• CAE Design and Failure Analysis of Automotive Composites
  • Revision:2014 Edition, December 3, 2014
  • Published Date:December 3, 2014
  • Status:Active, Most Current
  • Document Language:English
  • Published By:SAE International (SAE)
  • Page Count:144
  • ANSI Approved:No
  • DoD Adopted:No

  • Introduction

    Composites are extensively used in applications that needoutstanding mechanical properties combined with weight savings.Composite materials possess superior properties because of theirunique microstructure. A composite is a material system thatconsists of two or more separate materials combined in amacroscopic structural unit. Unlike traditional materials (such asmetals, ceramics, and polymers), whose microstructures arerelatively fixed, composites are highly tunable in terms ofmicrostructure and mechanical properties. As a result, compositesare a desirable combination of the best properties of theconstituent phases: they can be strong and lightweight at the sametime. For example, carbon fiber composites can be more than 10times stronger and 80% lighter than steels. With such extraordinaryproperties, composites have become the top choice for producinglightweight vehicles [1-1], [1-2], [1-3], [1-4], [1-5], [1-6],[1-7], [1-8]. The benefits of composites go far beyond weightsavings. Polymer matrix composites have great potential for partintegrations, which will result in lower manufacturing costs andfaster time to market. The composite parts can have much smallertooling costs than do metal ones. Composites also have much bettercorrosion resistance than metals and are more resistant to damage,such as dents and dings, than aluminums. Polymer composites possesssuperior viscoelastic damping and thus provide the vehicles withimproved noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) performance.Composites also have a high level of styling flexibility in termsof deep drawn panel, beyond what can be achieved with metalstampings. Finally, composite materials can possess multifunctional(mechanical, thermal, electrical, and magnetic) properties byintegrating various functional components into the polymermatrices. The so-called multifunctional or smart composites providesignificant benefits to the vehicles when compared with traditionalmaterials, which only have monotonic properties.

    Although the benefits of composites are well recognized, the useof composites in the automotive industry has faced some technicalchallenges. One major technical challenge has been the lack ofknowledge in composites design. Traditionally, the automotivesector has designed structural components by using isotropicmaterials, such as steels, aluminums, and plastics. The basicmaterial properties necessary to the design of a homogeneousstructure are Young's modulus (E), Poisson's ratio (n), and failurestrength (sf). These properties for common materials, such as steeland aluminum, are readily available in materials handbooks andonline resources, making the overall design process of a structuralcomponent composed of an isotropic material relatively simple. Incomparison, the design of structures involving anisotropic,composite materials is more challenging and complicated. Acomposite material is anisotropic in nature; that is, theproperties at a point vary with direction of the reference axes andare associated with the scale. The basic material propertiesnecessary to the design of a composite structure are the averageproperties of an individual lamina. Unlike conventional isotropicmaterials whose properties (E, n) are available in various datasources, the properties of the lamina for a composite system cannotbe readily found. The primary reason is that those properties aredependent upon the fiber volume fractions. Even for the samecomposite system, such as the carbon fiber–epoxy composite, thebasic lamina properties vary dramatically due to the amount offibers used in the system. Therefore, it would be very difficult toestablish a comprehensive composite material property database.

    The other major technical challenge in using composite materialsis the lack of effective design tools,(i.e., the computer-aidedengineering [CAE] tools). Although the automotive sector has beenroutinely using CAE methods for various structural analysis(static, dynamic, durability, noise and vibration, etc.), thepractices have mostly involved isotropic materials. For isotropicmaterials, there are many choices of CAE software, and theprecision and accuracy of the computational models havesignificantly increased over time. However, for anisotropic, fibercomposite materials, few CAE software exists that is capable ofcomposite modeling. There is also a lack of sufficient, rigorousmodels to simulate the sophisticated failure process of compositestructures.

    This book focuses on the latest use of CAE methods in design andfailure analysis of composite materials and structures. It beginswith a brief introduction to the design and failure analysis ofcomposite materials and then presents some recent, innovated CAEdesign examples of composite structures by engineers from major CAEdevelopers and automobile original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)and suppliers.

    CAE Design and Failure Analysis of Automotive Composites

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