Initial research into the theory behind a general-purpose composites-specific computer simulation system was funded by the U.S. Army Vertical Lift Center of Excellence. The technology was further developed with funding from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Yu’s initial systems analyzed narrow categories of structural parts – slender composite structures and composite plates and shells. A third system conducted micromechanical modeling of composites.

In 2012, Yu began to consolidate the three predecessor systems to develop a unified modeling system. The result is a new approach to high-fidelity modeling of composites based on a unified theory for multiscale constitutive modeling, as well as the development of a general purpose micromechanics code for heterogeneous materials. According to Yu, SwiftComp is based on a theory which maximizes accuracy in the modeling process at a given level of efficiency.

SwiftComp homogenizes composites of an arbitrary microstructure using the variational asymptotic method to calculate effective properties, such as thermal, elastic, electric and magnetic characteristics for beams, plates, shells and 3-D bodies. According to Yu, the analysis implements a true multiscale theory, which guarantees the best models at the speed of engineering design capture both anisotropy and heterogeneity of composite constituents at the microscopic scale. SwiftComp is based on a new concept called the Mechanics of Structure Genome, which fills the gap between materials genome and structural analysis. “It enables engineers to model composites as black aluminum, capturing details as needed, which not only saves computing time and resources without sacrificing the accuracy, but also enables engineers to tackle complex problems impossible with other tools,” says Yu.

Purdue Computer Simulation

Using SwiftComp composite simulation sofware developed at Purdue University are, from left, Bo Peng, a graduate research assistant; Wenbin Yu, associate professor; and Ernesto Camarena, a graduate research assistant. Photo Credit: Purdue Research Foundation

SwiftComp can be used independently as a tool for virtual testing of composites or as a plugin to power conventional FEA codes with high-fidelity multiscale modeling for composites. “It’s a general purpose system and is not restricted to a specific manufacturing technique,” says Yu. It can be used to model a variety of applications, including rotor blades, wind turbine blades, composite panels, corrugated structures, sandwich structures, continuous fiber-reinforced composites, short fiber composites, textile composites and more.

The composites simulation program is commercially available, with exclusive licensing rights held by AnalySwift. The engineering software also will be available through technology provider Altair as part of its Altair Partner Alliance. Yu says the program “could change the industrial practice of computer simulation of composites to accelerate innovation by shortening the design period, reducing experiments and further adjustments, and ultimately, reducing the costs associated with composites.”