Stanford University Performs Ground Breaking New Study on Composite Materials

It has just been announced that Stanford University is working on a ground breaking new study that involves both the testing and analysis of composite materials. Stanford University is working hand in hand with MSC Software Corporation, worldwide leader in multidiscipline software. These organizations have the expertise, experience and technology available to help solve some of the challenges currently being faced.

Goals of the Study

This new study analyzes extremely complex composite materials to help reduce testing programs that are both extensive and expensive. They also hope to optimize the testing configuration’s designs through what they learn in this new study. MSC Software Corporation is the group that announced the study being conducted in a partnership with Stanford University. Since they are the industry leader in simulation solutions that accelerate the innovation of products, they are hoping that they can help to predict the failure characteristics and redefine the structural deformation of composites which will lead to the possibility of further innovations.

Heterogeneous Composite Materials

Composites are heterogeneous materials that are made of clearly different mechanical and physical material properties. Instead of using the traditional modeling of heterogeneous composite materials that is based on a degree of homogenization, this study will recognize the local heterogeneity of composite laminates. This change in modeling will allow for more accurate 2D shells and 3D solid models to be built. MSC’s software has specialized composite analysis capabilities that can help to address the models’ failure characteristics.

Preliminary Study Results

Recently, this study’s methods were applied to novel bi-angle non crimp fabric (NCF) tape. This bi-angle NCF tape is 30% lighter than carbon materials that match it in strength. This new method was used to analyze, pre-process and model the orientation of layers that makes this composite material unique. The preliminary results with this example were very positive and used MSC’s simulation solutions to help to optimize the manufacturing process of this revolutionary lightweight tape. The models can enable researchers to accurately predict how the material will behave outside of the laboratory in different environments.

Importance of this Study

The search for composite materials that are both incredibly strong and extremely lightweight is growing at a startling pace for many different reasons, including the increased demands on auto manufacturer’s to improve vehicles safety and fuel efficiency. The combination of partners involved in this study is believed to have what is needed to make these innovations and new methodologies possible. The increased accuracy in these models will help to better represent the complex materials that are being studied.
The collaboration between MSC Software Corporation and the research team at Stanford University will help provide the physical and geometric models that can represent all of the recent advancements in heterogeneous materials. The models can then be analyzed to more accurately predict how they will behave in real world environments where these products are so needed, including the oilfield industry where we are continually innovating to overcome hostile down-hole environments.

Composite FE Analysis at General Plastics & Composites

General Plastics & Composites utilizes NEiNastran, a close cousin as it were to MSC Nastran, as our finite element analysis software tool for modeling composites as well as metals. Currently, our analysis techniques and methods allow us to determine and input homogenized orthotropic composite properties and compare the impact of design and material changes on reducing stresses or optimizing fiber architectures to improve strengths in the necessary directions. This gives our engineers valuable insight during the design process to get working products to market faster. However, composites in the downhole oil and gas industry are very different from the typical uses of composites. Parts contain thick sections and fine, machined features with tight tolerances. These small features can sometimes violate composite homogenization assumptions by being as small as a ply or layer of reinforcement not allowing the properties of a stack-up of material to be realized. This makes predicting failure of the composite very difficult in such circumstances. The results of this study with Stanford University and MSC Software Corporation may give GP&C greater capability in predicting failure at the constituent material level which will further enhance our abilities to deliver high performing parts in a timely manner.

Stanford University Composite Materials