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ME40319: Composite materials

[Page last updated: 04 August 2021]

Academic Year: 2021/2
Owning Department/School: Department of Mechanical Engineering
Credits: 6 [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Notional Study Hours: 120
Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Semester 1
Assessment Summary: EX 100%
Assessment Detail:
  • Examination (EX 100%)
Supplementary Assessment:
ME40319 Reassessment Examination (where allowed by programme regulations)
Description: Aims:
To give engineering students an understanding of the nature of composite materials and how this determines their successful application.

Learning Outcomes:
After taking this unit the student will have:
* Demonstrated an appreciation of the properties of composite materials and how they arise.
* Demonstrated a knowledge and understanding of the key areas of manufacturing technology, the importance of the correct choice of material and configuration, and the factors limiting the structural performance and service life of the component, and methods for fault detection and life prediction.

Facilitated - intellectual, practical.

Introduction and micromechanics: Comparison of mechanical properties of composites with other engineering materials. Anisotropy. Longitudinal and transverse elastic moduli of FRPs, Rule of Mixtures. Determination of modulus of elasticity as a function of orientation. Strength of composites parallel and perpendicular to fibres, Krenchel coefficients. Load transfer in composites, interfacial shear, critical fibre lengths, critical aspect ratio. Inter-laminar shear strength. Toughness of composites, Cook-Gordon effect, fracture energy of composites. Manufacture of composites.
Composite laminates: Comparison of carbon fibre laminates and aluminium alloys. Laminate analysis/ design. Material coupling. Failure criteria (strength and stiffness).
Sandwich structures: Review of sandwich structures. Design and analysis of sandwich structures. In-plane failure modes. Case study example of a honeycomb structure. Impact behaviour of composite and sandwich panels.
NDT: Role of NDT in quality control and in in-service inspection of aircraft. Review of types of defect found in aircraft and their hazards. X-ray inspection, sources, recording, sensitivity, radiation safety. Dye penetrant crack detection. Ultrasonic testing, ultrasonic wave propagation and reflection. Transducers, coupling. A-scan, b-scan, c-scan, shear wave and surface wave inspection techniques. Electrical methods, eddy current, potential drop, magnetic methods. Special inspection problems posed by composite materials. "The ageing aircraft programme".

Programme availability:

ME40319 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • UEME-AFM04 : MEng(Hons) Aerospace Engineering (Year 4)
  • UEME-AKM04 : MEng(Hons) Aerospace Engineering with Year long work placement (Year 5)
  • UEME-AFM48 : MEng(Hons) Integrated Design Engineering (Year 4)
  • UEME-AKM48 : MEng(Hons) Integrated Design Engineering with Year long work placement (Year 5)
  • UEME-AFM16 : MEng(Hons) Mechanical Engineering (Year 4)
  • UEME-AKM16 : MEng(Hons) Mechanical Engineering with Year long work placement (Year 5)
  • UEME-AFM47 : MEng(Hons) Mechanical with Automotive Engineering (Year 4)
  • UEME-AKM47 : MEng(Hons) Mechanical with Automotive Engineering with Year long work placement (Year 5)


  • This unit catalogue is applicable for the 2021/22 academic year only. Students continuing their studies into 2022/23 and beyond should not assume that this unit will be available in future years in the format displayed here for 2021/22.
  • Programmes and units are subject to change in accordance with normal University procedures.
  • Availability of units will be subject to constraints such as staff availability, minimum and maximum group sizes, and timetabling factors as well as a student's ability to meet any pre-requisite rules.
  • Find out more about these and other important University terms and conditions here.