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Abaqus software simulates composites behaviour, including: high-speed impact damage; low-speed barely visible impact damage; debonding/delamination;

on; fracture/failure; crack propagation and growth.

Abaqus simulates, analyses composites for aerospace


Abaqus software includes specialised modelling and analysis capabilities for important and unique behavioral characteristics of composites such as various impact, fracture, and failure modes.
BY DALE BERRY DIRECTOR, TECHNICAL MARKETING SIMULIA, DASSAULT SYSTMES

Because laminated composites have a high strength-to-weight ratio and offer the potential for creating large, integrated structures, more and more aerospace designers are replacing metals with composites. Designers and analysts are working together to prove out and refine product designs that fully utilise the unique advantages of composites for aerospace applications. Verifying part strength and durability using finite-element analysis (FEA) is crucial to this effort. But composite aerostructures from wings and fuselages to other load-bearing parts are seldom simple, nor is analyzing them. Military and commercial specs and regulations require great accuracy in strength prediction. Abaqus has responded to these needs by creating modelling and analysis capabilities specifically for composites.

Tools to fit the tasks


Abaqus software from the SIMULIA brand of Dassault Systmes is a fully featured analysis tool for simulating real-world behaviour. It enables users to model in great detail the loads, impacts, and potential failure modes that composite products undergo. The software is capable of manipulating the large volumes of data that define composite laminates. It can model the behaviour of composites, using linear analyses for fast solutions and performing nonlinear analyses that accurately simulate composite materials under the loads or impacts that most concern part designers. Composite parts on aircraft are subject to unique types of impacts. High-velocity impacts, such as bird strike, can cause immediate and extensive damage to a part. An aircraft designer must make sure that such impacts, while potentially catastrophic, are survivable. With Abaqus, analysts can model the impact as a static load, or they can simulate it as a dynamic event that unfolds step by step, capturing any buckling, contact, damage, or deformation resulting from the impact (figure 1). The software can also simulate the effects of smaller high-speed impacts, such as ice or foreign-object debris, on aircraft parts to assess damage tolerance (figure 2).

Fig. 1: Simulation in Abaqus of a bird striking a metal aircraft part. The grey shading on the left shows the original shapes of the part and of the bird striking it. Areas of deformation on the part are in orange and yellow.

Barely visible impact damage (BVID) is a low-speed impact event that is important to aerospace designers as well. If, for instance, a maintenance technician drops a tool on a wing surface, the visible damage might only be a small chip. Underneath that chip, the impact may generate unseen material failure in the form of fibre breakage or matrix cracking that radiates through the underlying plies and could significantly weaken the part causing early failure. The software enables analysts and designers to simulate both the impact and the effects of the impact on part strength (figure 3). These simulations help analysts to identify areas of the laminate that call for additional reinforcement.

Fig. 2: Simulation of damage in a laminated composite plate after high-speed impact by a steel ball.

Fig. 3: FEA model of a sandwich composite laminate being struck by a small sphere. The red-and-green area indicates barely visible compressive damage to the composite part.

Another important condition to examine is the debonding of the composite laminate. Debonding has a number of causes, from imperfections created during lay-up and curing to loads and impacts on the completed part. Debonding can lead to delamination of plies. When an aircraft part is already in service, inspection, and maintenance crews often use sophisticated methods such as sonic testing instruments to assess debonding and delamination. At the design stage, analysts can use special tools in the software, called cohesive elements that model the behaviour of initially bonded ply interfaces and can be used with interlaminar loads to simulate debonding, deformation and buckling, and delamination. The results of debonding/delamination analyses can form the basis for assessing whether a part will have enough residual strength to perform after it has begun to delaminate. Delamination modelling capabilities are useful for simulating progressive failure from a fracture. Unlike metals, which often exhibit plasticity before failure, the main failure mechanism of a composite part is fracture. Over time, fracture can initiate as a crack in the material. The software can model the separation of bonded surfaces from an initial point of damage and define any resulting crack for further analysis. Of course, not all damage is catastrophic, and a fracture or a delamination that doesnt grow may not significantly affect part performance. A special add-on complements previous fracture and failure tools and models progressive crack growth to

determine how rapid and how serious any damage will be from a given point of fracture. The technique used is Virtual Crack Closure Technique or VCCT. This is a well-known method of analysis that enables engineers to identify the load at which the crack begins to grow, for example, at the point where a stringer bonds to an aircraft skin (figure 4).

Fig. 4: Simulation, using VCCT, of buckling and debonding of composites on an aircraft skin-stringer panel.

VCCT in Abaqus is based on technology developed by Boeing for predicting fracture, crack growth, and failure in laminated composite materials. The software builds VCCT on top of its core analysis capabilities, providing analysts with great flexibility in simulating complex behaviour such as postbuckling delamination.

Fig. 5: Shown is a simulation of a ply lay-up on a launch payload fairing. Abaqus includes tools that define and manage plies (table, left) and ply lay-up (right).

Crack growth simulation with VCCT was once a slow, multistep process in which analysts simulated and extended cracks manually by remodelling and remeshing at each step of crack growth. VCCT automates that process and allows the mechanical response of the loaded structure to determine crack growth.

EDS Technologies in strategic partnership with Dassault Systemes plays a vital role in implementing Dassault Solutions, in India across various industry segments. More information: www.simulia.com