Finite element analysis of composite sheet-forming process

Conchur O Bradaigh*, R. Byron Pipes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A numerical solution technique is developed for problems of forming of highly anisotropic composite laminates. The material is assumed to behave as a transversely isotropic Newtonian fluid, subject to the twin kinematic constraints of inextensibility in the fibre direction and material incompressibility. Assumption of plane stress conditions for thin laminae results in a simplified constitutive law, involving a single arbitrary tension stress in the reinforcement direction. The weak forms of the constraint and governing equations for creeping flow are discretized using independent interpolation of the velocity and tension stress fields. The resulting mixed system is seen to be directly analogous to the primitive variable formulation of Stokes flow. A mixed penalty finite element approach is used to solve for each step in an explicit decoupled solution scheme. Computations are carried out using a biquadriatic velocity/bilinear discontinuous tension stress element. Solutions of flat sheet problems are presented, involving fibre orientation and element thickness updating after each time step.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-170
Number of pages10
JournalComposites Manufacturing
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1991


  • composite materials
  • fibre orientation change
  • finite element method
  • highly-anisotropic
  • incompressible
  • penalty formulation

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