Overlap-stiffened panels for optimized buckling performance under minimum steering radius constraints

Raphael Ummels*, Saullo G.P. Castro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Recent research on variable stiffness laminates have shown both numerically and experimentally that further improvement on the buckling performance is possible by incorporating overlaps that result in variable thickness profiles. We present the concept of overlap-stiffened designs that take advantage of the non-linear coupling between the tow steering and the local thickness, allowing embedded regions of higher stiffness into individual plies of a variable-angle tow (VAT) laminate. The proposed method naturally copes with minimum steering radius constraints of different manufacturing processes by connecting transition regions by means of fiber tow arcs, such that the radius of curvature always cope with a desired minimum radius constraint. The present study focuses on two tow-steering processes: automated fiber placement (AFP) and continuous tow shearing (CTS). Each individual ply exploring the overlap-stiffened design is described using 5 design variables, producing a straight stiffener. A first benchmark study compares overlap-stiffened laminates optimized for a maximum volume-normalized buckling performance under bi-axial compression against a reference straight-fiber laminate. In a second benchmark, overlap-stiffened panels were optimized for minimum weight under a design buckling load constraint, and compared against a reference straight-fiber laminate. For both AFP and CTS, is verified that overlap-stiffened VAT panels can achieve at least the double of the volume-normalized buckling performance of an optimized straight-fiber panel. Moreover, the proposed design method can at least achieve the same weight and buckling load carrying capacity of an optimal straight-fiber panel, demonstrating the potential of the proposed design method to include embedded regions of higher thickness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100174
Number of pages11
JournalComposites Part C: Open Access
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Buckling
  • Design
  • Manufacturing constraint
  • Minimum steering radius
  • Optimization
  • Overlap-stiffened panel
  • Tow overlap
  • Variable angle tow
  • Variable stiffness


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