (construction industry)41
Variable/changing loads (construction industry)41
Repeated loads (construction industry)61
Fatigue or load-reversal (construction industry)61
Impact loads repeated (construction industry)101
Composite manufacture by handwork1.52
Composite manufacture by machine controlled spray application1.52
Composite manufacture by hand-held spray application32
Composite chemical pressure vessel with a thermoplastic liner1.22
Composite chemical pressure vessel without a thermoplastic linerup to 22
Composite operating temperature (dependent on HDT)1.0-1.252
Composite post-cure to manufacturers specification1.12
Composite for operation up to 45ºC1.32
Composite for operation over 45ºC1.32


  1. SM Halliwell, Polymer composites in construction, Construction Research Communications Limited by permission of Building Research Establishment Limited, Watford/London, 2000. ISBN 1-86081-429-8.  PU CSH Library.
  2. BS 4994:1987 Design and construction of vessels and tanks in reinforced plastics

Pugh's design specification elements (Pugh, 1991)
LegalPatentsStandards specificationsDocumentation
Market constraintsCompany constraintsCompetitionCustomer
MaintenanceLife in serviceProduct life spanShelf life storage
MaterialsManufacturing facilityProduct costTime scale
ProcessesTestingQualityQuality reliability


  1. S Pugh, Total design: integrated methods for successful product engineering, Addison-Wesley Publishing, Harlow - UK, 1991.  PU CSH Library.

Recommended reading:

  • MF Ashby, Materials Selection in Mechanical Design,Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1992. ISBN 0-08-041907-0.  Fourth edition: ISBN ISBN 978-1-85617-663-7.  PU CSH Library.
  • Daniel C Smoot and A Brent Strong, Product and Process Innovation - a review, Journal of Advanced Materials, April 2006, 38(2), 64-79.
  • A Brent Strong, Composites in Manufacturing - Case Studies, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 1991.  ISBN 0-87263-406-x.  PU CSH Library
  • JFV Vincent, OA Bogatyreva, NR Bogatyrev, A Bowyer and A-K Pahl, Biomimetics: its practice and theory
    Journal of the Royal Society - Interface (online).  Supplementary materials:
    Appendix 1: Altshuller’s 40 Inventive Principles with biological examples
    Appendix 2: Apportioning Altshuller’s conflict features and inventive principles to the PRIZM categories.
    Appendix 3: Examples of functions at various size scales in biology and technology.

Cost comparisons

Environmental assessments

Return to MATS348 home page
Return to MATS347 home page
Created by John Summerscales on 03 January 2006 and updated on 17-Aug-2017 12:16. Terms and conditions. Errors and omissions. Corrections.