Composite materials: Modeling, Processing, and Characterization

8-11 JUNE 2021

The global composite material and structure market is a multibillion sector with continuous growth, with the aerospace, automotive, construction, marine, and wind energy industries being the big players. The drivers of the expansion are the demand for high-performance and lightweight composites due to stringent regulations towards, e.g., less polluting vehicles or save weight. Emission targets are leading to develop lighter-weight, affordable composite structures and components at higher volumes. Conversely, the reduction of manufacturing costs and the increase in processing efficiency represent some of the next decade’s challenges.

The design of composites cannot use extensions of the methodologies adopted for metals. Such a strategy may lead to oversizing, let alone the risks arising from a wrong design. Composites are more complex material systems than metals due to their multiscale nature. Brittle orthotropic fibers, ductile isotropic matrices, and soft cores coexist.  Such complexity leads to challenging predictive models. E.g., composite structures’ damage and failure mechanism is still far from reliable predictions via virtual models and needs high computational costs, precluding structural engineering calculations. Uncertainties in the models lead to safety factors and tests. Therefore, currently, the full spectrum of composites’ advantages is not exploitable, and costly experimental tests are necessary.

Other challenges may arise during the manufacturing process; in fact, composite parts are commonly subjected to high pressure and temperature cycles during which thermal/curing-induced free-strains are formed. Mismatch of these free strains at various scales, coupled with mechanical properties’ evolution, leads to residual stresses and, consequently, dimensional changes in the cured composite part. The mismatch occurs at the micro-level between constituents (i.e., fiber and matrix), at the meso-level between plies with different orientations, and at the macro-level between the part and the tool via friction and other geometrical constraints. These manufacturing-induced dimensional changes may reduce mechanical performance and pose significant challenges during the assembling of large and complex parts.

Target audience: doctoral students, non-academic professionals, and undergraduate students.

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