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Experimental Measurement and Finite Element Modeling of Residual Stresses

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Experimental Measurement and Finite Element Modeling of Residual Stresses in Simple Composite Structures


Process induced residual stresses commonly occur in composite structures composed of dissimilar materials. These residual stresses form due to differences in the composite materials’ coefficients of thermal expansion as well as the shrinkage upon cure exhibited by most thermoset polymer matrix materials. Depending upon the specific geometric details of the composite structure and the materials’ curing parameters, it is possible that these residual stresses can result in interlaminar delamination and fracture within the composite as well as plastic deformation in the structure’s metallic materials. Therefore, the consideration of potential residual stresses is important when designing composite parts and their manufacturing processes.  However, the experimental determination of residual stresses in prototype parts can be prohibitive, both in terms of financial and temporal costs. As an alternative to physical measurement, it is possible for computational tools to be used to quantify potential residual stresses in composite prototype parts. Therefore, the objective of this study is the development of a simplistic method for simulating the residual stresses formed in polymer matrix composite structures. Specifically, a simplified approach accounting for both coefficient of thermal expansion mismatch and polymer shrinkage is implemented within the Sandia National Laboratories’ developed solid mechanics code, SIERRA. This approach is then used to model the manufacturing of two simple, bi-material structures composed of a carbon fiber/epoxy composite and aluminum: a flat rectangular plate and cylinders.  Concurrent with the computational efforts, structures similar to those modeled are fabricated and the residual stresses are quantified through the measurement of deformation. The simulations’ results are compared to the experimentally observed behaviors for model validation, as well as a more complex modeling approach. The results of the comparisons indicate that the proposed finite element modeling approach is capable of accurately simulating the formation of residual stresses in composite structures.


Authors: Alexander A. Hanson, Stacy M. Nelson, Timothy M. Briggs, Brian T. Werner,  Brent L. Volk, Tara Storage


Conference: CAMX 2016 – Anaheim


SKU/Code: TP16-0097


Pages: 17

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