Fiber Orientation

Fiber orientation refers to the optimal structural arrangement of individual fibers in the development and manufacture of advanced composite materials (ACM) and fiber-reinforced composites (FRC).

Most ACMs and FCMs are made from two main constituents: matrices and reinforcements. The binding agent serving as the matrix makes up the bulk of the composite and provides a surrounding medium for reinforcing filaments or fibers made of lighter, stronger material. Similar to how flesh and bone unite to form a body, the matrix material and reinforcing material unite to form a composite.

The extent that strength, elasticity, manufacturability, and other characteristics are enhanced in a fiber-based composite greatly depends on the length and orientation of the reinforcing fibers. By simulating fiber orientation, engineers can predict whether the composite will perform as intended, and to what to what degree. Fiber orientation simulation can also be used to determine the manufacturing methodology that will most consistently and cost-effectively place the fibers in the intended orientation.

For example, depending on what the fibers are made from and the complexity of the desired orientation, manufacturing processes like tailored fiber placement may be more prone to arranging fibers in a way that deviates from the intended orientation – which can cause unexpected characteristics in the final material. By simulating various fiber orientations in the product development stage, engineers can decide whether it will be more cost effective to use a different method of manufacture (such as automated fiber placement), or to revise the orientation of the fibers.

Fiber orientation example

Carbon fibers oriented into a twill weave pattern