Have you ever experienced your car breaking down due to part failure, with little or no warning? This could be because the part was designed without taking into account how it would be affected by material behavior or manufacturing variability.
Many engineers who work on automobiles, airplanes, rockets, etc. are responsible for designing critical and non-critical parts. However, oftentimes this design process does not include an analysis of the material that the part is made out of or the manufacturing process that is used to produce it. Oftentimes, the engineer will assume ideal and consistent material properties, which is not an accurate representation of most products that are developed using advanced materials.
The most common issue that arises from not connecting part, system, and process during the design phase is the accumulation of residual stresses within the material during the manufacturing process. These stresses are a product of the manufacturing process inducing fiber disorientation, defects, and microcracking in the material.
Other manufacturing defects that can lead to premature part failure include:
- Resin pockets, voids, or fabric wrinkles, leading to non-uniform stresses.
- Fiber misalignment, which heavily impacts material behavior and thus affects part behavior.
- Microcracking and fiber-resin debonding, which occur on a length scale not visible to the human eye and thus are often not caught upon visual inspection.
Identifying Issues Early
Companies that manufacture parts spend thousands of dollars and man hours designing parts to withstand failure. If a part is manufactured containing flaws or not meeting quality standards, the part is simply thrown away, wasting a large amount of material.
Companies that use simulation to identify material performance before a part is manufactured, rather than after, can reduce their product development time, reduce the amount of time and money wasted on products that have obvious flaws, and ultimately get products to market faster.