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Journal Article

Modeling and Simulation of Compression Molding Process for Sheet Molding Compound (SMC) of Chopped Carbon Fiber Composites

Compression molded SMC composed of chopped carbon fiber and resin polymer which balances the mechanical performance and manufacturing cost presents a promising solution for vehicle lightweight strategy. However, the performance of the SMC molded parts highly depends on the compression molding process and local microstructure, which greatly increases the cost for the part level performance testing and elongates the design cycle. ICME (Integrated Computational Material Engineering) approaches are thus necessary tools to reduce the number of experiments required during part design and speed up the deployment of the SMC materials. As the fundamental stage of the ICME workflow, commercial software packages for SMC compression molding exist yet remain not fully validated especially for chopped fiber systems. In the present study, SMC plaques are prepared through compression molding process.
Technical Paper

A Comparative Study of Two RVE Modelling Methods for Chopped Carbon Fiber SMC

To advance vehicle lightweighting, chopped carbon fiber sheet molding compound (SMC) is identified as a promising material to replace metals. However, there are no effective tools and methods to predict the mechanical property of the chopped carbon fiber SMC due to the high complexity in microstructure features and the anisotropic properties. In this paper, a Representative Volume Element (RVE) approach is used to model the SMC microstructure. Two modeling methods, the Voronoi diagram-based method and the chip packing method, are developed to populate the RVE. The elastic moduli of the RVE are calculated and the two methods are compared with experimental tensile test conduct using Digital Image Correlation (DIC). Furthermore, the advantages and shortcomings of these two methods are discussed in terms of the required input information and the convenience of use in the integrated processing-microstructure-property analysis.
Journal Article

Process Integration and Optimization of ICME Carbon Fiber Composites for Vehicle Lightweighting: A Preliminary Development

Process integration and optimization is the key enabler of the Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) of carbon fiber composites. In this work, automated workflows are developed for two types of composites: Sheet Molding Compounds (SMC) short fiber composites, and multi-layer unidirectional (UD) composites. For SMC, the proposed workflow integrates material processing simulation, microstructure representation volume element (RVE) models, material property prediction and structure preformation simulation to enable multiscale, multidisciplinary analysis and design. Processing parameters, microstructure parameters and vehicle subframe geometry parameters are defined as the design variables; the stiffness and weight of the structure are defined as the responses. For multi-layer UD structure, this work focuses on the discussion of different design representation methods and their impacts on the optimization performance.
Journal Article

Finite Element Simulation of Compression Molding of Woven Fabric Carbon Fiber/Epoxy Composites: Part I Material Model Development

Woven fabric carbon fiber/epoxy composites made through compression molding are one of the promising choices of material for the vehicle light-weighting strategy. Previous studies have shown that the processing conditions can have substantial influence on the performance of this type of the material. Therefore the optimization of the compression molding process is of great importance to the manufacturing practice. An efficient way to achieve the optimized design of this process would be through conducting finite element (FE) simulations of compression molding for woven fabric carbon fiber/epoxy composites. However, performing such simulation remains a challenging task for FE as multiple types of physics are involved during the compression molding process, including the epoxy resin curing and the complex mechanical behavior of woven fabric structure.