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Integrated Tool for Simulation of Textile Composites


Textile preforming of composites offers the potential of significant cost savings in comparison to prepreg (pre-impregnated) tape layering. To enable engineers to make use of dry fibre textiles, reliable simulation tools and design principles are needed. In contrast to conventional, unidirectional reinforced composites, textile reinforcement results in 3D fibre architectures so that standard analysis procedures, like 2D rules of mixture and laminate theory, are no longer valid. It is also important to consider the manufacturing processes since they have a strong influence on the textile properties.

Project objectives

The technical approach of ITOOL is a simulation along the process line in a virtual manufacturing chain, which incorporates the preform manufacturing, draping and impregnation process followed by the external loading of the finished component.

The scientific objective of ITOOL is to close the gap between missing knowledge and proved advantages of dry fibre textiles by developing an adequate integrated simulation tool for textile preforming technologies including braiding, advanced engineering textiles, weaving and stitching. Reliable simulation tools and design methods provide the enabling prerequisites for an increased use of these materials in aerospace and other industries.

From the technical point of view, a special focus will be on 3D reinforcements by the use of structural stitching to improve mechanical properties of composites in the thickness direction (damage tolerance +80%, fracture toughness +75%, weight specific energy absorption +75%).

By achieving the objectives mentioned above, ITOOL can provide the basis of a standard for the design, analysis and testing of textile preformed composites in Europe.

Description of the work

As there are already stand-alone solutions for several parts of the simulation in use, the approach of ITOOL is mainly the linking and integration of these tools to ensure a fluid interaction and data interchange. This approach will enable a flexible and adaptable solution, which may be extended by the user to include alternative technologies.

The materials used in the project, especially the ones that will be used for a set of validation examples, will be characterised. The relevant data will be stored in a database structure allowing the user to access the properties they will need.

The mechanical behaviour will be analysed on three different approximation levels called 3M (micro / meso / macro) mechanics:

  • on the microscale, the different constituents are always modelled separately
  • on the mesoscale, fibre and matrix properties are homogenized locally
  • on a macro level, the micro or mesoscale models are homogenised in a coarser way to lower the computational effort.

The processes used in production and handling of textile preforms will be evaluated and appropriate models will be developed to predict their influence on the properties of the preform materials. The draping and infiltration behaviour of textile preforms will be the focus of this subtask.

Static stress and failure models will be developed to predict macroscopic structural deformation, stress and failure of textile-reinforced structures. Global analysis methods, which compute structural behaviour under external loads, will be provided. The developed tools will address static stress, quasi-static failure, crash and dynamic impact computations.

The proof for this integration concept will be performed for different application fields of textile-preformed composites in aerospace: typical stiffened skin sections, integral joining technologies and a braided propeller fan. The evaluation also includes the interface and the related flow of data as a measure of the quality of results in comparison to tests.

In parallel to the development of the integrated simulation tool, the second aspect of the project is to build up physical understanding of the behahiour of textile preformed composites to increase their usage. Therefore, design rules for the use of dry fibre textiles will be extracted and made easily available for the design engineer as a guideline.

Expected results

To fulfil the objectives within a limited time (and cost) scale, the linking and integration of different stand-alone solutions in the tool chain is proposed, thus creating an open flexible interface for fluent data exchange and communication.

The main benefit is to users of textile composites. ITOOL can set up a standard for testing, modelling and simulation, thus responding to market demands. A further impact of the enhanced simulation capabilities will be a reduction of at least 20% in necessary testing effort, as well as a lead-time reduction of more than 15%.