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Some Tutorial Software For Teaching Composites

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.366.1 - 2.366.9



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R. E. Rowlands

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1668 Some Tutorial Software for Teaching Composites R. E. Rowlands Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison


The amount of "number-crunching" associated with the mechanics of composite materials renders it difficult to assign "what-if", "trial and error" or "design-type" homework or projects without computational assistance. Several tutorial-type software programs have been developed therefore and are demonstrated here. Graphics are used generously, including some animation.


Some of the mechanics ideas studied in composites are extensions or generalizations of those the students learned previously. On the other hand, many of the concepts counter intuitions nurtured in students' minds by prior experiences with isotropic, homogeneous materials. The mechanics of composites also involves appreciable algebra or bookkeeping. Without computational help, including graphics, the copious amount of algebra can inhibit grasping the over-all picture as well as virtually precluding design-type or "what if-type" exercises. Representative situations are that the principal directions of stress and strain typically do not coincide under orthotropy (they do under isotropy), the increased number of prevalently-used strength (failure) theories for composites, and the ability for perforated or notched composites to have stress concentrations in double digits.

We therefore developed several tutorial-type software programs for teaching mechanics of com- posites. Unlike many of the commercial composite programs which emphasize calculations and results, the present programs attempt to stress understanding fundamentals behind the theory and calculations.

Our programs feature topics such as stress and strain at a point, micro-mechanical predictions of ply responses, strength theories, composite pressure vessels, perforated composites, off-axis orthotropic coupons, growing the laminate matrices, composite beams, edge-loading a com- posite, determining whether or not a material is orthotropic, aerodynamically loaded composite wing, cracked composites, random composites and design. This paper discusses and demon- strates several of these programs.

The programs have provisions for using stored or keying-in data - in either English or SI units. A help section usually explains the program and relevant equations. Generous use is made of graphics, including some animation.

Most of the programs were originally prepared using DOS and are now being converted to WINDOWS NT. A few are Macintosh. We are also restructuring some of the software for

Rowlands, R. E. (1997, June), Some Tutorial Software For Teaching Composites Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6789

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