Composite Finite Element Analysis

Composite FEA

  • Time to take a closer look at Composites FEA?

  • Need a clear path through analysis setup and interpretation?

This industry-leading, code-independent course gives you the background for effective FEA.

This course covers a range of topics, all aimed at structural designers and engineers.

Composite systems include many more factors than conventional metallic structures.

The 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.

Moving to composite structures will allow you to explore: 

  • increased structural strength and stiffness to weight ratios
  • simpler manufacturing processes
  • more innovative design capabilities 

Composite materials span: 

  • cheap and freely available glass fiber reinforced systems
  • exotic and tailored carbon, boron or Kevlar systems
  • many other fiber and matrix systems

The challenge for the designer and analyst is to make decisions on the type of idealization and level of detail required in the Finite Element Analysis.  Your design may include: 

  • thick composite sections with large numbers of plies
  • regions of significant ply drop off
  • tee joints loaded in tension
  • structural shapes causing changes in draping angle or thickness

Analysis is further complicated by:

  • a wide range of failure theories
  • large amounts of stress and strain data for each ply 

We can help you plan a strategy for dealing with these challenges.

The course is completely code independent.

Free Composite Stiffness and Strength Calculator

All attendees on the course will be able to download a fully functioning Composite Stiffness and Strength Calculator, together with user guide.

  • Carry out the homework tasks
  • Explore composite layup stiffness and strength 
  • Calculate Failure Index and Strength Ratios 
  • Display ABD matrices
  • View full details of calculation ply by ply

Many past attendees have found this tool a useful supplement to post processing available in their usual Finite Element solution. Attendees will be entitled to future upgrades.

Session 1

  • Introduction to composite systems
  • Strength and Stiffness of plies
  • Comparison with published data or test results
  • Ply angle effect
  • Simulation of single ply using FEA
  • Introduction to Failure Criteria

Session 2

  • 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

Session 3

  • Composite beam case study
  • Practical composite modeling
  • Inner or outer mold line considerations
  • Ply drop off, draping effects

Session 4

  • Sandwich Panels
  • Isotropic Equivalent method
  • Laminate method
  • Solid Element method
  • Sheet and core Stability 
  • Comparison of 2D shell and solid element solutions
  • Bulkhead Sandwich Example
  • Edge Effectso Thin Shell and Solid comparisons
  • Plane Strain

Session 5

  • Advanced failure methods
  • Progressive ply failure methods
  • Cohesive Zone methods
  • Virtual Crack Closure method
  • Micromechanics of Composites


PSE Competencies addressed by this training course 

ID Competence Statement
MASco2 Explain the terms Isotropic, Orthotropic, Anisotropic and Homogeneous.
CMPSkn1 List the various steps in the analysis/simulation process and identify those requiring particular consideration due to the inherent nature of the composite material / structure.
CMPSkn2 Define the meaning of membrane/bending coupling and outline the circumstances in which this can occur.
CMPSkn3 List the various failure criteria available in any system used.
CMPSkn4 Identify the laminated elements available in any system used, highlighting any developer preferences.
CMPSco1 Discuss the sources of approximation inherent in finite element analysis of composite materials and structures.
CMPSco2 Describe the approximate post-processing method used with some elements to obtain inter-ply shear and normal stresses.
CMPSco3 Discuss approximations relating to fibre direction in curved shell models.
CMPSco4 Explain how manufacturing methods can lead to fibre direction and volume fraction variations from the "as-specified" or "ideal".
CMPSco5 Discuss the difficulties that can arise in using symmetry techniques and plane stress/strain assumptions.
CMPSco6 Discuss the various failure mechanisms in composite materials.
CMPSco7 Discuss the difficulties inherent in conducting analyses involving damage progression.
CMPSco9 Outline how element stiffness matrices are evaluated for laminated elements.
CMPSco10 Explain the term free edge effect.
CMPSco13 Explain the terms cross-ply, unidirectional, unsymmetric and balanced.
CMPSco14 Discuss the ABD matrix.
CMPSco15 Explain the terms drape and bias.
CMPSco16 Explain the terms weft and weave.
CMPSco18 Explain the terms gel coat and pre-preg.
CMPSco19 Discuss the general roles of fibre and matrix in a composite.
CMPSco21 Discuss scenarios where a Representative Volume Element modelling approach would be appropriate.
CMPSco22 Discuss some possible analysis consequences of utilising a laminate with an unsymmetrical/anti-symmetric lay-up.
CMPSco24 Contrast the relative significance of transverse shearing effects for composites and isotropic homogeneous materials.
CMPSco25 Explain the term quasi-isotropic and illustrate a laminate specification where this might be a reasonable assumption.
CMPSco26 Explain the purposes of the skins and core in a sandwich construction.
CMPSap1 Complete laminate definitions, using stacking notation, for a range of materials and lay-ups.
CMPSap2 Illustrate the approximate nature of finite element analysis, through examples chosen from your industry sector or branch of engineering.
CMPSap3 Illustrate situations where use of an equivalent orthotropic idealisation may be appropriate.
CMPSap4 Use laminated shells and bricks effectively in small displacement, linear elastic FEA.
CMPSap5 Use sandwich elements effectively in small displacement, linear elastic FEA.
CMPSap6 Use laminated shells and bricks effectively in nonlinear FEA.
CMPSan3 Employ draping software, where applicable.
CMPSan4 Employ Laminate Analysis Software as a complimentary tool where appropriate.
CMPSsy3 Plan a series of simple benchmarks in support of a composite analysis.
CMPSev1 Select appropriate idealisations for typical industry components/structures, which are consistent with the objectives of the analyses.
CMPSev2 Specify appropriate failure criteria for a range of analyses.
MSAkn1 Define Multiscale Analysis.
MSAkn7 Define and list the classical approaches to multi-scale analysis.
MSAco3 EComposite FEAplain continuum theory and why continuum methods cannot be used at the atomistic scale.
MSAco12 Describe the trends in hardware and software and how these will impact on current multi-scale analysis procedures.

Interested in this Course? 

Please complete this form if you are interested in scheduling an on-site training session, or if you would like to be notified of the next public course session.