Composites - Materials and Applications


1)     Rules for a material to be a "composite". Composite types, typical properties against those of conventional materials. Composite "strong" and "weak" points.


2)     Understanding how the mechanical anisotropy arises, and how it can serve the construction of orthotropic laminae/laminates. Moreover, to understand  how to control the "stiffness" and " strength" of monolythic composites as a function of the nature and shape of the reinforcement.


3)     Understanding the links between "flaws" and mechanical properties, particularly upon the "strength" and "fracture toughness" of a composite component, and how to correct such a defect by modifying its "interfaces" – bearing in mind how they may change by local reactions, or to be protected from them.


Gathering  all the above concepts into a new design methodology involving  engineering  structural materials – knowing in advance ,by resorting to "materials selection rules", whether the composite under assessment  is to be the best material for the job.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Alexandre José da Costa Velhinho


Weekly - 5

Total - 84

Teaching language





Daniel Gay, Suong V. Hoa, “Composite Materials – Design and Applications", 2nd edition, ed. CRC Press, Boca Raton – London – New Tork (2007), 548 pp.

D. Hull, T.W. Clyne, “An Introduction to Composite Materials", 2nd edition, Cambridge Solid State Science series, ed. Cambridge Press University, Cambridge (1996), 326 pp.

T.W. Clyne, P.J. Withers, “An Introduction to Metal Matrix Composites”, Cambridge Solid State Science series, ed. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1995) 510 pp.

B. Cantor, F.P.E. Dunne, I.C. Stone (Eds.) “Metal and Ceramic Matrix Composites”, Science in Materials Science and Engineering series, ed. Institute of Physics, Bristol – Philadelphia (2004) 430 pp.

Valery V. Vasiliev, Evgeny V. Morozov, “Mechanics and Analysis of Composite Materials”, ed. Elsevier, Amsterdam (2001) 430 pp.

Teaching method

Two types of lessons will be considered: Lectures (theory / practice) and laboratory. Lectures will be given using PowerPoint slides, students having access to copies on the course page in the Moodle platform. Problem solving sessions will take place, as well as different case study analysis, based on scientific articles. The laboratory work will be performed by the students under the guidance of the teacher and focus on the different topics of the syllabus. A visit to the composite production unit of OGMA, an aeronautical construction business, or other equivalent facility, may complement the unit.

Teaching has theoretical and experimental components that will allow students to acquire and apply knowledge in developing new composite materials for a wide range of applications. In lectures, the subjects will be presented and explained, and case studies will be analyzed (scientific papers), as well as solving problems based on real situations, which will allow the consolidation of knowledge that will later be put into practice in labs. Thus, lectures and laboratory classes complement each other in order to provide an integrated learning. Lab works assume an important role in the evaluation of the curricular unit as it is through these that students acquire skills in experimental terms that allow them to implement different  laboratory techniques in the development of new composite materials. A study visit is designed to facilitate the transposition of acquired knowledge to an industrial environment.

Throughout the semester, a constant demand will be placed on knowledge previously acquired (Physical Metallurgy, Ceramic Materials, Polymer Chemistry and Physics, Mechanics of Materials, Materials Processing…), and special care will be taken in order to establish firm bridges to subsequent curricular units.

Evaluation method

Two tests, lab reports, final exam.

 Participation in lab sessions is mandatory, and must be accompanied by the submission of reports, in order to obtain frequency of the curricular unit.

The tests are not obligatory, but should be undertaken to insure exemption from the final exam; a minimum average mark of 9.5 is required to insure exemption from the final exam. If this condition is not fulfilled, the student must submit to the final exam.

The final grade (NF) is obtained as:

NF = 0.30* T1 + 0.30 + T2 + 0.40* P (for the case of exemption from the final exam) or;

NF = 0.60*NE + 0.40* P (for the case of participation in the final exam).

In the above, T1 and T2 are the grades attained in the mid-term tests, P is the average grade of the lab reports and NE stands for the grade in the final exam.

Subject matter

  • Composite Materials: promises and challenges in Materials Science and Engineering.
  • Fabrication processes.
  • Matrix and reinforcement materials.
  • Fibre architectures.
  • Elastic deformation of composite materials:
    • Long-fibre-reinforced;
    • Laminates;
    • Short-fibre-reinforced;
    • Particle-reinforced.
  • The interface region.
  • Strength and toughness of composite materials.
  • Thermal behaviour of composite materials.
  • Part design with composite materials.
  • Innovation examples:
    • Functionally graded composites;
    • Syntactic composites;
    • SMARt composites.
  • Applications:
    • Aeronautics and airspace;
    • Land transportation;
    • Ship building;
    • Sports and leisure;
    • Energy;
    • Biomaterials;
    • Other uses.