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Foundational Knowledge - A3

From CKN Knowledge in Practice Centre
Welcome to the Foundational Knowledge volume. This volume contains a collection of knowledge-based articles and method documents covering the governing science of composite materials design and manufacturing. The Foundational Knowledge volume exists to complement the content of the other KPC volumes, where going further into the foundational science is outside the scope of those pages.

By clicking the links below, you can access the latest understanding of the process–structure–performance relationships for composite materials. Want to learn more about the Foundational Knowledge volume? Find more explanation at Level II.

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Material Science
Processing Science
How to Measure and Control
Read more

Do you need to know the scientific building blocks of composites? This section of the KPC explains the science behind how composites obtain their properties. This is the very first step in understanding composites and their behavior. Click here to explore the materials science page.

Want to understand what is physically happening to the composite material during the manufacturing process? What does it mean to cure the matrix? How is heat transfered to the matrix for its curing process? This section of the KPC explains the processing science involved while the composite material is being processed. Click here to explore the processing science page.

Want to measure a specific material property or get a sense of your material’s processing window? This section of the KPC provides documents on guiding you to the methods available to measure various material and processing properties. An overview of methods available will be given, along with external links to detailed resources including material testing standards. Click here to explore the foundational method documents page.

How to use this volume[edit | edit source]

Volume Framework[edit | edit source]

The pages in this volume provide KPC users a quick resource to the foundational science background to relevant topics. Users may wish to further explore topics through self-directed learning. Where appropriate, pages include resources for further independent learning.

Volume Features[edit | edit source]

The knowledge pages within this volume are written to present scientific topics at a foundational level. Users may be directed to relevant pages within other volumes of the KPC, e.g. the Systems Knowledge or the Systems Catalogue volumes, to learn specific details relating to composite materials and composites processing.

Throughout the volume content, video links are provided to complement the written content on a specific KPC page. These provided video links include external source videos, and KPC AIM event webinar recordings that cover some of the specific page contents.

Listed below are the topics covered in the volume, and the available knowledge pages and method documents.

Content[edit | edit source]

Material Science[edit | edit source]

This section of the foundational knowledge volume contains topics relating to the materials science of composite materials. The topics covered are foundational towards the process-structure-performance relationship that is observed for composite materials. The page is broken into two main sections: Material structure and Material properties, which are briefly described below and in more detail at the material science page. Click here to explore the material science page.

Material structure[edit | edit source]

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Solid materials are categorized into basic group classifications defined by their chemical makeup and atomic structure [1]. They fall into three basic classifications: metals, ceramics, and polymers. Composite materials are by definition a mix of two or more distinct material classes. This section explores the structures of the matrix, the reinforcement and then the combined effect. Click here to explore the material structure page.

Learn more about material structure:

Material Properties[edit | edit source]

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A material property is an attribute of a material expressed in terms of its measured response to specific imposed stimulus [1]. For example, elastic moduli define a material’s deformation response to imposed forces. Material property definitions are independent of shape and size of the material. When selecting a material, it is a specific set of attributes (material properties) of a material that a designer seeks [2]. This section explores the different properties of each component in a composite and then the combined properties of the composite. Click here to explore the material properties page.

Learn more about material properties:

Processing science[edit | edit source]

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A unique aspect for polymer matrix composites (PMC) is that the material itself is concurrently made during the part manufacturing process. During processing, the matrix material (polymer) and reinforcement (fibre) combine together forming the resulting composite material. For the polymer matrix, changes in physical state take place in order for the part to be set into shape. Click here to explore the processing science page.

Learn more about the processing science:

Method documents[edit | edit source]

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These method document pages aim to provide brief overviews to various industry adopted practices and standardized practices related to how to find material or composite properties that may be needed by the KPC user. Specifically, they provide information on how to measure or analyze parameters that will affect the process system response as well as mechanical testing of the laminate. Click here to explore the foundational method documents page.

Learn more about how to measure and control:


  1. 1.0 1.1 [Ref] Callister, William D. (2003). Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ISBN 0-471-13576-3.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link) CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  2. [Ref] Ashby, M.F. (2011). Materials Selection in Mechanical Design. Elsevier. doi:10.1016/C2009-0-25539-5. ISBN 9781856176637.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link) CS1 maint: date and year (link)

About Help
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Welcome to the CKN Knowledge in Practice Centre (KPC). The KPC is a resource for learning and applying scientific knowledge to the practice of composites manufacturing. As you navigate around the KPC, refer back to the information on this right-hand pane as a resource for understanding the intricacies of composites processing and why the KPC is laid out in the way that it is. The following video explains the KPC approach:

Understanding Composites Processing

The Knowledge in Practice Centre (KPC) is centered around a structured method of thinking about composite material manufacturing. From the top down, the heirarchy consists of:

The way that the material, shape, tooling & consumables and equipment (abbreviated as MSTE) interact with each other during a process step is critical to the outcome of the manufacturing step, and ultimately critical to the quality of the finished part. The interactions between MSTE during a process step can be numerous and complex, but the Knowledge in Practice Centre aims to make you aware of these interactions, understand how one parameter affects another, and understand how to analyze the problem using a systems based approach. Using this approach, the factory can then be developed with a complete understanding and control of all interactions.

The relationship between material, shape, tooling & consumables and equipment during a process step

Interrelationship of Function, Shape, Material & Process

Design for manufacturing is critical to ensuring the producibility of a part. Trouble arises when it is considered too late or not at all in the design process. Conversely, process design (controlling the interactions between shape, material, tooling & consumables and equipment to achieve a desired outcome) must always consider the shape and material of the part. Ashby has developed and popularized the approach linking design (function) to the choice of material and shape, which influence the process selected and vice versa, as shown below:

The relationship between function, material, shape and process

Within the Knowledge in Practice Centre the same methodology is applied but the process is more fully defined by also explicitly calling out the equipment and tooling & consumables. Note that in common usage, a process which consists of many steps can be arbitrarily defined by just one step, e.g. "spray-up". Though convenient, this can be misleading.

The relationship between function, material, shape and process consisting of Equipment and Tooling and consumables


The KPC's Practice and Case Study volumes consist of three types of workflows:

  • Development - Analyzing the interactions between MSTE in the process steps to make decisions on processing parameters and understanding how the process steps and factory cells fit within the factory.
  • Troubleshooting - Guiding you to possible causes of processing issues affecting either cost, rate or quality and directing you to the most appropriate development workflow to improve the process
  • Optimization - An expansion on the development workflows where a larger number of options are considered to achieve the best mixture of cost, rate & quality for your application.