Course Length: 5 days

Pre Requisites:



This course has been developed to provide engineers and technical managers with a broad but comprehensive understanding of composite materials, detailing specific issues related to the use of composites in structures and component design, manufacture, and “in-service” operation. The course covers major aspects of composite materials application, with much emphasis on material behavior (an essential element in the successful use of composite materials).


This course compares various manufacturing processes, outlining the differences that various processes offer in terms of component quality and performance.

Several flat panels are fabricated in class, in order to demonstrate significant fabrication and processing effects.

Specific component design details (such as holes, joints, ply drop-offs, etc.) are discussed and examined from a behavioral point of view. The course is finalized with a review of in-service issues, such as damage and defects, repairability, environmental influences, manufacturing quality requirements, certification standards, and health and safety concerns.

Overall this course allows engineers and technical managers to better understand the issues facing composite design engineers and fabricators as they develop and implement composite materials into new components and structures. This understanding will greatly improve the effective and efficient use of composite materials into their product.

Participants in the course will be provided with a comprehensive set of course notes and other related documents in digital format.


Key Lecture Topics:

  • Introduction to composite capabilities – explains the fundamental behavior and performance issues with composite materials.
  • Design requirements for composites – a detailed discussion of the several design requirements that led to efficient and effective composite components and structures.
  • Structural applications – a review of several topical applications of composite materials and the basic design requirements are presented in this section.
  • Terms and global properties – the fundamental terms used in the composite industry are listed and explained, as is the overall behavior characteristics that are unique to composite materials and structures.
  • Health and safety concerns– aspect of occupational health and safety are discussed, with the need to protect the working and the environment emphasized.
  • Constituent material properties and effects – an in-depth discussion of fiber and resin properties with their individual impact on the composite materials is presented in this section.
  • Composite component manufacture – several methods are available to manufacture (fabricate) composite structures. These will be discussed in depth and consideration to the end product quality and performance will be reviewed.
  • The properties of a single layer (ply) – from the constituent materials the single layer (ply or lamina) behavior and engineering properties are explained without the mathematic rigor, but with sufficient detail to understand the complexity of composite material engineering mechanics.
  • Laminate properties and effects – as a composite structure is built by the lamination process the structural properties are developed simultaneously. These engineering and physical properties are discussed, including the effects on the overall structural performance.
  • Cost estimating – with knowledge of the materials to be used, the process selection for fabrication and output quantity determined the product cost can be estimated from relatively simple assumptions. An example cost estimation exercise is provided.
  • An approach to designing composite components – in the design and development of composite structures and components there are several steps that need to be followed to produce an efficient and effective structure. These steps will be overviewed to consider what the engineer is attempting to achieve.
  • Structural behavior of composite components – the configuration of a laminated composite structure will affect its overall structural performance. The implications and influences of ply orientation, stacking sequence, and symmetry are discussed in this section.
  • Quality Control and quality assurance requirements – method of ensuring quality components are discussed with the impact of what happens if quality processes are neglected.
  • Certification standards – in certain applications a set of certification standards must be achieved. A general overview of certification in composite structures is presented.
  • Composite test methods – there are many testing methods used in composite material property evaluation. Several of the more commonly used test methods will be discussed and some physical testing demonstrated.
  • Introduction to sandwich structures – a review of the performance of sandwich structures is provided with emphasis on the use of composite skins (facings).
  • Issues with structural detail (holes, joints, etc.) – the detailed geometric features of composite structure have a wide and different affect on the structural performance of composite components. Here these effects are reviewed to provide a better understanding of the unique behavior and stress issues for composite structures.
  • Environmental and operational issues – an overview of environmental and operational issues (moisture, temperature, etc) is provided to understand the materials selection requirements early in the development of composite structures and components.
  • Damage and damage tolerance – a review of damaging mechanisms and damage progression in composite structures is discussed with the aim of improving the appropriate application of composite materials and structures in component development.
  • Maintenance and repair – in-service damage, maintenance and repair activities are introduced as an important part of the life-cycle approach to design and development.

Workshop Exercises:

  • Workshop activity will have participants fabricate various flat panels. The exercise includes composite ply layup, vacuum bag preparation, bleed schedule, oven or heater blanket curing, post-fabrication inspection and panel structural performance evaluation.