In a time of uncertainty for the Canadian Composites Manufacturing industry, one thing is certain: knowledgeable and experienced engineers will be needed to facilitate regrowth of the industry. To support this, the CKN, in partnership with SAMPE Canada, is hosting a 12-part webinar series on composite materials engineering.

This series is intended for junior to senior engineers that are looking to obtain a solid background in the fundamentals of composites to help make both engineering and business decisions. After completing this series, participants will have the skills to identity suitable applications for composites, select materials and processes, estimate composite mechanical properties, and identify appropriate testing procedures. 

Webinar Videos:

Deconstructing composites processing: Why it seems so complex and how to think about it in a structured way.

Composite materials come in many different forms, shapes, and sizes. While this allows for flexibility in tailoring the design, it also results in many different possibilities for manufacturing, which can seem complicated and daunting. However, despite there being numerous choices for manufacturers, the complexities often associated with composite material processing can be deconvoluted and approached in a structured way.

In this webinar, we will lay out a structured approach to composite material manufacturing; from thinking about how material flows through a factory to breaking out process steps into their material, shape, tooling, and equipment parameters. This method of thinking is central to the framework for the Knowledge in Practice Centre (KPC) – one of the core pillars of CKN.

Parameters for Structural Analysis of Composites

Structural analysis of composites requires material properties such as elastic and strength values. Physical testing, handbook/database values, micromechanics, and classical lamination theory are all sources of these properties; but when are they valid and what are their advantages, disadvantages, hidden challenges and quirks? When you need nine unique values just to define the elastic response of a composite in three dimensions – not to mention failure parameters – the feat of acquiring these values can considerably affect your schedule, cost, and stress levels (pun intended).

In this virtual application + impact mobilization (AIM) event, we provide an overview of these sources of material properties and provide a comparison between them so that you can decide what is most appropriate for your project and how to begin.

Costing Composite Parts

Accurately estimating the cost of manufacturing a composite part is essential to the success of small, medium and large businesses alike; but where should you begin? Many factors such as material and consumable prices, labour cost, purchase and maintenance of equipment and tooling, energy cost, development cost, overhead cost as well as production run numbers and rates can affect the total cost of a part. Many of these factors also involve a certain amount of uncertainty.

In this virtual application + impact mobilization (AIM) event we outline the key aspects of costing composite parts and draw your attention to aspects of costing that perhaps you haven’t considered before.

*Note: Content between 51:46 and 1:04:09 has been re-recorded after the live webinar to clarify aspects of the example

Composite Materials Engineering 12-Part Webinar Series

Session 1: Introduction

The first session is an introduction to what composite materials are. It gives an overview of common applications, and discusses challenges and success stories. The latter half of the session provides an overview of the remainder of webinar series. 

Session 2: Constituent Materials: Fiber

Composites are made up of two separate and distinct materials referred to as constituent materials. In this session we focus on commonly used fiber reinforcement materials such as carbon fiber, glass fiber and aramid (Kevlar) fiber. Examples of typical applications are presented along with information on selecting the right fiber for a specific application.  

Session 3: Constituent Materials: Resin

Composites are made up of two separate and distinct materials referred to as constituent materials. In this session we will focus on commonly used polymer matrix materials such as epoxy, polyester, and PEEK. Both thermoset and thermoplastic materials will be discussed. Examples of typical applications will be presented along with information on selecting the right resin for your application.  

Session 4: Thermal Management and Resin Cure

Thermal management involves heat transfer into and out of the composite material during the curing/forming process. In this session we look at factors affecting heat transfer, how to control them, and how to simulate the thermal management of a process.

Session 5: Manufacturing Processes: Introduction

This session provides an introduction and overview of common manufacturing processes. Examples of when and where these processes are applicable are given with an emphasis on how to select the right process for your application. 

Session 6: Manufacturing Processes: Prepreg Processing

This session provides an introduction and overview of Prepreg materials are composed of fiber and partially cured resin that is combined at a specific, tightly controlled ratio. It is the most common form of material used in aerospace. This session goes into more detail on prepreg materials and the processes used to manufacture parts with them.     

Session 7: Manufacturing Processes: Liquid Composite Moulding

Liquid composite moulding is a family of processes that involve saturating dry fiber reinforcement with a pressure differential in the mould. Common processes include vacuum infusion (vacuum assisted resin transfer moulding (VARTM)), resin transfer moulding (RTM), and light resin transfer moulding (LRTM). This session lays out the fundamental differences in the aforementioned processes, and when and where each process is applicable. We then introduce resin flow theory based on Darcy’s law and a procedure for process design.     

Session 8: Mechanics of Composites Part 1: Lamina Level

In this session we introduce the basics of calculating the mechanical properties of a composite material. We introduce and define a lamina, a single ply of composite material. Then we go into micro-mechanics, which is used to predict basic mechanical properties. With that groundwork set, we introduce Hooke’s law for orthotropic materials and how a lamina reacts to loading from different directions/fiber orientations.    

Session 9: Mechanics of Composites Part 2: Laminate Level

In this session we build on what was introduced at the lamina level in the last session and build it up to a full lamina. We introduce laminated beams and plates, including laminate plate theory and the [ABD] matrix.

Session 10: Failure of Composites

Building on Sessions 8 and 9, this session will go into both the analytical and practical aspects of failure. Stress analysis and failure theories will be introduced. Failure modes will be discussed and demonstrated with micro and macroscopic images of actual failure on a laminate level.

Session 11: Defects

Defects in composite materials are a major concern. They typically occur during processing and often become the limiting factor of a part’s performance. In this session we introduce and classify various types of defects, then go into more detail on common defects such as thermal issues during cure, dimensional control, porosity, and fiber misalignment.

Session 12: Testing

Given the wide variety of constituent materials, processing methods, and configurations, testing composites is critical. This session introduces the common methods of destructive and non-destructive testing and how to navigate through the myriad options.