Multi-scale modelling of strongly heterogeneous 3D composite structures using spatial Voronoi tessellation

Bassam El Said*, Dmitry Ivanov, Andrew C. Long, Stephen R. Hallett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)
664 Downloads (Pure)


3D composite materials are characterized by complex internal yarn architectures, leading to complex deformation and failure development mechanisms. Net-shaped preforms, which are originally periodic in nature, lose their periodicity when the fabric is draped, deformed on a tool, and consolidated to create geometrically complex composite components. As a result, the internal yarn architecture, which dominates the mechanical behaviour, becomes dependent on the structural geometry. Hence, predicting the mechanical behaviour of 3D composites requires an accurate representation of the yarn architecture within structural scale models. When applied to 3D composites, conventional finite element modelling techniques are limited to either homogenised properties at the structural scale, or the unit cell scale for a more detailed material property definition. Consequently, these models fail to capture the complex phenomena occurring across multiple length scales and their effects on a 3D composite’s mechanical response. Here a multi-scale modelling approach based on a 3D spatial Voronoi tessellation is proposed. The model creates an intermediate length scale suitable for homogenisation to deal with the non-periodic nature of the final material. Information is passed between the different length scales to allow for the effect of the structural geometry to be taken into account on the smaller scales. The stiffness and surface strain predictions from the proposed model have been found to be in good agreement with experimental results.

The proposed modelling framework has been used to gain important insight into the behaviour of this category of materials. It has been observed that the strain and stress distributions are strongly dependent on the internal yarn architecture and consequently on the final component geometry. Even for simple coupon tests, the internal architecture and geometric effects dominate the mechanical response. Consequently, the behaviour of 3D woven composites should be considered to be a structure specific response rather than generic homogenised material properties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-71
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Early online date31 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Composites Institute ACCIS
  • Composites UTC


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