The ability to tailor the composition of a material to obtain desired overall properties is a very appealing prospect. Engineers are able to create you own materials to fit your specific need! However, with the advent of these novel materials, engineers are also inventing new ways for those materials to behave and fail. As a result, these engineers will need new ways to predict that behavior, beyond the traditional means used to analyze century-old isotropic materials.
One can at times feel like Leonardo DaVinci, creating a form-fits-function masterpiece - and at other times like Dr. Frankenstein, creating an unpredictable monster. It is a double-edged sword, and a topic that has been discussed and researched for several decades.
Because old-habits die hard, some analysis tools attempt to malleate composites into the well-known realm of isotropic materials. Physical testing and calibration practices output homogenized mixtures (“black aluminum” as they say). However, when doing composite analysis, making simplifying assumptions about a part's microstructure tends to yield proportionally erroneous results. This is because the true causes of compsite non-linearity are not being taken into account!
The non-linear behavior of composites is driven by several competing failure mechanisms, most of which tend to start within a composite's complex microstructure - and coalesce into macro scale phenomena. The mechanisms include:
1. Fiber Breakage
2. Fiber Micro Buckling and Matrix Crushing
3. Transverse Matrix Cracking
4. Debonding at the fiber-matrix interface
MultiMechanics has made pioneering advances within the field of multiscale analysis - offering hope for aspiring DaVincis. These advances allow for extremely high-res microstructural modeling, without the prohibitively large computing overhead.
Next time you think about setting up a physical experiment or adding a costly factor of safety to your part, consider some new approaches to modeling your novel creations.
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