A novel approach, the Invariant Based Theory of Composites and the "Trace" method it proposes, has the potential to reduce aerospace composite development times and costs by over 30% thus reinvigorating the development process and encouraging composite technology growth. The "trace" method takes advantage of inherent stiffness properties of laminates, specifically carbon fiber, to make predictions of material properties used to derive design allowables. The advantages of the "trace" theory may not necessarily be specific to the aerospace industry, however many automotive manufacturers are facing environmental, social and political pressure to increase the gas mileage in their vehicles and reduce their carbon footprint. Therefore, the use of lighter materials, such as carbon fiber composites, to replace heavier metals in cars is inevitable yet as of now few auto manufacturers implement composites in their cars. The high material, testing and development costs, much like the aerospace industry, have been prohibitive to widespread use of these materials but progress is being made in overcoming those challenges. The "trace" method, while initially intended for quasi-isotropic, aerospace grade carbon-fiber laminates, still yields reasonable, and correctable, results for types of laminates as well such as with woven fabrics and thermoplastic matrices, much of which are being used in these early stages of automotive composite development. Despite the varying use of materials, the "trace" method could potentially boost automotive composites in a similar way to the aerospace industry by reducing testing time and costs and perhaps even playing a role in establishing emerging simulations of these materials.
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