Composites Engineering Lecture
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Composites Engineering is a core module for "with composites engineering as a specialist pathway" available to students on BEng/MEng (honours) Mechanical Engineering (UCAS codes are H300 (BEng)/H304 (MEng)) or BEng/MEng (honours) Marine Technology courses (UCAS codes are J610 (BEng)/J612 (MEng)).  The modules MATS 347, MATS 348 and MFRG 311 are the specific components of the pathway.

This module integrates the learning from the Composites Design and Manufacture ..and.. Quality Management II modules in a
    practical assignment to specify, design, manufacture, test and report on a prototype composite component.

Module Record (PUMR) for MATS 348: assessment is 0% examination and 100% coursework (PUMR only available if you have University of Plymouth login credentials).

The components considered in this module (and the earlier modules MATS320 during 2001-2015 or MATS304 Composite Applications until AY2000/2001) were:

 Academic Year Components
 1997-98 mountain bike suspension arm
 1998-99 bicycle front forks
 1999-00 yacht winch handle
 2000-01 skaters trolley
 2001-02 launching trolley for a dinghy
 2002-03 man-portable bridge
 2003-04 in-situ repair of a welded T-joint in an oiltank
 2004-05 yacht mast spreader
 2005-06 a crutch for a disabled table-tennis player
 2006-07 (a) car spoiler, (b) cross bow limb (published in Composites Part B: Engineering)
 2007-08 legs for a bipedal robot
 2008-09 kite-surf board
 2009-10 (a/b) bicycle crank, (c) luge board
 2010-11 (a) gas turbine blade, (b) ice-axe handle, (c) recreational helmet.
 2011-12 bridge span of 584 mm with 100 mm square maximum cross-section.
 2012-13 a torsion rod or a torsion tube
 2013-14  (a) bicycle sprocket, (b) in-wheel bicycle suspension, (c) coil over-spring (photos below table)
2014-15 composite car jack for motorsport
2015-16 wheel bracket for the Project Nevada hand-cycle
2016-17(a) motor cycle front foot rest, (b) ice axe shaft, (c) BMX brake calliper, (d) arctic tow hook.
2017-18 (a) cycle brake lever, (b) long board truck bar, (c) subsea locking mechanism 
2018-19(a) mountain bike handlebars, (b) bicycle wheel, (c) motorcycle swing arm,
(d) blade (short ski), (e) carabiner, (f) truck lift crane arm
2019-20 (Covid) (a) bicycle saddle, (b) welders head protection,
(c) D-link winch hooking mechanism, (d) emergency services sledgehammer.
2020-21 (Covid) (a) shin brace, (b) aircraft footstep, (c) Pulaski axe,
(d) domestic hydro-turbine blade. (e) tennis racket, (f) helicopter blade attachment.
2021-22 (a) lifeboat steering wheel, (b) stakeboard truck, (c) carabiner. 

coil spring 1  coil spring 2
2013/14c photographs courtesy of Mathew Brierley


Unlikely but true ...

Modelling sandwich structure in Solidworks

  • You need to define a "contact set" to bond the two facesheets to the core manually [Maozhou Meng]

It is important that all students are aware of the Health and Safety considerations for this module.  You will be required to attend the Health and Safety presentation and to sign to confirm that you have done so before you will be allowed to use the facilities in the ACMC laboratory (Brunel 007). This support material can be accessed online.


Static short-term loads (construction industry)21
Static long-term loads (construction industry)41
Variable/changing loads (construction industry)41
Repeated loads (construction industry)61
Fatigue or load-reversal (construction industry)61
Impact loads repeated (construction industry)101
Composite manufacture by handwork1.52
Composite manufacture by machine controlled spray application1.52
Composite manufacture by hand-held spray application32
Composite chemical pressure vessel with a thermoplastic liner1.22
Composite chemical pressure vessel without a thermoplastic linerup to 22
Composite operating temperature (dependent on HDT)1.0-1.252
Composite post-cure to manufacturers specification1.12
Composite for operation up to 45ºC1.32
Composite for operation over 45ºC1.32


  1. SM Halliwell, Polymer composites in construction, Construction Research Communications Limited by permission of Building Research Establishment Limited, Watford/London, 2000. ISBN 1-86081-429-8.  PU CSH Library.
  2. BS 4994:1987 Design and construction of vessels and tanks in reinforced plastics

Pugh's design specification elements (Pugh, 1991)
LegalPatentsStandards specificationsDocumentation
Market constraintsCompany constraintsCompetitionCustomer
MaintenanceLife in serviceProduct life spanShelf life storage
MaterialsManufacturing facilityProduct costTime scale
ProcessesTestingQualityQuality reliability


  1. S Pugh, Total design: integrated methods for successful product engineering, Addison-Wesley Publishing, Harlow - UK, 1991.  PU CSH Library.

Recommended reading:

  • MF Ashby, Materials Selection in Mechanical Design, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1992. ISBN 0-08-041907-0.  Fourth edition: ISBN ISBN 978-1-85617-663-7, 2011.  PU CSH Library.
  • D Gay, Composite Materials: Design and Applications - third edition, CRC Press, 2014.  ISBN 978-1-4665-8487-7.
  • RF Gibson, Principles of Composite Material Mechanics - 4th edition, CRC Press, 2016.  ISBN 978-1-4987-2069-4.
  • DC Smoot and AB Strong, Product and Process Innovation - a review, Journal of Advanced Materials, April 2006, 38(2), 64-79.
  • A Brent Strong, Composites in Manufacturing - Case Studies, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 1991.  ISBN 0-87263-406-x.  PU CSH Library
  • JFV Vincent, OA Bogatyreva, NR Bogatyrev, A Bowyer and A-K Pahl, Biomimetics: its practice and theory, Journal of the Royal Society - Interface (online).
    Supplementary materials:
    Appendix 1: Altshuller’s 40 Inventive Principles with biological examples
    Appendix 2: Apportioning Altshuller’s conflict features and inventive principles to the PRIZM categories.
    Appendix 3: Examples of functions at various size scales in biology and technology.

Cost comparisons

Environmental assessments

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Created by John Summerscales on 03 January 2006 and updated on 18-Feb-2022 16:07. Terms and conditions. Errors and omissions. Corrections.