Modelling of fibre steered plates with coupled thickness variation from overlapping continuous tows

L. Vertonghen*, S. G.P. Castro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Previous research has hinted on further improvements of the buckling behaviour of variable-stiffness laminates by incorporating overlaps, resulting in a variable thickness profile that is non-linearly coupled to the steering angles. The present study compares two modelling strategies to consider the variable thickness distribution: 1) as-manufactured with discrete thicknesses; and 2) smoothed with a continuous thickness distribution. The as-manufactured discrete thickness created by overlapping tows is obtained by means of virtually manufactured laminates. The smeared approximation is much simpler to implement, whereby the local thickness is a non-linear function of the local steering angle. Linear buckling analyses are performed by means of fast semi-analytical models based on the Ritz method using hierarchical polynomials and classical plate formulation. By assuming a smooth manufacturing mould on one side, a one-sided thickness variation is produced, resulting in non-symmetric laminates for which the mid-plane surface is varied accordingly. Modelling guidelines are provided regarding the use of the smeared model in a study covering a wide range of geometries, loading and boundary conditions. With these guidelines, one can apply the smeared thickness technique in semi-analytical models to reach a correlation within ±5% compared to a costly discrete-thickness finite element model.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113933
Number of pages17
JournalComposite Structures
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Continuous tows
  • Discrete thickness
  • Linear Buckling
  • Smeared thickness
  • Variable angle tow
  • Variable stiffness laminates


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