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Introduction to Composite FE Analysis

NAFEMS Webinar Series

Introduction to Composite Finite Element Analysis Webinar

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Many designs now use composite structures or components, taking advantage of the increased structural strength and stiffness to weight ratios, simpler manufacturing process or more innovative design capability that composites bring. The nature of the composite used can range from cheap and freely available glass fiber reinforced systems to exotic and specifically tailored carbon, Kevlar or even metal/matrix systems, with many forms of manufacturing process available.

The challenge for the designer and analyst is to determine the resulting structural properties of the design such as stiffness, strength or dynamic response. Faced with the complexity of real world structural systems the analyst has to make decisions on the type of idealization and level of detail required in the FEA analysis.

The design variations available with a composite material are immense; ply thickness, orientation and property can all be varied to tune the structural response. A rational approach is needed to predict the strength and stiffness and how to use the FEA data to help design and verify the structure.

Your design may include thick composite sections with large numbers of plies, there may be regions of significant ply drop off. Tee joints may be loaded in tension. In these cases the through thickness effects become very important for strength prediction.

The shape of the structure may imply changes in draping angle or layup thickness and it may be important to model this accurately.

There are a wide range of failure theories available to assess the strength, together with a variety of stress, strain or fracture based approaches. It is important to understand the limitations and best usage of these methods. This requires some understanding of the mechanisms of failure. Large amounts of stress or strain data can be produced from a multi ply layup. Again it is important to have a logical process to deal with the results efficiently and effectively.

The webinar looks at some of the challenges facing an engineer when setting out on a composite FEA analysis and is particularly focused on the newcomer to the field who wants to do the job in an effective and efficient way. Practical guidelines, hints and tips are given based on the presenter’s 33 years using composites and FEA in industry, FEA customer support and training.

The webinar is a condensed version of part of an e-learning class on FEA Composite Analysis which is being presented by Tony Abbey in partnership with NAFEMS. It is a follow on from the very successful FEA Dynamics Analysis e-learning class.

This webinar will address:

  • What are composites? Review of different forms and manufacturing processes.
  • How do composites vary from metallic structures? Overview of material properties and the ABD matrix terms. Hints on practical design methods.
  • How do I set up a composite FEA? Overview of typical processes. Keeping track of plies, mold lines.
  • How good is my FEA idealization? The importance of fiber orientation, draping and thickness effects.
  • How do I know whether the composite has failed? Basic First Ply failure theories
  • How do I organize my results, where do I start looking? Failure indices, Strength ratios.
  • Through thickness and edge effects such as delamination; usage of solid and thick shell elements.
  • Advanced failure theories; progressive ply failure, cohesive elements, fracture mechanics methods (VCCT)



Welcome & Introduction
Matthew Ladzinski, NAFEMS North America


Introduction to Composite FE Analysis
Tony Abbey, FETraining


Q & A Session

Related News:

NAFEMS offers a 4-week Composite FE Analysis e-Learning course. For more information, or to sign-up, please click here

Webinar Presenter

Tony Abbey has created and taught a wide range of FEA based training classes over the past 15 years. He has developed a reputation for providing the student with an experience that is full of insight gained from his extensive experience, but which also challenges and motivates. Tony has been working with FEA for over 30 years, both in Industry and for FEA software providers in the UK and the US. He currently runs his own FEA consultancy company,

His informal and interactive presentation style allows the key concepts to be taught in a manner which involves participants fully in the course material. Tony presents papers at NAFEMS and other conferences on a regular basis and has been involved with NAFEMS since its formation.