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Polymer Mechanics Laboratory

Research > Composite manufacturing processes

Finite element modeling of the filament winding process

A finite element model of the wet filament winding process was developed. In particular, a general purpose software for finite element analysis was used to calculate the fiber volume fraction under different process conditions. Several unique user defined subroutines were developed to modify the commercial code for this specific application, and the numerical result was compared with experimental data for validation. In order to predict the radial distribution of the fiber volume faction within a wet wound cylinder, three unique user defined subroutines were incorporated into the commercial finite element code: a fiber consolidation/compaction model, a thermochemical model of the resin and a resin mixing model. The fiber consolidation model describes the influence of the external radial compaction pressure of a new layer as it is wound onto the surface of existing layers. The thermochemical model includes both the cure kinetics and viscosity of the resin. This model analyzes the composite properties and tracks the viscosity of the resin, which is a function of the degree of cure of the resin. The resin mixing model describes the mixing of "old" and "new" resin as plies are compacted. Validations were made by comparing image analysis data of fiber volume fraction in each ply for filament wound cylinders with the FEM results. The good agreement of these comparisons demonstrated that the FEM approach has can predict fiber volume fraction over a range of winding conditions. This approach, then, is an invaluable tool for predicting the effects of winding parameters on cylinder structural quality.

Fig. 1: Experimental validation with particular cylinder, fiber, and resin