Fiber-reinforced composites are widely used in aerospace industry due to their combined properties of high strength and low weight. However, owing to their complex structure, it is difficult to assess the impact of manufacturing defects and service damage on their residual life. While, ultrasonic testing (UT) is the preferred NDE method to identify the presence of defects in composites, there are no reasonable ways to model the damage and evaluate the structural integrity of composites. We have developed an automated framework to incorporate flaws and known composite damage automatically into a finite element analysis (FEA) model of composites, ultimately aiding in accessing the residual life of composites and make informed decisions regarding repairs. The framework can be used to generate a layer-by-layer 3D structural CAD model of the composite laminates replicating their manufacturing process. Outlines of structural defects, such as delaminations, are automatically detected from UT of the laminate and are incorporated into the CAD model between the appropriate layers. In addition, the framework allows for direct structural analysis of the resulting 3D CAD models with defects by automatically applying the appropriate boundary conditions. In this paper, we show a working proof-of-concept for the composite model builder with capabilities of incorporating delaminations between laminate layers and automatically preparing the CAD model for structural analysis using a FEA software.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/robert_grandin/22/