In other cases, such as textile preforms and prepreg, the transformation of the planar sheet material to the curvilinear geometry requires that an analysis of the sheet forming process be carried out with yet another simulation tool. In order to determine the contribution of chemical and thermal shrinkage on the final shape and to specify the appropriate cure cycle for the specific polymer system, an analysis of the curing kinetics and resulting shrinkage is provide with cure kinetic simulation. The output of this analysis can then be fed into the original FEA tool in order to determine the final part geometry after cure shrinkage. By iterating the process, it is possible to choose an initial tool geometry that will yield the desired structural part geometry after the thermal and chemical shrinkage have occurred. Further, the UQ structure utilizes the multiple simulations to predict the variability in final part geometry and optimization-under-uncertainty tools can provide a natural pathway to minimize variability through simulation.
These examples show how design and manufacturing simulation can provide rapid and robust design and manufacture of composite materials and structures. With a broad array of simulation tools augmented by the science of UQ, the heuristic character of the manufacturing and certification of composites and the “test only” approach can be transformed into an engineering and science-based process where significant economy can be realized. The economic benefits of rapid certification of composite materials and process technologies provide the incentive for the initiation of an innovative and comprehensive partnership between industry, government and academia to establish this new paradigm. This is a vital step forward if our industry is to continue to pave the way for new developments in the field of composites as well as meeting society’s rapidly growing demand for high-performance materials. The time is now for the industry and profession to join hands and take the steps to create this new paradigm.