Materials Engineering Department

Degree Name

BS in Materials Engineering




Blair London


Zodiac Aerospace currently employs finite element analysis (FEA) computer models to predict the material behavior of its composite products. The objective of this project was to develop a testing protocol for obtaining detailed material property data to use in these FEA models. With accurate material data, FEA models can reduce the need for expensive physical testing and achieve timely troubleshooting when testing complex components. The specific material characterized in this project was an 8-satin weave fiberglass phenolic pre-preg used as the facesheet material in many of Zodiac’s sandwich panel composites. The developed testing protocol involved mechanical testing of lamina and laminate samples in tension, shear, and compression. Relationships between fiber orientation, sample tabbing, and sample thickness were examined using multiple full factorial experimental designs. Results indicated that nominal fiber orientation was significant in determining the mechanical properties of all samples, while tabbing was not significant for any sample. Sample thickness was less influential in determining tensile and shear properties but more influential in determining compressive properties. The resultant testing protocol therefore recommends that samples used to determine the mechanical properties of pre-preg materials be laminate samples manufactured without tabs, with minimized slenderness ratios, and with differing fiber orientations. Additional parameters of the protocol include surface roughness analysis via profilometry to determine accurate sample thicknesses, and end-cutting of samples via diamond saw to ensure flush sample surfaces. The finalized protocol is intended to be used in the characterization of current and future pre-preg materials produced by Zodiac.

Available for download on Monday, June 13, 2022