Certification of Discontinuous Composite Material Forms for Aircraft Structures
Arce, Michael Roger
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New, high performance chopped, discontinuous, or short fiber composites (DFCs), DFCs, such as HexMC and Lytex, made by compression molding of randomly oriented pre-impregnated unidirectional tape, can be formed into complex geometry while retaining mechanical properties suitable for structural use. These DFCs provide the performance benefits of Continuous Fiber Composites (CFCs) in form factors that were previously unavailable. These materials demonstrate some notably different properties from continuous fiber composites, especially with respect to damage tolerance and failure behavior. These behaviors are not very well understood, and fundamental research efforts are ongoing to better characterize the material and to ease certification for future uses. Despite this, these new DFCs show such promise that they are already in service in the aerospace industry, for instance in the Boeing 787. Unfortunately, the relative novelty of these parts means that they needed to be certified by “point design”, an excess of physical testing, rather than by a mix of physical testing and finite element analysis, which would be the case for CFCs or metals. In this study, one particular approach to characterizing both linear-elastic and failure behaviors are considered. The Stochastic Laminate Analogy, which represents a novel approach to modeling DFCs, and its combination with a Ply Discount scheme. Owing to limited available computational resources, only preliminary results are available, but those results are quite promising and warrant further investigation.
- Mechanical engineering