Accurately predict behaviour of filled polymers

Paul Boughton

Rhodia is adding three new functions to its MMI Confident Design software for predicting the mechanical behaviour of filled polymers. Manufacturers developing parts made of polyamide-based short fibre composites in partnership with Rhodia can use MMI Confident Design for precisely calculating the mechanical properties of fibre-reinforced polymers, including PA6.6; Rhodia aims to make behavioural predictions with such materials as good as those made when working with steel.
This ability to describe the behaviour of short-fibre composites results from combining e-Xstream Engineering's Digimat software and complex laws of behaviour that Rhodia has developed with the help of both in-house and external experts. If a customer does not have Digimat, Rhodia takes care of the entire development.
The three initial functions provide information on behaviours under stress: elasticity, elasto-plasticity and elasto-viscoplasticity related to the speed of deformation. Other more complex functionalities will follow.
Olivier Moulinjeune, a simulation expert, comments: "By improving our knowledge of discontinuous reinforced composites, Rhodia is improving and accelerating part design. Numerous sectors can more confidently consider replacing metal in a structural part with polyamide in order to reduce its weight and production costs."
Initial applications are geared toward the automotive industry, with engine mount, seat, pedal and other structural parts, as well as other markets such as those for snowboard bindings, circuit breakers and other products.
Digimat is a multi-scale modelling software platform that provides the ability to calculate the behaviour of reinforced engineering plastic at each point of a part by integrating the properties of the matrix and fibres, as well as their orientation, in a static or impact condition.
To model behaviour, Rhodia went far beyond gross test results, making use of the best available resources: analysis of the microstructures in collaboration with the synchrotron facility in Grenoble; advanced mechanical characterizations made at high speed; videometric control of deformations; and others.
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