Communications Project

Document Type:PhD Dissertation
Name:Nicole L. Breivik
Title:Thermal and Mechanical Response of Curved Composite Panels
Degree:Doctor of Philosophy
Department:Engineering Science and Mechanics
Committee Chair: Michael W. Hyer
Chair's email:
Committee Members:Mark S. Cramer
O. Hayden Griffin, Jr.
Zafer Gürdal
Elaine P. Scott
Keywords:buckling, postbuckling, thermal structures, nonlinear response, imperfections
Date of defense:June 4, 1997
Availability:Secure the entire work for patent or proprietary purposes.
After one year release worldwide only with written permission of the student and the advisory committee chair.


Curved panels constructed of laminated graphite-epoxy composite material are of potential interest in airframe fuselage applications. An understanding of structural response at elevated temperatures is required for anticipated future high speed aircraft applications. This study concentrates on the response of unstiffened, curved composite panels subjected to combinations of thermal and mechanical loading conditions. Mechanical loading is due to compressive end-shortening and thermal loading is due to a uniform temperature increase. Thermal stresses, which are induced by mechanical restraints against thermal expansions or contractions, cause buckling and postbuckling panel responses. Panels with three different lamination sequences are considered, including a quasi-isotropic laminate, an axially soft laminate, and an axially stiff laminate. These panels were chosen because they exhibit a range of stiffnesses and a wide variation in laminate coefficients of thermal expansion. The panels have dimensions of 10 in. by 10 in. with a base radius of 60 in. The base boundary conditions are clamped along the curved ends, and simply supported along the straight edges. Three methods are employed to study the panel response, including a geometrically nonlinear Rayleigh-Ritz solution, a finite element solution using the commercially available code STAGS, and an experimental program. The effects of inplane boundary conditions and radius of curvature are studied analytically, along with consideration of order of application in combined loading. A substantial difference is noted in the nonlinear load vs. axial strain responses of panels loaded in end-shortening and panels loaded with uniform temperature change, depending on the specific lamination sequence, boundary conditions, and radius of curvature. Experiments are conducted and results are presented for both room temperature end-shortening tests and elevated temperature tests with accompanying end-shortening. The base finite element model is modified to include measured panel thicknesses, boundary conditions representative of the experimental apparatus, measured initial geometric imperfections, and measured temperature gradients. With these modifications, and including an inherent end displacement of the panel present during thermal loading, good correlation is obtained between the experimental and numerically predicted load vs. axial strain responses from initial loading through postbuckling.

List of Attached Files


The author grants to Virginia Tech or its agents the right to archive and display their thesis or dissertation in whole or in part in the University Libraries in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all proprietary rights, such as patent rights. The author also retains the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis or dissertation.