Advanced Composites Research Laboratory

Recent focus areas and projects

Rapid, inexpensive characterization of composite properties

  • Vibration response measurements for determination of elastic properties and distributions of properties in composite materials and structures
  • Nondestructive vibration damping measurements for characterization of damage, defects and fracture toughness in composites and bonded joints
  • Ultrasonic, Acousto-Ultrasonic, Acoustic Emission and Eddy Current NDE methods for identification of elastic properties and property distribution in composite materials

Design and manufacturing of composite components

  • Application of vibration test techniques to on-line monitoring of composite properties during processing 
  • Vibration-assisted liquid composite molding 
  • Design of energy absorbing materials and structures

Composite materials for noise and vibration control

  • Micromechanical and macromechanical characterization of damping in composites using both analytical and experimental methods 
  • Characterization of acoustic properties of composite materials and structures 
  • Vibration characteristics and integral passive damping in composite grid structures

Composite micro and nano systems

  • Vibration characteristics of composite MEMS devices 
  • Mechanical behavior of nanocomposites

Fracture and fatigue of composites

  • Inelastic deformation and damage mechanisms in metal matrix composites (MMC) 
  • Fracture analysis in ceramic matrix composites (CMC) 
  • Damage accumulation mechanisms in thermal barrier coated superalloys 
  • Crushing of PMC tubes-experimental and computational evaluation

Description of facilities

The Advanced Composites Research Laboratory was established in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Wayne State University (WSU) in 1989 with support from the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Institute for Manufacturing Research and the College of Engineering at WSU. Offices and equipment for fabrication of polymer composites, analytical modeling and mechanical testing of a wide variety of composites are located in the laboratory, which has approximately 1500 sq. ft. o f space.

Fabrication equipment includes a TMP composite vacuum press (40 ton, 1000F) with control system for controlling pressure, temperature and vacuum in curing both thermoset and advanced thermoplastic composites, a lab freezer for prepreg tape storage, a fume hood, a vacuum oven for resin preparation, a standard lab oven for post curing, and a specimen dessicator chamber. Various molds for curing composite and neat resin specimens have been developed as a result of previous research.

Equipment for mechanical testing includes two MTS Model 810 servohydraulic testing machines (22 kip and 55 kip), two Newport vibration isolation tables (3' x 4' and 4' x 6') for mounting sensitive dynamic mechanical test apparatuses, a Polytec MSV micro scanning laser vibrometer system, a Monsanto Tensometer universal testing machine, a Enduratec SmarTest servopneumatic cyclic test system, a Optron noncontacting electro-optical biaxial displacement follower, three Kaman eddy current displacement transducers, two PCB piezoelectric impulse hammer kits including accelerometers, a B&K miniature electromagnetic vibration exciter, a Physical Acoustics ULTRAPAC II PC-based wet and dry ultrasonic test system, a Physical Acoustics MISTRAS basic acoustic-emission test system, a Digital Wave modal acoustic-emission and laminated plate-wave analyzer test system, a Eddy Current Technology PCI eddy current analyzer, a B & K PC-based impedance tube type material acoustic transmission test system, a Kodak Motioncorder high speed photo recording system, and two Satec M-3 creep testing machines with environmental chambers.

Computers and instrumentation for data acquisition and analysis include a Sun UltraSparc workstation, two Sun Sparcstation 20 workstations and variety of PCs, all equipped with hard disks and all connected to laser printers. Data acquisition and analysis capabilities include two HP 3582A dual channel frequency spectrum analyzers, a B & K 2032 digital signal analyzer, a HP digital oscilloscope, a digital frequency counter, a digital function generator, and electrical resistance strain gage data acquisition system.  Numerous software packages such as HYPERMESH, ABAQUS, LS-DYNA 3D, FLUENT, MATLAB, MATHEMATICA,  LABVIEW, MICROSOFT OFFICE  and others are also available on the computers in the lab.

Equipment which has been developed as a result of our research includes impulse-frequency response apparatuses for dynamic mechanical testing in flexural, extensional and torsional modes of vibration, a shaker-excited double cantilever beam apparatus for flexural vibration testing, an impulse-frequency response specimen preloading fixture for attachment to the Monsanto Tensometer and a new high temperature dynamic mechanical testing apparatus for ceramic, metallic and intermetallic matrix composites and fibers.