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Composite Finite Element Analysis

Composite Finite Element Analysis (FEA)


Duration:3 days
Onsite Classroom
Tutor(s):Tony Abbey
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Get to grips with composite systems. Fast.

Composite systems include many more factors than conventional metallic structures. Moving to composite structures will allow you to explore increased structural strength and stiffness to weight ratios , simpler manufacturing processes and more innovative design capabilities.

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.

Composite materials include cheap and freely available glass fiber reinforced systems, exotic and tailored carbon, boron or Kevlar systems, and 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, or structural shapes causing changes in draping angle or thickness

Analysis is further complicated by a wide range of failure theories and large amounts of stress and strain data for each ply

This course helps you plan a strategy for dealing with these challenges.

Course Program

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

  • Homework Review
  • 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

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

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

Who Should Attend?

Engineers and analysts who want to know more about composite FEA and its implementation.


Get in touch to discuss your next steps with our experienced training team. We can work closely with you to understand your specific requirements, cater for your specific industry sector or analysis type, and produce a truly personalised training solution for your organisation.

All NAFEMS training courses are entirely code independent, meaning they are suitable for users of any software package.

Courses are available to both members and non-members of NAFEMS, although member organisations will enjoy a significant discount on all fees.

NAFEMS course tutors enjoy a world-class reputation in the engineering analysis community, and with decades of experience between them, will deliver tangible benefits to you, your analysis team, and your wider organisation.

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PSE Competencies addressed by this training course

IDCompetence Statement
MASco2Explain the terms Isotropic, Orthotropic, Anisotropic and Homogeneous.
CMPSkn1List the various steps in the analysis/simulation process and identify those requiring particular consideration due to the inherent nature of the composite material / structure.
CMPSkn2Define the meaning of membrane/bending coupling and outline the circumstances in which this can occur.
CMPSkn3List the various failure criteria available in any system used.
CMPSkn4Identify the laminated elements available in any system used, highlighting any developer preferences.
CMPSco1Discuss the sources of approximation inherent in finite element analysis of composite materials and structures.
CMPSco2Describe the approximate post-processing method used with some elements to obtain inter-ply shear and normal stresses.
CMPSco3Discuss approximations relating to fibre direction in curved shell models.
CMPSco4Explain how manufacturing methods can lead to fibre direction and volume fraction variations from the "as-specified" or "ideal".
CMPSco5Discuss the difficulties that can arise in using symmetry techniques and plane stress/strain assumptions.
CMPSco6Discuss the various failure mechanisms in composite materials.
CMPSco7Discuss the difficulties inherent in conducting analyses involving damage progression.
CMPSco9Outline how element stiffness matrices are evaluated for laminated elements.
CMPSco10Explain the term free edge effect.
CMPSco13Explain the terms cross-ply, unidirectional, unsymmetric and balanced.
CMPSco14Discuss the ABD matrix.
CMPSco15Explain the terms drape and bias.
CMPSco16Explain the terms weft and weave.
CMPSco18Explain the terms gel coat and pre-preg.
CMPSco19Discuss the general roles of fibre and matrix in a composite.
CMPSco21Discuss scenarios where a Representative Volume Element modelling approach would be appropriate.
CMPSco22Discuss some possible analysis consequences of utilising a laminate with an unsymmetrical/anti-symmetric lay-up.
CMPSco24Contrast the relative significance of transverse shearing effects for composites and isotropic homogeneous materials.
CMPSco25Explain the term quasi-isotropic and illustrate a laminate specification where this might be a reasonable assumption.
CMPSco26Explain the purposes of the skins and core in a sandwich construction.
CMPSap1Complete laminate definitions, using stacking notation, for a range of materials and lay-ups.
CMPSap2Illustrate the approximate nature of finite element analysis, through examples chosen from your industry sector or branch of engineering.
CMPSap3Illustrate situations where use of an equivalent orthotropic idealisation may be appropriate.
CMPSap4Use laminated shells and bricks effectively in small displacement, linear elastic FEA.
CMPSap5Use sandwich elements effectively in small displacement, linear elastic FEA.
CMPSap6Use laminated shells and bricks effectively in nonlinear FEA.
CMPSan3Employ draping software, where applicable.
CMPSan4Employ Laminate Analysis Software as a complimentary tool where appropriate.
CMPSsy3Plan a series of simple benchmarks in support of a composite analysis.
CMPSev1Select appropriate idealisations for typical industry components/structures, which are consistent with the objectives of the analyses.
CMPSev2Specify appropriate failure criteria for a range of analyses.
MSAkn1Define Multiscale Analysis.
MSAkn7Define and list the classical approaches to multi-scale analysis.
MSAco3EComposite FEAplain continuum theory and why continuum methods cannot be used at the atomistic scale.
MSAco12Describe the trends in hardware and software and how these will impact on current multi-scale analysis procedures.