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Fibre reinforced polymer composites, i.e. plastics reinforced with thin fibres, are used in products requiring high stiffness and strength in combination with low weight.
Our work is focused on fibre reinforced polymer composites (fibre reinforced plastics), often called "fibre composites" or simply "composites".
Stiffness and strength in combination with low weight makes composites attractive, e.g. in aircraft, racing vehicles, boats, wind turbines, sports equipment, protective equipment and sandwich structures. Lightweight design can reduce the weight and thereby the fuel conusmption of vehicles with combustion engines and increase the range of electrical vehicles. Other advantages are an increased design freedom and more maintenance free products less prone to corrosion. Future composite materials will increasingly be biobased and be designed for multiple functions, e.g. energy storage, embedded sensors and shape adaption when needed.
Composites differ from metals in several ways: they have very different properties in different directions, the properties are more affected by humidity and temperature, and are strongly affected by the manufacturing process. Composite products are usually manufactured as "laminates", where plies with fibres in different directions are stacked on top of each other. This gives very good properties in the plane of the laminate, but makes them sensitive to out-of-plane loads, e.g. impact. Composites are also relatively expensive materials and it is therefore important to design correctly and orient the fibres optimally to utilise the advantages of the material.
We are experts in design of composite structures, with a broad competence and long experience of modelling and testing of composites. By this we can contribute to product development, optimisation and choice of materials. The models are used to simulate composites during e.g. impact, crash, fire and fatigue. Through collaboration with colleagues we have a good understanding for how manufacture and environment affect the properties of composites.