Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Ling Liu


Ling Liu


Thomas Fronk


Ryan Berke


Composite materials are increasingly used in many industries due to the high strength and low weight properties that they exhibit. Since composites are becoming more popular, they are being used in applications such as aircraft, boats, wind turbine blades, and even sports equipment. Composite behavior is complicated since they are made up of two completely different materials such as strong thin fibers and a relatively weaker resin material that hold the fibers together. It is becoming more important to understand how composites behave in different situations so that equipment designers have reliable material information in order to design safe products that will not harm human life. Fabrication of composite material is not perfect and introduces defects such as the fibers being wavy and the matrix having voids. These defects decrease the strength of composites and if not accounted for in design, could be detrimental. To better understand the effects of these defects in composite materials, experimental tests can be performed to determine the material properties but it costs a lot of money and time. If the material properties of the composite do not match what is desired, different constituent materials are selected to create new composite specimens and the tests must be repeated which costs more time and more money. Computational approaches such as Finite Element Modeling (FEM) are gaining popularity as a way to predict composite behavior without the high cost of fabrication and equipment. Another advantage is the ability to test various materials and various defects by simply changing parameters in the computation. For this thesis, an FEM protocol is developed to model composites made from the material AS4/8552. First, the strength properties are extracted from a model without defects and then, defects such as waviness in the fiber and voids in the matrix are added to the model to see its effect. Knowing the effect of certain defects may help motivate composite fabricators to develop processes that eliminate detrimental defects.