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Composite is a special type of material that combines the properties of two different constituents thereby, enhancing its mechanical properties. These constituents are generally a fiber and matrix. Fiber imparts stiffness and strength to the composite while the matrix holds the fiber in place, so that fiber property translation into composite properties is achieved. The objective of this poster is to establish a basic understanding of how to design and fabricate a composite I-beam i.e a carbon-fiber composite I-beam that can be used for bending load applications. It also focuses on the analysis of stresses in beam bending. By beam theory, I-beam is shown to be a very efficient form for carrying both shear and bending loads in the plane of the web but the inefficiency of the I-beam is because of its cross-section which has a reduced capacity in the transverse direction, and also its inefficiency in carrying torsion. The I-beam consists of a carbon fiber unidirectional and woven laminas, as well as high density polystyrene foam to stiffen the structure. It is manufactured using a wet layup technique and cured with the help of vacuum. Composite beams are tested using the 3 point bending test. The limit load for a composite I- beam under pure bending is determined experimentally and theoretically. Through analysis and testing, it is determined that web stability was the driving failure mode and many aspects can be improved through manufacturing techniques. Use of an autoclave as well as using metal molds for curing the beam dramatically increases load carrying capability.

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Course Project

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Donald Klosterman

Primary Advisor's Department

Chemical and Materials Engineering


Stander Symposium poster


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