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Simulation of composite processes

The use of finite element-based models for simulating composite manufacturing processes is an efficent way to evaluate manufacturing concepts without the need for expensive full-scale testing equipment. The aim of the simulations can be, for example, to predict the final shape of the product, mechanical properties or residual stresses.

Polymer composite materials are widely used in several industries today from aerospace, automotive, energy, electronics, marine to high-performance sports products. These components are characterised by low weight and high specific strength together with the possibility of tailoring the material properties to suit the demands of the application. But due to the anisotropic nature of composites, manufacturing of composite structures is not without challenges when dimensional accuracy and structural life predictions are vital. Process simulations are used to optimise the manufacturing process parameters and predict the outcome of the part to minimize the need for expensive prototyping, tooling as well as reducing cycle times.

RISE aims to develop material models and simulation methods to support manufacturing simulation of complex composite parts. In particular, the research is focused on developing material models and methods for predicting residual stresses and deformations that are induced during the manufacture. This occurse for both thermosets and thermoplastic composites. Examples of manufacturing methods that can be simulated are:

  • Forming of prepreg
  • Resin Transfer Molding (RTM)
  • Sheet Molding Compound (SMC)
  • Additiv manufacturing

Material models that takes temperature effects and the degree of cure have been developed internally for use in models for process simulation. Models for predicting flow and mold filling have also been developed and are available for process simulation of the production of short-fiber composites (SMC). The material models have been implemented in several Finite Element (FE) based simulation programs such as ANSYS (APDL and Workbench), Abaqus CAE and LS-Dyna as well as 3D-TIMON which is used specifically for SMC. Training and trial versions of the material models are available on request.

In addition to FE-based simulation models, we develop analytical tools for simulating filament winding processes, curing and viscosity. The analytical models are available in an online web-based platform together with a material database.


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