Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Mechanical Engineering (cod. 5724)

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide theoretical and practical knowledge in the field of composite materials. At the end of the course the student is able to: - face the choice of composite materials and production technologies according to their application - characterize the mechanical behavior of composite materials and of components made with them - check the quality of the composite materials and the components made with them - design components made of composite materials - have a general vision on the life cycle management of composite materials in the circular economy.

Course contents

The course is composed by four macro-sections:

1. Theoretical introduction:


- composite materials features;

- properties of the individual constituents (Fiber and Matrix);

- manufacturing processes and methods;

- micromechanics: homogenization theories;

- theory of lamina and laminate;

- failure criteria;

-sandwich structures.

The theoretical introduction ends with a program in Matlab, made by the students, capable to get the in-plane and flexural stiffness of any flat laminate, starting from the mechanical properties of the single constituents.

2. Mechanical characterization:

Lamination and mechanical characterization (flexural / tensile test) by the students of two types of laminates:

- unidirectional stacking sequence (according to standards), to get the mechanical properties of the laminas in principal directions and compare the results with homogenization theories;

-custom stacking sequence defined by the students, to verify the lamina and laminate theory implemented in Matlab.

3. Numerical modeling:

Numerical modeling of the mechanical behavior of a composite laminate by Finite Element Method (FEM), with layered shell and solid elements. Learning by practices exercises carried on commercial software (Ansys) in class. Analysis of the critical aspects in composite materials, such as: shear behavior, free edge effects and open hole.

4. Projects:

The students arranged in groups, once they have acquired the necessary skills, have to face the design and optimization of a composite component of industrial interest, working with companies in the sector. It follows its realization, performed by the students (with the assistance of the company) and the subsequent experimental validation.


  • Course lecture notes.
  • Mechanics of Fibrous Composites, Carl T. Herakovich, Wiley (1998).
  • Composite Materials Design and Applications, Daniel Gay, CRC Press (2015).
  • Introduction to Composite Materials Design, Ever J. Barbero, CRC Press (2017).

Teaching methods

The teaching is composed by the following phases:

1. Classroom lectures for the theoretical aspects.

2. Computer lab activities for numerical simulation.

3. Review of projects carried out in groups.

4. Lamination activities at the university laboratories and involved companies.

As concerns the teaching methods of this course unit, all students must attend Module 1, 2 online, while Module 3 on health and safety is to be attended in class. Information about Module 3 attendance schedule is available on the website of your degree programme.

Assessment methods

Verification by oral examination in which the following topics will be discussed:

  • the carried out numerical exercises and the relative applied theory;
  • technical report concerning the design and experimental characterization of the composite component developed by the team.

Teaching tools

  • PowerPoint presentations.
  • Software for programming (Matlab), FEM analysis (Ansys) and data analysis (Excel)
  • University labs for fabrication and experimental characterization composite laminates.
  • Companies R&D labs for fabrication of composite structures.

Office hours

See the website of Tommaso Maria Brugo