Jun 26, 2011

MSC Marc Optimizes Composite Materials at CETENA

Italian research center for the shipbuilding industry makes use of nonlinear finite element solution to predict the behavior of composite materials during curing.

MSC Software Corporation has announced that CETENA, a research and development subsidiary of the FINCANTIERI Group, the leading manufacturer in the shipbuilding industry, relies on MSC Marc to investigate and optimize the curing process of composite materials with epoxy resin.

Epoxy resin, like all other thermosetting polymers, reaches its optimal mechanical properties when it is completely cross-linked. The properties of the resin and of the composite material where the resin is used as matrix can change according to the curing level of the resin (which is the fraction of the resin that changed from liquid to solid state) as well as to the thermal cycle used during the curing process. The latter is realized through a strongly exothermic process that can lead to an uncontrolled increase in temperature. The resulting thermal degradation of the material leads to a reduction of the physical and mechanical properties of the component. It is therefore essential to be able to carefully design the thermal cycle of the curing process so that the increase in temperature within the component is maintained within acceptable limits.

"The numerical simulation with MSC Marc plays an important role in choosing the optimal thermal cycle for the curing process, since it enables us to effectively model the heat generation and transmission in the material during the treatment as well as its heat exchange with the environment," said Matteo Codda, CETENA SpA. "From the industrial point of view, the application is of interest both with respect to the design and optimization of thermal cycles of curing, as well as for estimating the quality of the final product that can be obtained through the curing process."

"The case under examination, based on the model of a cylindrical aluminum vessel containing a mixture of epoxy resin and glass fiber subjected to a predefined temperature cycle, shows how MSC Marc can be used as a valuable tool in the simulation of the exothermic curing processes," added Francesco Cestineto, CETENA SpA. "In fact, despite the complexity of the phenomena involved, we can obtain a good correlation between simulation results and experimental results."

"The use of composite materials is critical in today's manufacturing processes," said Ken Welch, VP of Product Management at MSC Software. "MSC is pleased to see CETENA's reliance on MSC Marc, and will continue supporting research and development initiatives aimed at improving the modeling and simulation of composite materials so product manufacturers can apply new and better design and development methods."