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Home > Research topics

The current research activities of the Mechanics of Materials and Structures group are situated in the following domains:

Impact of composite materials

Crush / crash / crashworthiness
  • Development of rate-dependent orthotropic damage models for impact of unidirectional and textile composites
  • Multi-scale modelling of strain-rate dependence and impact strength of unidirectional and textile composites (micro-meso-macro homogenization)
  • Testing and simulation of low-velocity impact and Compression-after-Impact (CAI) of unidirectional and textile composites
  • Measurement of rate-dependent Mode I and Mode II delamination growth and identification of rate-dependent cohesive laws
  • Characterization of the strain-rate dependent tensile properties of thermoset and thermoplastic composites
  • Design of lightweight hybrid composite bumper beams / pillars
  • Axial crushing of square and circular composite tubes for energy absorption

Crush / crash / crashworthiness for other materials
  • Dynamic fracture models for brittle and ductile polymers, including rate dependence and crack branching
  • Combined visco-elasto-plastic/damage/failure material models for polymeric materials
  • Strain-rate dependent hyperelastic models for soft polymer interlayers in laminated glass
  • Directional smeared brittle cracking models for glass
  • Testing and simulation of impact and energy absorption behaviour of EPS foams for bicycle helmets
  • Testing and modelling of (reinforced) rubbers for tyre applications

Special impact types
  • Bird strike tests with gelatine substite birds and real birds on rigid and deformable targets (multi-axial force and momentum measurement !)
  • Simulation of bird strike with Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) and Coupled-Eulerian-Lagrangian (CEL) techniques
  • Testing and simulation of bird strike impact on booster vanes of aircraft engines
  • Slamming and fluid-structure-interaction of deformable composite structures for wave energy applications
  • Ditching of aircraft on the water
  • Blast loading of sacrifical claddings (composite tubes, beverage cans) for protection of infrastructure
  • Impact and blast loading of large laminated glass facades

Fatigue of composite materials

Experimental testing
  • Dedicated set-ups for tension-tension, tension-compression, three- and four-point bending and three-rail shear fatigue
  • Bending set-ups for fully-reversed tension-compression bending fatigue
  • Fatigue behaviour of unidirectional and textile composites with thermoset of thermoplastic matrix
  • Online Digital Image Correlation (DIC) measurement for full-field strains, full stress-strain hysteresis cycles, stiffness degradation and permanent strain-rate
  • Online monitoring with embedded optical fibre sensors, modified extensometers and electrical resistance measurement
  • Post-mortem inspection with optical microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and X-ray micro-tomography
  • Accelerated fatigue testing with Rotating Bending Beam fatigue
  • Multi-axial tension/compression/torsion fatigue testing with electric actuator

Fatigue model development
  • Micro-scale modelling of initiation of fatigue damage in unidirectional composites under variable-amplitude, multi-axial fatigue loading
  • Multi-scale modelling of fatigue damage behaviour in unidirectional and textile composites (micro-meso-macro homogenization)
  • Predictive modelling of delamination initiation and propagation under variable-amplitude, multi-axial fatigue loading
  • Thermo-mechanical fatigue in short fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites
  • Modelling of biaxial fatigue loading in plain cruciform specimens and topology optimization with evolutionary strategies
  • Improved models for "cycle mix" and "load sequence" effect in block loading
  • Modelling of clamping region (tabs, adhesive bond) and associated stress concentration for optimal specimen design (dumbbell, waisted, dogbone,...)

Fatigue of 3D printed materials
  • Fatigue characterization of 3D printed polymers for use in patient-specific ankle-foot orthoses (AFO)
  • Simulation of fatigue crack growth in additively manufactured metals (titanium, stainless steel)
  • Rotating bending beam fatigue for very fast fatigue testing of 3D printed metals for biomedical applications
  • Bending and tension-tension fatigue of individual struts of lattice/cellular structures

NDT/NDE of composite materials

Optical techniques
  • Surface-mounted and embedded optical fibre sensors (multi-axial FBG's and miniaturized wireless read-out system)
  • Self-sensing composites - strain sensing on chip, flexible electronics, cure monitoring with distributed sensing
  • High-resolution Digital Image Correlation (DIC) for measuring strain fields on micro-, meso- and macro-scale
  • Grating techniques for contactless measurements of velocities, accelerations and contact forces in impact tests
  • Measurement of rigid body displacements and rotations with optical grating methods
  • Online video-microscopy during static and fatigue testing
  • Optical microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) of fracture surfaces

  • Ultrasound inspection with ultrasound transducers and portable phased array (64 probes)
  • Identification of full visco-elastic orthotropic stiffness tensor by ultrasound measurement on thin composite plates
  • Ultrasound strain gauge for measurement of three orthogonal strains
  • Visualization of ultrasound with acousto-optics (Schlieren imaging) and mechanoluminescence
  • Detection and quantification of surface corrugations, corrosion and stiffness reduction
  • Thickness measurement of coatings and substrates
  • Measurement of full orthotropic elasticity tensor by means of contact ultrasound

Multi-disciplinary techniques
  • X-ray microtomography for nondestructive geometry reconstruction and defect detection
  • Capacitance sensors for cure monitoring and erosion monitoring
  • Embedded sensor networks in composites for local sensing: self-sensing reinforcement fibres, mechanoluminescence, magnetron sputtering,...
  • Acoustically induced Piezo-Luminescence (APL)
  • High frequency-vibration methods (LDR - Local Defect Resonance) for defect detection in composites
  • Thermoelastic Stress Analysis (TSA) for full-field stress analysis and damage detection
  • Active lockin thermography for defect detection

General mechanics of composite materials

Multi-scale modelling and homogenization
  • Simulation of dry fibre / dry yarn mechanics (biaxial tension and shear of 3D woven fabrics)
  • Hybrid micro-meso-scale modelling of coated fabrics
  • Improved meso-scale geometry models for nested textile composites (avoiding interpenetration)
  • Multi-scale modelling of static strength of unidirectional and textile composites (micro-meso-macro homogenization)
  • Meso-scale modelling of damage development in textile composites in the presence of nesting
  • Analytical models for prediction of ply cracking and free-edge interlaminar stresses in general symmetric laminates under thermomechanical loading
  • Development of EAS hybrid stress elements for accurate calculation of interlaminar stress fields in composites
  • Finite Element Molecular Mechanics (FEMM) for concurrent multi-scale modelling of nanomaterials

Fracture mechanics, joints and adhesives
  • Fracture mechanics testing and simulation of polymers (SENB, TDCB) and composites (DCB, ENF, ELS and MMB)
  • Simulation of mode I, mode II and mixed-mode delamination growth in composites and adhesive bonds
  • Electrospun thermoplastic nanofibres for interlaminar toughening of composites
  • Fusion bonding of carbon fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites by infrared welding
  • On-site joining technologies for PTFE sealant rings on offshore oil rig platforms
  • Pull-off dolly tests for strength of adhesive interfaces and coatings
  • Characterization and modelling of Pressure-sensitive adhesives (PSA)
  • Testing and modelling of PVB interlayers for laminated glass
  • Crack development in micro-encapsulated self-healing polymers and composites

Sound and vibration
  • Multi-scale modelling of the damping and vibration response of unidirectional and textile composites (NVH - Noise/Vibration/Harshness)
  • Frequency-dependent damping behaviour of lightly damped (composite) materials (acoustic excitation and Laser Doppler Vibrometer (LDV) measurement)
  • Phononic crystals for selective frequency band gaps in acoustic metamaterials
  • Making music instruments with composites and foams

3D printed materials
  • Mechanical characterization of nonlinear visco-elasto-plastic response of 3D printed polymers and lattices
  • Multi-scale homogenization of the effective properties of 3D printed lattice/cellular structures
  • Topology optimization strategies for 3D printed solid and lattice/cellular structures
  • Stand-alone Discrete Element Method (DEM) solver for million+ particle interactions in ceramic sintering process

(Large-scale) industrial applications
  • Development of automated meshing tools for large (segmented) wind turbine blades
  • Blade design for small-scale roof-top wind turbines
  • In-service load monitoring of large wind turbine blades for improved fatigue life prediction
  • Test set-ups for stiffness and (fatigue) strength of bicycle frames, front forks and wheels
  • Mechanical characterization of vibration and damping behaviour of racing bicycles and outdoor field testing of bicycles
  • 3D woven fabrics for lightweight sandwich panels
  • Vitrimers - a new class of polymers for recyclable and free-forming composites
  • Composite heat exchangers - thermomechanical design of short-fibre thermoplastic composites at high temperatures and pressures
  • Finite element simulation of deployment of structural membranes for application in architectural tent structures
  • Wide experience with outdoor field testing and battery-powered measurements on locations without electrical grid connections (sailing yachts, wave energy devices, bicycles,...)
  • Design of composite floating point absorbers for wave energy converters (slamming, fluid-structure-interaction)
  • Certification testing of friction pads for the worldwide largest ball joint in a storm surge barrier
  • Numerical simulation of contact and wear in composite bearings for large load applications