Design with Composite Materials Course

 Average 5 out of 5

Design with Composite Materials is an introductory course focusing on students learning properties, manufacturing processes, and design guidelines of fiber-reinforced composite materials.


Design with Composite Materials is an introductory course focusing on students learning properties, manufacturing processes, and design guidelines of fiber-reinforced composite materials. The basics of composite properties, mechanics, and manufacturing processes are introduced. Design guidelines and drafting notations will be emphasized for composite components with various fiber-reinforcements such as unidirectional fibers, random short fibers, and laminate stacking sequences. The lecture handouts, together with homework assignments, course projects, and exams are designed to train the targeted students in community colleges with CAD experience, for associate degrees and/or certificate programs.

This course is designed to meet over a period of 7 weeks, 2 meetings per week, and 2 hours per meeting.

Prerequisites   Entry-level CAD

Reference Books

  • M. W. Hyer, Stress Analysis of Fiber-Reinforced Composite Materials , DES Tech Publications, Inc, ISBN# 9781932078862, 2009
  • Siemens NX User Manuals
  • Composite Materials Handbook Series , MIL-HDBK-17-1-5, 2002

Tools to be Used  Siemens NX9 or similar CAD Software


The course learning outcomes are to have students:

1.      Understand the resultant of a force system acting on an object;

2.      Determine the internal forces and support reactions of a structure using Free-body Diagrams (FBDs);

3.      Understand the concepts of stress, stain, Hooke's Law and Young's Modulus;

4.      Apply knowledge in statics and mechanics of materials in design; 

5.      Understand the main applications, pros and cons of composite materials; 

6.      Understand the fundamental properties of composite materials; 

7.      Understand the difference between isotropic and orthotropic materials; 

8.      Understand the meaning of elastic constants of composite materials; 

9.      Understand the stress-strain relationship of composite materials; 

10.    Be familiar with laminate conventions and stacking sequence; 

11.  Understand the fundamentals of Classical Lamination Theory (CLT); 

12.  Understand the main manufacturing processes of composite products; 

13.  Perform research projects on manufacturing techniques using composites and present them to the class; 

14.  Apply knowledge in design of mechanical systems with composite materials; 

15.  Be able to redesign a steel part using composite materials; 

16.  Understand and apply the composite design guidelines; 

17.  Apply the notation/convention of composite materials in 3D visualization and engineering sketching; 

18.  Demonstrate effective communication and teamwork skills through technical presentations and reports in course projects.


Topics covered

1.      Introduction to Mechanics of Materials                       

  • Stress
  • Strain
  • Poisson's Ratio
  • Generalized Hooke's Law of Isotropic Materials 

2.      Introduction to Fiber-Reinforced Composite Materials                             

  •  Fibers - Carbon/Glass/Polymeric
  • Matrices - Thermoset/Thermoplastics 

3.      Properties of Fiber-Reinforced Composite Materials 

  • Stress
  • Deformation
  • Orthotropic Material Properties
  • Stress-Strain Relations: Compliance and Stiffness Matrix 

4.      Classical Laminate Theory

  • Laminate Matters
  • Definition and Stacking Sequence 

5.      Manufacturing Processes of Composite Materials 

  • Close-Mold Processes
  • Open-Mold Processes
  • Processes for Short-Fiber Composite Materials
  • Processes for Continuous-Fiber Composite Materials 

6.      Composite Design Process and Methodology 

  • Functional Requirements and Economics
  • Preliminary Design
  • Detailed Drawings
  • Determination of Optimal Material/Process
  • Prototyping
  • Tooling tryout 

7.      Composite Design Guidelines 

  • Minimum Inside Radius
  • Undercuts
  • Molded-in Holes
  • Recommended Draft
  • Practical Thickness
  • Ribs
  • Molded-in Labels
  • Surface Finishes
  • Metal Inserts
  • Cross-sectional Shapes


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under
Grant No. 1400593. 

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Energy Policy
Materials Lightweighting
Product Lifecycle:
Pre-production: Research, Design, Development, Testing, and Tooling
Resource Type:
Classroom Activity
Lesson Plan
Kettering University
Author & Title:
Professor Yaomin Dong, Ph.D.
Date Developed:
Sunday, May 01, 2016
composite materials, course work,free body diagrams,manufacturing techniques
Education Level:
Undergrad Students (13-14)
Undergrad Students (15-16)