Fundamentals of Composite Structure Design


This seminar has been developed specifically for engineers who require some fundamental understanding the structural design requirements for composites. The application of composite materials is initially discussed in terms of the constituent component material properties and manufacturing processes based on the design requirements analysis. The tailoring of structural properties through lamination and fibre orientation placement are discussed in relationship to strength of materials issues and load/deformation response. The design development of the laminate is based on design outcomes and how fibre/resin systems and ply orientation is determined to achieve these design outcomes. This seminar will briefly cover the design requirements of stress analysis for the design detail such of joints, structural stiffening against instability and other structural discontinuities. Other aspects of the seminar to be covered include environmental and longevity aspects, certification and in-service support issues.

Key Topics:

  • Structural Design Requirements
  • Laminate Configuration Sizing and Distribution
  • Structural Performance Estimation and Understanding
  • Other Structural Considerations – holes, joints, ply termination
  • Operational Environment Issues
  • Certification
  • Click below for full outline

Who Should Attend:

The content of this course does require participants to have an engineering or material science degree to fully appreciate the impact of composite materials in structural design of airframes and other composite structures.

Course Information:

Type of Course: Instructor-Led Short Course
Course Level: Fundamentals-Intermediate
Course Length: 2 days
AIAA CEU's available: Yes



I. Composite Design Process
A. Terms and Definitions
II. Structural Design Requirements
III. Constituent Materials and Manufacturing Processes Implications
IV. Ply and Laminate Material Properties and Mechanics of Composites (Review)
V. Design of Composite Structures
VI. Composite Plates and Shells, and Sandwich Structures
VII. Other Structural Considerations
A. Terms and Definitions
B. Joint Design Stress Concentrations
C. Ply Drop-Off and Build-Up
D. Interlaminar Stresses
VIII. Environmental Effects, Durability and Damage Tolerance
IX. Operational Requirements, Maintenance and Repair
X. Certification





Dr. Rikard Benton Heslehurst is a former aeronautical engineering officer in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). During his 16 years military service Rik was in-charge of the RAAF Material and Process Engineering Section and earlier an airworthiness engineer on the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft. Currently Rik is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Aerospace, Civil and Mechanical Engineering of the University College, UNSW at the Australian Defence Force Academy (UNSW@ADFA). At UNSW@ADFA Rik lectures in aircraft design, airframe design and analysis, structural joining methods, damage analysis and repair design, and composite structural design. His research interests follow similar lines. Rik is currently a consultant engineer for Abaris Training - Reno NV, Raytheon Australia and DARcorp – Lawrence, KS, he has also consulted for Advanced Composites, NASA, USAF, Bombardier Aerospace, Australia Space and Safety Office and Orbital Science. He has conducted engineering short courses for NASA Marshall and Goddard Space Flight Centres, Lockheed-Martin Skunk Works, USAF Academy, Royal Australian Navy, USAF Wright Patterson Laboratories, Boeing Australia, Bombardier Aerospace, Honeywell Systems and Sandia National Laboratories. Rik has a Bachelor of Engineering (Aeronautical) degree, with Honours, and a Master of Engineering degree, both from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and he also has a PhD from the UNSW. Rik is a Charted Professional Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Engineers, Australia, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a Fellow of SAMPE, and a Senior Member of the American Institute Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is also a member of SAE, ACSS, EAA and the Spitfire Association.



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