Undergraduate Teaching

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4C2: Designing with Composites, 2016-17

Engineering Tripos Part IIB, 4C2: Designing with Composites, 2016-17

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Module Leader

Dr M Sutcliffe


Dr M Sutcliffe and Dr A Markaki

Lab Leader

Dr M Sutcliffe

Timing and Structure

Michaelmas term. 13 lectures + 1 examples class + 10 hours coursework. Assessment: 75% exam/25% coursework


The aims of the course are to:

  • develop a systematic approach to design with composites based on mechanical properties and to understand the practical considerations associated with design, manufacture and service requirements.


As specific objectives, by the end of the course students should be able to:

  • be familiar with the range of composite systems in use.
  • derive and use formulae to bound composite material properties.
  • perform simple laminate analysis by hand, and more complex analysis with the help of appropriate software.
  • be familiar with the use of carpet plots to choose laminates based on stiffness.
  • understand the detailed mechanisms of lamina and laminate failure.
  • use strength models of failure for lamina and laminates.
  • describe design processes commonly used for composite structures.
  • be familiar with the manufacturing routes for composites.
  • use selection charts to select an appropriate manufacturing route.
  • understand the practical requirements associated with joining, manufacture and service use.


Introduction and processing (1L, Dr M P F Sutcliffe)

  • Introduction
  • Fabrication technology

Elastic behaviour of laminates (5L, Dr A E. Markaki)

  • Elastic deformation of composites (stiffness bounds) and material property charts.
  • On and off-axis elastic constants of laminates.
  • Elastic deformation of laminates.

Designing against failure (4L, Dr M P F Sutcliffe)

  • Underlying mechanisms of yield and failure for laminate. Strength of a single ply.
  • Failure of laminates. Strength models. Splitting and delamination. Composite toughness.
  • Testing methods.

Practical Laminate Design (3L, Dr M P F Sutcliffe)

  • Laminate design methods. Carpet plots. Case studies.
  • Composite Compressive Strength Modeller software.


10 hours - Establish design criteria for a simple structure. Apply design methods to select laminate, using Composite Compressive Strength Modeller software. Consider practical considerations to outline a detailed design.


Please see the Booklist for Group C Courses for references for this module


Please refer to Form & conduct of the examinations.


The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) describes the requirements that have to be met in order to become a Chartered Engineer, and gives examples of ways of doing this.

UK-SPEC is published by the Engineering Council on behalf of the UK engineering profession. The standard has been developed, and is regularly updated, by panels representing professional engineering institutions, employers and engineering educators. Of particular relevance here is the 'Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes' (AHEP) document which sets out the standard for degree accreditation.

The Output Standards Matrices indicate where each of the Output Criteria as specified in the AHEP 3rd edition document is addressed within the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering Triposes.

Last modified: 31/05/2016 09:12