Module information on this degree can be found below, separated by year of study.

The module information below applies for the current academic year. The academic year runs from August to July; the 'current year' switches over at the end of July.

Students select optional courses subject to rules specified in the Mechanical Engineering Student Handbook,  for example at most three Design and Business courses. Please note that numbers are limited on some optional courses and selection criteria will apply.

Composite Materials

Module aims

Introduction; what are composites, where they find use now and in the future. Definitions. History and Future; why the market for advanced composite materials is expected to grow by well over an order of magnitude in the coming decade

Materials; what goes into a composite and how are they made? Reinforcement types: Fibres, particles, nanomaterials. Matrix materials; thermosets, thermoplastics, metals, ceramics. Reinforcement architectures: UD, woven, non-crimp fabrics, braided, 3D woven and random.
Micromechanics of FRPs; why do composites behave the way they do? Weight and volume fractions. Analytical models for elastic properties Analytical models for strength
Macromechanics of a ply. Ply numbering and notation conventions. Stress and strain vectors plus transformations review. Dealing with shear stiffness in engineering vs tensor forms. Symmetry, anisotropy and orthotropy. Elastic properties of an orthotropic ply. Hygrothermal strains. Strength of an orthotropic ply
Macromechanics of a laminate. Forces and moments. Strains and curvature. Mechanics of a laminate; constructing the ABD matrix. Effect of layup on coupling bending and twisting. Effective elastic properties of a laminate
Macromechanics; failure criteria. Max strain. Max stress. Tsai-Hill and Tsai-Wu. PPFA and damage based models. WWFE review
Micromechanics of particle filled composites. Eshelby’s method of inclusions. Halpin-Tsai. Hashin-Strihkman. Numerical homogenisation of unit cells  
Toughening mechanisms. Brittle material toughening mechanisms. Toughening through inducing plasticity; Huang-Kinloch model. Plastic zone size; toughening in bulk vs composite materials. Fibre bridging. Initiation vs propagation fracture toughness within laminates.
Curing; Main hardener classes for epoxies. Models for cure kinetics. Determining constants for kinetic models using DSC. Rheology of resin systems vs state of cure
Defects; Effect of porosity. Sources and sinks in liquid vs prepreg processing. Scaling effects; Darcy’s law. Effect of pressure on porosity; critical conditions for bubble growth. Debulk and cure cycle design principles; keeping volatiles in solution
Fibre (mis)alignment; real vs idealised fibre and tow paths in textile based composites. Misalignment at the tow level. Misalignment at the fibre level. Real vs idealised misalignment in models. Effect of random vs regular packing idealisations

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing this module, students will be able to: 1) predict the elastic constants of a ply of a fibre reinforced composite from micromechanics, 2) design a laminate to meet a given force/moment bearing capacity, 3) understand the manufacturing processes of composites and use this knowledge to describe means of mitigating processing defects, such as porosity within parts, 4) understand the role nanostructures paly in functional composites, 5) understand the toughening mechanisms in resins, nano-composites and fibre reinforced composites.

Module syllabus

• Introduction; what are composites, where they find use now and in the future. Definitions. History and Future; why the market for advanced composite materials is expected to grow by well over an order of magnitude in the coming decade
• Materials; what goes into a composite and how are they made? Reinforcement types: Fibres, particles, nanomaterials. Matrix materials; thermosets, thermoplastics, metals, ceramics. Reinforcement architectures: UD, woven, non-crimp fabrics, braided, 3D woven and random.
• Micromechanics of FRPs; why do composites behave the way they do? Weight and volume fractions. Analytical models for elastic properties Analytical models for strength
• Macromechanics of a ply. Ply numbering and notation conventions. Stress and strain vectors plus transformations review. Dealing with shear stiffness in engineering vs tensor forms. Symmetry, anisotropy and orthotropy. Elastic properties of an orthotropic ply. Hygrothermal strains. Strength of an orthtopic ply
• Macromechanics of a laminate. Forces and moments. Strains and curvature. Mechanics of a laminate; constructing the ABD matrix. Effect of layup on coupling bending and twisting. Effective elastic properties of a laminate
• Macromechanics; failure criteria. Max strain. Max stress. Tsai-Hill and Tsai-Wu. PPFA and damage based models. WWFE review
• Micromechanics of particle filled composites. Eshelby’s method of inclusions. Halpin-Tsai. Hashin-Strinkman. Numerical homogenisation of unit cells  
• Toughening mechanisms. Brittle material toughening mechanisms. Toughening through inducing plasticity; Huang-Kinloch model. Plastic zone size; toughening in bulk vs composite materials. Fibre bridging. Initiation vs propagation fracture toughness within laminates.
• Curing; Main hardener classes for epoxies. Models for cure kinetics. Determining constants for kinetic models using DSC. Rheology of resin systems vs state of cure
• Defects; Effect of porosity. Sources and sinks in liquid vs prepreg processing. Scaling effects; Darcy’s law. Effect of pressure on porosity; critical conditions for bubble growth. Debulk and cure cycle design principles; keeping volatiles in solution
• Fibre (mis)alignment; real vs idealised fibre and tow paths in textile based composites. Misalignment at the tow level. Misalignment at the fibre level. Real vs idealised misalignment in models. Effect of random vs regular packing idealisations
Introduction; what are composites, where they find use now and in the future. Definitions. History and Future; why the market for advanced composite materials is expected to grow by well over an order of magnitude in the coming decade
Materials; what goes into a composite and how are they made? Reinforcement types: Fibres, particles, nanomaterials. Matrix materials; thermosets, thermoplastics, metals, ceramics. 
 

Teaching methods

Allocation of study hours
Lectures   20
Group teaching   5
Lab/ practical    
Other scheduled    
Independent study   150
Placement    
Total Hours   175
ECTS ratio   25.00

Assessments

Assessment type Assessment description Weighting Grading Method Pass mark
Examination End of year examination 100% Numeric 40%

Reading list

Core reading

Module leaders

Professor John Dear