Composites can be an attractive alternative to homogeneous (eg metallic) materials in many applications, but they are not a quick and easy way to improve an existing metallic part.
If you treat a composite material as just another alloy you will probably end up with a heavier, more expensive part. And it will probably break too soon.
The decision to use composite materials brings extra complexity to the design process. First you must choose the appropriate type of composite (particulate, short fibre, unidirectional, woven), the constituent materials and the construction of the composite (pre-preg, dry mats…). Once you have done that, you need to tailor the thickness and orientation of the material in each region of the part. You won’t make any cost or weight savings if you overdesign the part. You need to use the material wisely so the component is strong and stiff only in the directions it needs to be. The complexity of this task means that simulation is often a necessary part of the design process.
But how do you simulate composite materials? There is no simple answer – it depends on what results you need. In any case you’ll need to define the elastic behaviour of the material. This can be based on homogenised stiffnesses, layered sections or even multiscale analysis. On top of this you can also add failure envelopes to predict the first failure in a composite, and even damage evolution models.
Over 5 weeks in a 2 hour session each week, the Abaqus for composites online course will show you how to model composite materials. We will start with linear elastic behaviour and gradually add more complexity. By the end of the course you’ll know what options are available to model composites in Abaqus and how to choose the appropriate one for your application.
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