Learn from the Experts: The Future of Modeling in Composite Materials and Structures


QUESTION: Is there a way I can learn more about composites directly from the experts?

ANSWER: Yes, MSC Software is hosting a Materials Forum at our MSC Software Users Conference on May 8 from 8:00-10:00 am. I have outlined the schedule of the forum, as well as more information on the experts presenting.

Materials Forum Description

Materials in general, and composites in particular, are becoming a key innovation driver across all industries. The use of composites is booming with the aim at improving performance while reducing weight. Recent examples of its heavy use are: Boeing 787, Airbus A 350 and the BMW i3 and i8.

The full business benefit of composites can only be realized thanks to the optimal mix of composite materials with the corresponding manufacturing processes. The cost of understanding, managing and designing with such a large panel of materials is prohibitive without the effective and efficient use of state-of-the-art material simulation and data and process management tools.

This forum is aimed at discussing industry’s need for simulation and material data management and the solution we are offering and developing to meet the needs of our customers.



Presenting: Historic Perspective and Vision for the Future of Modeling in Composite Materials and Structures

Speaker: Dr. R. Byron Pipes, John Bray Distinguished Professor of Engineering, Purdue University

Abstract:  The analysis methods for composite materials and structures have evolved significantly over the past half century with more recent and rapid development driven by the demand for design of high performance products in the aerospace industry. Yet the very nature of these methods has restricted them in playing an important role in determining approaches to product certification. Today the certification of flight critical structures is largely an empirical enterprise with analysis serving in only a supporting role and this has led to resource intensive certification processes with enormous commitments of time to experimental tests. This commitment to an experiment dominated certification process is a significant barrier to innovation in both products and materials systems. Fortunately, the recent developments of new analysis methods, based on enhanced computational capacity, provide the framework upon which certification by analysis, supported by experiments can be envisioned.

Historically, micromechanics has been viewed as a homogenization process wherein the heterogeneous system is replaced by an equivalent homogeneous medium. For volume averaged properties, this approach has been quite fruitful and allowed the elastic properties of multiple combinations of fibers and matrices to be compared in a materials optimization process. However, this homogenization has also led to the loss of consideration of the very microscopic features responsible for strength and durability. Indeed, the World-Wide Failure Analysis proved that homogenization yields inadequate strength theories. Thus, the need for de-homogenization in analysis is now one of the current focuses of the new approaches being developed. In addition, cohesive element approaches are providing a pathway between conventional failure analysis and fracture mechanics without the presence of finite cracks.

The state of the art of analysis methods for performance of composite materials and structures is far ahead of analysis methods appropriate for manufacturing and processing of composites. This is largely due to the fact that the composites design and manufacturing communities have been distinct with very little cross-over. Yet the economics of composites structures is driven by their manufactured costs and this is often little considered in design for the very reason that manufacturing analysis methods have not been widely available. Therefore, the development and integration of manufacturing and processing simulation tools will likely dominate this process for years to come.

The future for analysis of composite materials and structures is very bright and this is due to the increasing need to provide more cost effective and high fidelity methods for design and manufacture of high performance composite products wherein weight is a major consideration – namely, aerospace, automotive, and energy products. The pathway to that future is a complex one that will involve all stakeholders in this important enterprise, but it will also be an exciting and rewarding one for all those who share in its success.



  • Roger A. Assaker, e-Xstream engineering


  • Leo Kilfoy; MSC Software
  • Dr. Byron Pipes; Purdue University
  • Alan R. Wedgewood, PhD; Dupont
  • Sanjay Sharma; Hexcel
  • Steve Precup; Boeing


About the Experts

R.BYRON PIPES, NAE, IVA R. Byron Pipes was appointed John L. Bray Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Purdue University in 2004. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (1987) and the Royal Society of Engineering Sciences of Sweden (1995). He served as Goodyear Endowed Professor of Polymer Engineering at the University of Akron during 2001-04. He was Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the College of William and Mary during 1999-2001, where he pursued research at the NASA Langley Research Center in the field of carbon nanotechnology. He served as President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 1993-98. Dr. Pipes was Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Delaware from 1991-93 and served as Dean of the College of Engineering and Director of the Center for Composite Materials during 1977-91 at the same institution. He was appointed Robert L. Spencer Professor of Engineering in 1986 in recognition of his outstanding scholarship in the field of polymer composite materials ranging over the subject areas of advanced manufacturing science, durability, design and characterization. He is the author of over one-hundred archival publications including four books and has served on the editorial boards of four journals in his field. Dr Pipes has been recognized for his leadership in creating partnerships for university research with the private sector, government and academia. He served as one of the first six directors of National Engineering Research Centers of NSF. Dr Pipes received his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington and the MSE from Princeton University. He is the recipient of the Gustus L. Larson Award of Pi Tau Sigma and the Chaire Francqui, Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award in Belgium. He holds Fellow rank in ASC, ASME and SAMPE. Dr. Pipes has served on a number of National Research Council panels as both member and chair and served two terms on the National Materials Advisory Board. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Delaware.

ROGER ASSAKER serves as Chief Material Strategist and Chief Executive Officer of E-Xstream Engineering of MSC Software Corporation. Mr. Assaker has a strong focus on nonlinear computational mechanics where he totals more than 20 years of experience. Mr. Assaker serves as the Vice Chairman of NAFEMS Composite Working Group and active member of other technical material associations such as SPE and SAMPE. Mr. Assaker holds a PhD and MS in Aerospace Engineering. He complemented his engineering education with an MBA in International Business and several advanced technology, business and entrepreneurship courses from prestigious universities such as MIT.

Attending the Forum

To attend the Materials Forum please join our MSC Software Users Conference in Irvine, CA. More information & registration can be found here.

Please contact Americas.Conference@mscsoftware.com if you have any questions.

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