First, consider a general laminate to be analysed using a self-consistent micromechanics method. Presented graphically in Figure 3 is the self-consistent micromechanics method used herein. A complete set of material properties for both the fiber and matrix phase are required. Six canonical states of deformation, extending from Equations 10 and 11, are applied as boundary conditions to two representative volume elements, a square array and a hexagonal array shown in Figure 1. The fiber volume fraction of the representative volume elements is 60 percent. For this step the finite element program Abaqus is utilized. Six canonical states of deformation provide both the homogenized stiffness matrix (Cj ) and the enhancement matrix (Mj ) for the two micro-geometries.

Both domains are subjected to a uniform change in temperature in a seventh finite element analysis. This thermal loading case provides the homogenized coefficients of thermal expansion (a) and the thermal superposition vector (Ai). In total, seven finite element analyses are required for each representative volume element of interest.

The homogenized material properties become the input for the laminate level analysis. For illustration, the boundary conditions are limited to in-plane force resultants and a uniform change in temperature AT applied to symmetric, balanced laminates. The laminate level calculation is performed twice, once for both sets of homogenized material properties corresponding to the representative volume elements modelled.

Microstructure / Constituent Properties

Micro-level Strains






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Application of Boundary

Homogenized Lamina








Fig. 3. Flow chart of self-consistent micromechanical enhancement. The analysis steps are boxed in red while the inputs and outputs to each step are boxed in black

The strains in each lamina of the laminate are calculated with a classical laminated plate theory analysis and become inputs to Equation 7. From this step, we obtain two sets of self­consistent states of strain at the micro-level, i. e. in the fiber and matrix phases. This method is considered to be a highly efficient way to obtain micro-level information because laminate geometry and loading conditions can be changed independently of the micromechanics step. Therefore, the initial set of seven finite element analyses only need to be carried out once for each representative volume element. This decoupling of micro and macro level analysis is the characteristic that is responsible for the flexibility and computational efficiency of the method described herein. The alternative approaches described in the introduction require explicit modelling of the fiber and matrix phases for each loading condition and laminate geometry.