Efficient Workflow for the Design of Thin Composite Structures

Layered composites are used in a variety of applications such as hollow tubes for bikes, panels for airframes, blades for wind turbines or pressure vessels. Engineering layered composites involves complex definitions that include numerous layers, materials, thicknesses and orientations. Without the proper FEA tools to set up a model, you may spend too much time before you actually get any results out of your composites failure analysis.


View video of the design of a vertical wind turbine

ANSYS provides a complete simulation workflow for the design of composite structures. This process is very similar to the manufacturing process:

  • Definition of base materials, fabrics and predefined stackups [layups]
  • Intuitive definition of material orientation based on geometric attributes
  • Global and local ply definition as when fabrics are laid onto a mold


Orientation of composite materials can be defined using geometric entities such as edges

The composites layup can be reviewed in many ways through local cut plane views, thickness plots and local review of material properties.

Once the model has been setup, loads and boundary conditions are defined on the geometry and composite failure solutions can be computed. Then specific tools are available to analyze the potential failure of the product being designed:


Local ply definition and polar properties

  • Global factors to quickly identify critical regions
  • Local identification of the failed layer based on state-of-the-art failure criteria

Finally, the impact of design changes such as geometric variations can be easily investigated to understand the sensitivity of a design to such variations.


Global failure indicators and local criteria report for failing plies