Composite FE Analysis

Composite FE Analysis
e-Learning Course

July 31st - August 28th 2014

Five-week online training course 

11:00 PDT, 14:00 EDT, 19:00 BST, 20:00 CEST 

Access to recorded sessions is made available immediately after the live session

One 2.5 hour session per weekEngineering Board PDH Credits: 12.5 hours*

Revised for 2014 with new material added
Course expanded and developed from four sessions to five

Course Overview

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 or kevlar systems, with many forms of manufacturing process available.

The challenge for the designer and analyst is to determine the resulting stiffness and strength of the design. 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.  

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, together with potentially large amounts of stress or strain data from a multi ply layup. 

Due to the nature of the composite the stress components can include many more terms than a conventional metallic material for example.Whatever the nature of the challenge, this objective of this course is to break down the composite analysis process into clearly defined steps, give an overview of the physics involved and show how to successfully implement practical solutions using Finite Element Analysis.

Free Composite Stiffness and Strength Calculator

All attendees on the course will be able to download a fully functioning Composite Stiffness and Strength Calculator. As well as forming a useful tool for many of the homework tasks set, attendees will be able to explore the implications of composite layup stiffness and strength terms as discussed in the class. A tutorial guide is also available for download. Loading conditions can be applied and both Failure Index and Strength Ratio terms are calculated for all plies. ABD matrices are shown, together with full details of calculation ply by ply. 

Many past attendees have found this tool a useful supplement to post processing available in their usual FE solution process.The Calculator has been steadily developed over the last few years of delivering this course and attendees will be entitled to future upgrades.

Course Process and Details 

In the current climate travel and training budgets are tight. To help you still meet your training needs the following e-learning course has been developed to complement the live class. The e-learning course runs over a four week period with a single two hour session per week.

This course is completely code independent. No software is required.

Each topic in the class is treated as a building block and is presented using an overview of the physics and theory involved. The math is kept simple and the emphasis is on practical examples from real life to illustrate the topic. The mapping to Finite Element analysis techniques is shown with numerous workshops. The tutor will be running analysis interactively and involving the students in the process via Q and A periods during each session, follow up emails and a Course Bulletin Board

Students are shown the various approximation methods and how to judge which are acceptable and appropriate for solving a wide range of practical problems. Practical considerations of loadings, boundary conditions, ply layup and structural details are shown by numerous examples.

Of equal importance is the assessment and interpretation of results. There is potentially a great deal of data produced from the FE analysis, with many plies and stress components to sort through. The failure criterion used may mask the physical interpretation of the structural response. A practical approach is shown to over viewing the results and then assessing key plies and stress components in detail.

Interaction is encouraged throughout the course, with the planning and design of complete FEA projects. Options for composite system modelling, loads and boundary conditions and solution methods are discussed interactively with the students.  The tutor then runs the analyses using this input and the results are investigated. Using this approach, classic errors are shown and corrected in a real world scenario.

The session covers a wide range of application techniques available and shows typical applications and best practices across industry. The objective is to show students how to assess the nature of the composite structure and what tools can be used, together with the scope of the various solutions.

Students are welcome to send in problems from industry and these will be discussed as time permits.

Full notes are provided for the students, together with personal passwords for e-learning backup material, bulletin board access etc.

Students will join the audio portion of the meetings by utilizing the VoIP (i.e. headset connected to the computer via headphone and microphone jacks) or by calling into a standard toll line. If you are interested in additional pricing to call-in using a toll-free line, please send an email to: e-learning @ .

Who Should Attend?

This course is aimed at practising engineers who wish to learn more about how to apply finite element techniques to composite analysis in the most effective manner. Ideally a student should have some experience of FEA analysis. The material that is presented is independent of any particular software package, making it ideally suited to current and potential users of all commercial finite element software systems. This course is a must for all engineers aiming to use FEA as a reliable predictive tool for composite analysis.

E-learning classes are ideal for companies with a group of engineers requiring training. E-learning classes can be provided to suit your needs and timescale. Contact us to discuss your requirements.

Course Program

Note: This is a five-week course. Each session represents one 2-hour session each week. (Note: Sessions may last for 2.5-3 hours, including the Q&A sessions.)  Recordings of each session are made available to course attendees in the event they are unable to participate in one or more of the live meetings, or if they wish to review the material following each session. The times and dates listed for each session are tentative; we try to schedule these sessions at times convenient for the majority of course attendees.

Session 1 - Thursday July 31st 2014

11:00 PDT, 14:00 EDT, 19:00 BST, 20:00 CEST

  • Finite Element Analysis Overview
  • FEA Basic Principals
  • Introduction to composite systems
  • Strength and Stiffness of plies
  • Comparison with published data or test results
  • 2D shell stress strain relationship - Classical Laminate Theory
  • Ply angle effect
  • Simulation of single ply using FEA
  • Sandwich structures and failure modes
  • Workshops

Session 2 - Thursday August 7th 2014

11:00 PDT, 14:00 EDT, 19:00 BST, 20:00 CEST

  • Multi ply layups – evaluation of stiffness
  • A B D matrix terms and their importance in design and analysis
  • Interlaminar shear stresses
  • FEA model simulations of varying layups
  • Symmetric and balanced layups
  • Special types of Layup
  • Failure criteria
  • Handling large amounts of output data
  • Strength assessment
  • Workshops

Session 3 - Thursday August 14th 2014

11:00 PDT, 14:00 EDT, 19:00 BST, 20:00 CEST

  • Practical composite modeling
  • Inner or outer mold line considerations
  • Ply drop off, draping effects
  • Edge effects and stress raisers such as holes
  • Plane stress modeling
  • 3D element background and application
  • Workshops

Session 4 - Thursday August 21st 2014

11:00 PDT, 14:00 EDT, 19:00 BST, 20:00 CEST

  • More 3D situations, delamination effects
  • Comparison of 2D shell and solid element solutions
  • Advanced failure methods
  • Progressive ply failure methods
  • Virtual Crack Closure methods in delamination
  • Workshops

Session 5 - Thursday August 28th 2014

11:00 PDT, 14:00 EDT, 19:00 BST, 20:00 CEST

details will be added in the next few days

*Note: While we will make every attempt to follow the course outline, the schedule may be shifted at some point. However, ample notice will be given prior to the start of the course date with regards to the course schedule.

Special Note(s):

Telephony surcharges may apply for attendees who are located outside of North America, South America and Europe. These surcharges are related to individuals who join the audio portion of the web-meeting by calling in to the provided toll/toll-free teleconferencing lines. We have made a VoIP option available so anyone attending the class can join using a headset (headphones w/ microphone) connected to the computer. There is no associated surcharge to utilize the VoIP option, and is actually encouraged to ensure NAFEMS is able to keep the e-Learning course fees as low as possible. Please send an email to the e-Learning coordinator (e-learning @ ) to determine if these surcharges may apply to your specific case. 

Just as with a live face-to-face training course, each registration only covers one person. If you plan to register a large group (5+), please send an email to e-learning @ in advance for group discounts.  

For more information, please email e-learning @ .

Course Instructor

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.

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.

Why an e-Learning Class?

In the current climate travel and training budgets are tight. To help you still meet your training needs the following e-learning course has been developed to complement the live class. The e-learning course runs over a four week period with a single two hour session per week.

E-learning classes are ideal for companies with a group of engineers requiring training. E-learning classes can be provided to suit your needs and timescale. Contact us to discuss your requirements.

Engineering Board PDH Credits

*It is your individual responsibility to check whether these e-learning courses satisfy the criteria set-out by your state engineering board. NAFEMS does not guarantee that your individual board will accept these courses for PDH credit, but we believe that the courses comply with regulations in most US states (except Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, and New York, where providors are required to be pre-approved).

If you are unable to commit to the course until one or two sessions are completed, that is no problem. You can review sessions prior to your joining by streaming on-line. 


 if you need a late join on any course.