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Understanding Composites Fiber Orientation

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

A composite is a heterogeneous coalescence of two or more unique elements assembled to surmount each material's particular limits and engender a more vigorous overall product. The chemical and physical properties of the material has a direct impact on the terminal result. There is always a solution for increasing strength and stiffness by adding more fibers into the equation but if there are weight and volume limitations this will not be possible.

Orientation is the key element for determining the strength and stiffness of a composite material. By only changing orientation of the material layup it is possible to increase the strength and stiffness as high as titanium and as low as regular fiberglass. The part should be pre engineered depending on the applied loads on the material itself. In this way we can increase efficiency. If there is a strict limitation as weight and strength structural design is a must. Otherwise determining the most efficient part would be not possible by small amounts of trials.

We may tailor fiber-reinforced polymer composites to their specific needs by combining various matrix and reinforcing fibers. The secret to a FRP's success is fiber orientation, which is the fundamental way engineers make injection molded materials stronger.

Depending on the load direction plies are determined. Simply the structural design process, our main aim is mostly to try to direct the load parallel to the ply direction. If there is a side load we can use 90° plies which will be the most efficient. If there is a shear load ±45° plies might be the solution. Matching ply orientation and load direction is the main aspect of composite structural design.

For bidirectional plies, 90° can be an example; it is made of fibers perpendicular to each other. This allows the part to bear the equal amount of loads from each direction.

Adding all to this let's assume that we have non plain complex parts to be analyzed and there are several loads in the equation. It is almost impossible to calculate the required efficient orientation and layup design without any computer aided design program features. There are several programs that give us the ability to use the software to integrate the loads and simulate our end product. By this way we can determine the type and the orientation of the material.

Automated Fiber Orientation Process

The design on computer aided drawings will increase the potential of usage. You can see many new automation solutions applying carbon fiber tapes on molds. Robotic arms are using unidirectional prepreg (Pre-impregnated) tapes and curing with ultraviolet lights. Since the modern robotic arms have accuracy up to 0.02mm, they are way more reliable than humans loading woven cloths on top of each other or cutting prepreg sheets and applying them on to each other. By using computer design simulations, computers can decide the orientation and arm can apply the fiber exactly as computer designed. This way we remove the most common problem of human error in the composite manufacturing process.

You can also check in this example orientation of fibers' effect on material properties. Although almost the same materials are used in the example there are significant differences in the properties. Due to orientation one material was not able to stand as much load as the other. As mentioned before if the load is parallel or close to parallel to the load direction it will have the highest amount of strength capacity.

If you are interested you can also try to calculate manually for longitudinal forces applied by this formula.

How does Corvus Composites Apply These Methods?

As Crovus we imply fiber orientation methods by using computer aided design tools. Our in house structural designer assures that we have the most efficient layup and orientation design. In this way we provide to our customers cost and time effective solutions. Corvus Composites carbon fiber manufacturing solutions are going through all of these processes. If you also require a professional service for carbon fiber and composite manufacturing, you can contact us.

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