Laminated fiber-reinforced composite materials are being used in more and more engineering applications. These materials have excellent strength-to-weight ratios and the manufacturing processes that create them have been greatly improved since these materials were introduced. The popularity of these materials can be seen below in an image of the various composites used to construct airframes in modern aircraft.
Performing structural simulation on composite structures is crucial in designing components made of these materials, but laminated fiber-reinforced composites are some of the most challenging structures to model with FEA. Factors that complicate the construction of finite element models of composites include:
- Composite construction consisting of stack-ups of thin laminae.
- Each lamina having unidirectional or woven fibers in a matrix.
- The fibers’ directions in each lamina can and normally having different orientations, which are used to tailor the composite’s strength and stiffness to match the loading environment.