Understanding composite laminate drape for FEA simulation

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Andy Woodward, a specialist in engineering simulation at UK-based Desktop Engineering (DTE), knows that when working with laminated composites, it is important to consider the effect that draping the pre-pregs has on the thickness and orientations that are used in finite element analysis.

In this video he explains the application of the company’s Laminate Modeller, a plug-in tool for MSC Patran that does this fundamental job and more. “One of the side benefits of the draping process is the automatic creation of flat patterns. These give you the shape you need to cut out of a flat fabric in order to achieve the ply boundaries desired on your 3D product,” remarks Woodward.

“To do this in CAD is often expensive: the plug-ins to do it, like Fibersim, can cost large five-figure sums, completely out of the reach of SME companies. Laminate Modeller doesn’t do 100% of the job these tools do, but it does offer 80% of the capability for 20% or less of the price. This video shows you how to use Laminate Modeller to build an accurate finite element analysis (FEA) model in Patran, and also how to generate flat-pattern DXF files, an HTML ply book and tooling surface geometry.”

Further information and an additional presentation covering the definition of composites in MSC Apex can be found here.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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