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Instituto Tecnolgico de Aeronutica

Analysis and design of


composite structures

Class notes

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1. Introduction

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Definition: composite means that different materials are


combined to form a third material whose properties
are superior to those of the individual constituents if
considered alone. The individual constituents can
often be identified by naked eye.

Properties that may be improved: strength, stiffness,


weight, fatigue life, thermal insulation, thermal
conductivity, acoustical insulation, corrosion
resistance, wear resistance, attractiveness

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Different materials may be combined in a microscopic


scale such as metal alloys but the resulting material
is essentially macroscopically homogeneous.
If well designed composites usually exhibit the best
qualities of their constituents
Not all properties are improved at the same time. Some
are even contradictory: thermal insulation vs.
thermal conductivity. The application will drive the
most important properties.

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1.1. Classification

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Commonly accepted types of composite materials


Fibrous composite materials
Laminated composite materials
Particulate composite materials
Combinations of the above

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Fibrous composite materials

Long fibers are inherently much stiffer and stronger


than the same material in bulk form.
Geometry plays a decisive role: long fibers bulk
material. In fibers the structure is more perfect and
crystals are aligned along the fiber axis. There are
fewer internal defects.
Example: ordinary plate glass is much weaker than
glass fibers. In fibers the crystals are aligned along
the fiber axis. Moreover there are fewer internal
defects in fibers than in bulk material.
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Fibrous composite materials: properties of fibers


High length/diameter ratio
Near crystal size diameter
Fiber or wire Density Tensile S/ (105) Tensile E/
(kg/m3) strength (GPa) stiffness (GPa) (102)
Aluminum 2630 0.62 24 73 2.8

Titanium 4610 1.9 41 115 2.5

Steel 7660 4.1 54 207 2.7

E-glass 2500 3.4 136 72 2.9

S-glass 2440 4.8 197 86 3.5

Carbon 1380 1.7 123 190 14

Beryllium 1820 1.7 93 300 16

Boron 2520 3.4 137 400 16

Graphite 1380 1.7 123 250 18

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Fibrous composite materials

Direct comparison is not fair since fibers must be


surrounded by matrix
Graphite and carbon fibers are commonly used today.
Heat treatments at 1700oC and higher. More
temperature means higher modulus but lower
strength.
Whiskers have even more perfect structure than fibers

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Fibrous composite materials: properties of whiskers


Shorter than fibers but same near crystal size diameter
Imperfections in crystalline structure
Whisker Density Theoretical Experimental SE/ (105) Tensile stiffness E/ (102)
(kg/m3) strength (GPa) strength (GPa) (GPa)
Copper 8740 12 3.0 34 124 1.4

Nickel 8790 21 3.9 4 215 2.5

Iron 7680 20 13 1701 200 2.6

B4C 2470 45 6.7 270 450 18

SiC 3120 83 11 350 840 27

Al2O3 3880 41 19 490 410 11

C 1630 98 21 1300 980 60

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Fibrous composite materials: properties of matrices

Fibers and whiskers cannot be used without matrix


Matrix gives support and protection for fibers
Matrix transfers stresses
Matrix may be polymers, metals, ceramics or carbon.
The cost escalates.
Polymeric matrices may be linear, branched or cross-
linked (rubbers, thermoplastics and thermosets).
Thermoplastics can be reheated. Thermosets cannot.

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Fibrous composite materials: properties of matrices


Matrices bond fibers and whiskers
Lower density, stiffness and strength
Fibers + matrix stiffness and strength density

branched cross-linked
linear Thermoplastics: Thermosets:
nylon, polyethylene epoxies, phenolics
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Fibrous composite materials: properties of matrices

Metals matrices flow around in-plane fibers:


aluminum, titanium, nickel-chromium alloys
Ceramic matrices cast around in-plane fibers
Carbon matrix vapor deposited on in-place fibers
(challenging production)

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Laminated composite materials


Layers of two or more different materials bonded together
Combined best aspects of constituent layers
Examples: bimetals, clad metals, laminated glass,
laminated fibrous composites etc.

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Laminated composite materials: bimetals

Two metal strips Bonded strips

heat up heat up

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Laminated composite materials: clad metals

High-strength aluminum alloy covered with corrosion


resistant aluminum alloy
Copper clad aluminum wire is lightweight,
connectable, stays cool and is less expensive
Aluminum is lightweight and cheap. It could be used as
replacement for copper. But aluminum overheats
and is difficult to connect to terminals. Copper is
expensive and heavy, but stays cool and connects
easily.

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Laminated composite materials: laminated glass

Protect one layer of material by another


Glass is brittle and transparent
Polyvinyl butyral is a tough and flexible plastic
Safety glass is a layer of polyvinyl butyral sandwiched
between layers of glass

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1.2. Mechanical
behavior of composite
materials

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Common engineering materials are homogeneous and


isotropic
A homogeneous body has uniform properties
throughout, i.e., they are independent of position
An isotropic body has material properties that are the
same in every direction, i.e., the properties are
independent of orientation
Example: a body with temperature dependent
properties subject to temperature gradient is not
homogeneous but is still isotropic.

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Common engineering materials are homogeneous and


isotropic
A heterogeneous body has nonuniform properties
throughout, i.e., they are dependent on position
An anisotropic body has material properties that are
different in all directions, i.e., the properties depend
on orientation

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Composite materials are inherently heterogeneous and


can be analyzed under two points of view:
Micromechanics: the iteration between constituents is
examined on a microscopic scale to determine their
effects on the properties of the composite material
Macromechanics: the material is presumed
homogeneous and the effects of constituents
materials are detected only on an average sense as
macroscopic properties of the composite material.

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Comparison of mechanical behavior


isotropic anisotropic

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Isotropic materials:
Normal stress causes no shear deformation
Shear stress causes no extension (or contraction)
Only two properties are needed to quantify
deformation: Young modulus and Poisson ratio

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Anisotropic materials:
Normal stress causes shear deformations
Shear stress causes extension (or contraction)
There is coupling between both modes
Conventional tensile specimen cannot be used

B B
A

C W

G
R
T

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1.3. Terminology

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Lamina, ply or layer


Flat (or curved) arrangement of unidirectional fibers
or woven fibers in a matrix.
Fibers carry loads (strong and stiff) and matrix
support and protects fibers and transmit loads

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Lamina, ply or layer


Matrix distributes load in broken fibers or whiskers

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Lamina, ply or layer (stress strain behavior)


Fibers generally linear elastic behavior
Metals approx. elastic perfectly plastic
Aluminum, polymers elastic plastic
Matrix viscoelastic (resinous)

&1
&2
&3

Linear elastic Elastic perfectly plastic Elastic-plastic Viscoelastic

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Laminates
Laminate is a bonded stack of
laminae with various orientations.
Usually bonded together by the same
matrix material.
Purpose: to tailor the directional
dependence of strength and
stiffness to match loadings

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1.4. Potential
advantages

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Qualitative facts
Advanced reinforced fiber composites ultrahigh
strength and stiffness such as boron or graphite
Glass fibers have lower quality compared to carbon
Composites can have the same strength and stiffness as
steel and yet are 70% lighter
As much as 3 stronger than aluminum and weight
only 60%
Composites can be tailored to meet design
requirements and support a variety of load cases
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Strength and stiffness advantages


Strength/density and stiffness/density ratios are
commonly mentioned although they disregard costs
What good will this material do per unit weight?

fiber
strength

lamina 0o
laminate

90o
matrix quasi-isotropic
stiffness
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Specific strength and stiffness


300
S-glass
Kevlar 49
Graphite
250 Boron
Beryllium
High modulus graphite
S/ (specific strength)

Bulk metal
200
quasi-isotropic
unidirectional lamina
fiber
150

100

50
Ti
Beryllium
Al
0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30
E/ (specific stiffness)

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Cost advantages
Various aspects must be considered

Raw material cost


Design cost
initial cost
Fabrication cost
Assembly cost life-cycle cost
Operation cost
Maintenance cost
Salvage cost

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Cost advantages
Operating costs are lower for composites compared to metals
Trade-off: pay more initially and less latter
Carbon and graphite are hard to recycle
Epoxy is thermoset: it cannot be melt and reused
Labor cost is related to part count. Composite structures have
generally fewer parts, reduced fastener counts and bonding
operations

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Material utilization factor


Definition: r = (raw material weight) / (final structure weight)
r = 15 to 25 for metals (machining + milling)
r = 1.2 to 1.3 for composites
Metal remove material from large blocks
Composites lay-up of plies

R. M. Jones. Mechanics of Composite Materials

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Weight advantage
Value of weight savings in structures
Small civil aircraft $55/kg
Helicopter $110/kb
Aircraft engines $440/kg
Fighters $440/kg
Commercial aircraft $880/kg
Satellites $22000/kg
Space shuttle $33000/kg

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