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Stiffness Predictions for

Unidirectional Short-Fiber Composites:

Review and Evaluation
Charles L. Tucker III
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1206 W. Green St.
Urbana, IL 61801
Erwin Liang
GE Corporate Research and Development
Schenectady, NY 12301
September 29, 1998

To appear in Composites Science and Technology

Micromechanics models for the stiffness of aligned short-fiber composites are reviewed
and evaluated. These include the dilute model based on Eshelbys equivalent inclusion, the
self-consistent model for finite-length fibers, Mori-Tanaka type models, bounding models, the
Halpin-Tsai equation and its extensions, and shear lag models. Several models are found
to be equivalent to the Mori-Tanaka approach, which is also equivalent to the generalization
of the Hashin-Shtrikman-Walpole lower bound. The models are evaluated by comparison to
finite element calculations using periodic arrays of fibers, and to Ingber and Papathanasious
boundary element results for random arrays of aligned fibers. The finite element calculations
provide E11, E22, 12, and 23 for a range of fiber aspect ratios and packing geometries, with
other properties typical of injection-molded thermoplastic matrix composites. The HalpinTsai equations give reasonable estimates for stiffness, but the best predictions come from the
Mori-Tanaka model and the bound interpolation model of Lielens et al.


whom correspondence should be addressed


This paper reviews and evaluates models that predict the stiffness of short-fiber composites. The
overall goal of the research is to improve processing-property predictions for injection-molded
composites. The polymer processing community has made substantial progress in modeling processinduced fiber orientation, particularly in injection molding, and these results are now routinely used
to predict mechanical properties. The purpose of this paper is to review the relevant micromechanics literature, and to provide a critical evaluation of the available models. Real injection-molded
composites invariably have misoriented fibers of highly variable length, but aligned-fiber properties are always calculated as a prelude to modeling the more realistic situation. Hence, we focus
here on composites having aligned fibers with uniform length and mechanical properties. The
modeling of composites with distributions of fiber orientation and fiber length, and the treatment
of multiple types of reinforcement, will be discussed in a subsequent paper 1.
In selecting models for consideration, we impose the general requirements that each model
must include the effects of fiber and matrix properties and the fiber volume fraction, include the
effect of fiber aspect ratio, and predict a complete set of elastic constants for the composite. Any
model not meeting these criteria was excluded from consideration.
All of the models use the same basic assumptions:

The fibers and the matrix are linearly elastic, the matrix is isotropic, and the fibers are either
isotropic or transversely isotropic.
The fibers are axisymmetric, identical in shape and size, and can be characterized by an
aspect ratio `=d.
The fibers and matrix are well bonded at their interface, and remain that way during deformation. Thus, we do not consider interfacial slip, fiber-matrix debonding or matrix microcracking.

Section 2 presents some important preliminary concepts, emphasizing strain-concentration tensors and their relationship to composite stiffness. Section 3 then reviews the various theories.
Section 4 compares and evaluates the available models. We use finite element computations of
periodic arrays of short fibers to provide reference propert ies, since it has not proved possible to
create physical specimens with perfectly aligned fibers. A subsequent paper 1 will compare model
predictions to experiments on well-characterized composites with misaligned fibers.


2.1 Notation
Vectors will be denoted by lower-case Roman letters, second-order tensors by lower-case Greek
letters, and fourth-order tensors by capital Roman letters. Whenever possible, vectors and tensors
are written as boldface characters; indicial notation is used where necessary.
A subscript or superscript f indicates a quantity associated with the fibers, and m denotes
a matrix quantity. Thus, the fibers have Youngs modulus Ef and Poisson ratio f , while the
corresponding matrix properties are Em and m .

The symbol represents the fourth-order unit tensor. and denote the stiffness and compliance tensors, respectively, and  and " are the total stress and infinitesimal strain tensors. Hence,
the constitutive equations for the fiber and matrix materials are


C f "f
Cm " m



2.2 Average Stress and Strain

Let x denote the position vector. When a composite material is loaded, the pointwise stress field
 ( ) and the corresponding strain field "( ) will be non-uniform on the microscale. The solution
of these non-uniform fields is a formidable problem. However, many useful results can be obtained
in terms of the average stress and strain 2. We now define these averages.
Consider a representative averaging volume V . Choose V large enough to contain many fibers,
but small compared to any length scale over which the average loading or deformation of the
composite varies. The volume-average stress  is defined as the average of the pointwise stress
 ( ) over the volume V :




The average strain " is defined similarly.

It is also convenient to define volume-average stresses and strains for the fiber and matrix
phases. To obtain these, first partition the averaging volume V into the volume occupied by the
fibers Vf and the volume occupied by the matrix Vm . We consider only two-phase composites, so
V = Vf + Vm
The fiber and matrix volume fractions are simply vf = Vf =V and vm = Vm =V and, since only
fibers and matrix are present, vm + vf = 1.
The average fiber and matrix stresses are the averages over the corresponding volumes,
 ( )dV
 ( )dV
f Vf
m Vm

The average strains for the fiber and matrix are defined similarly.
The relationships between the fiber and matrix averages and the overall averages can be derived
from the preceding definitions; they are



v f  f + vm  m
v f " f + vm " m


An important related result is the average strain theorem. Let the averaging volume V be
subjected to surface displacements 0 ( ) consistent with a uniform strain "0. Then the average
strain within the region is
" = "0

u x

This theorem is proved 2 by substituting the definition of the strain tensor


" in terms of the dis-

placement vector
result is

u into the definition of average strain " , and applying Gausss theorem.

"ij = V



u0i nj + ni u0j dS

where S denotes the surface of V and is a unit vector normal to dS . The average strain within
a volume V is completely determined by the displacements on the surface of the volume, so displacements consistent with a uniform strain must produce the identical value of average strain. A
corollary of this principle is that, if we define a perturbation strain "C ( ) as the difference between
the local strain and the average,

"C (x)  " (x) ? "

x) must equal zero:

then the volume-average of "C (



"C (x)dV

The corresponding theorem for average stress also holds. Thus, if surface tractions consistent with
a  0 are exerted on S then the average stress is

 = 0


2.3 Average Properties and Strain Concentration

The goal of micromechanics models is to predict the average elastic properties of the composite,
but even these need careful definition. Here we follow the direct approach 3 . Subject the representative volume V to surface displacements consistent with a uniform strain "0 ; the average stiffness
of the composite is the tensor that maps this uniform strain to the average stress. Using eqn (8)
we have

 = C"


The average compliance is defined in the same way, applying tractions consistent with a uniform
stress  0 on the surface of the averaging volume. Then, using eqn (12),


" = S


It should be clear that = ?1 . Other authors define the average stiffness and compliance through
the integral of the strain energy over V ; this is equivalent to the direct approach 2,4.
An important related concept, first introduced by Hill 2, is the idea of strain- and stress-concentration
tensors and . These are essentially the ratios between the average fiber strain (or stress) and
the corresponding average in the composite. More precisely,





A and B are fourth-order tensors and, in general, they must be found from a solution of the
microscopic stress or strain fields. Different micromechanics models provide different ways to
approximate A or B. Note that A and B have both the minor symmetries of a stiffness or compliance
tensor, but lack the major symmetry. That is,

Aijkl = Ajikl = Aijlk


Aijkl 6= Aklij


but in general,

For later use it will be convenient to have an alternate strain concentration tensor
the average fiber strain to the average matrix strain,

"f = A^ "m
This is related to

A by

A = A^


A^ that relates

? vf )I + vf A^ ?1


so the two forms are easily interchanged.

Using equations now in hand, one can express the average composite stiffness in terms of the
strain-concentration tensor A and the fiber and matrix properties 2. Combining eqns (1), (2), (6),
(7), (13), and (15), one obtains

f? m



The dual equation for the compliance is

S = S m + vf S f ? S m B
Equations (21) and (22) are not independent, since S = [C ] .


Hence, the strain-concentration

tensor A and the stress-concentration tensor B are not independent either. The choice of which one
to use in any instance is a matter of convenience.
To illustrate the use of the strain-concentration and stress-concentration tensors, we note that
the Voigt average corresponds to the assumption that the fiber and the matrix both experience the
same, uniform strain. Then "f = " , = , and from eqn (21) the composite modulus is




Cm + vf Cf ? Cm
vf Cf + vmCm


Recall that the Voigt average is an upper bound on the composite modulus. The Reuss average
assumes that the fiber and matrix both experience the same, uniform stress. This means that the
stress-concentration tensor B equals the unit tensor I, and from (22) the compliance is


C (x)



Figure 1: Eshelbys inclusion problem. Starting from the stress-free state (a), the inclusion undergoes a stress-free transformation strain "T (b). Fitting the inclusion and matrix back together (c)
produces the strain state "C ( ) in both the inclusion and the matrix.



S m + vf S f ? S m
vf Sf + vmSm


This represents a lower bound on the stiffness of the composite.


3.1 Eshelbys Equivalent Inclusion

A fundamental result used in several different models is Eshelbys equivalent inclusion 5,6. Eshelby
solved for the elastic stress field in and around an ellipsoidal particle in an infinite matrix. By letting
the particle be a prolate ellipsoid of revolution, one can use Eshelbys result to model the stress
and strain fields around a cylindrical fiber.
Eshelby first posed and solved a different problem, that of a homogeneous inclusion (Fig. 1).
Consider an infinite solid body with stiffness m that is initially stress-free. All subsequent strains
will be measured from this state. A particular small region of the body will be called the inclusion,
and the rest of the body will be called the matrix. Suppose that the inclusion undergoes some type
of transformation such that, if it were a separate body, it would acquire a uniform strain "T with
no surface traction or stress. "T is called the transformation strain, or the eigenstrain. This strain
might be acquired through a phase transformation, or by a combination of a temperature change
and a different thermal expansion coefficient in the inclusion. In fact the inclusion is bonded to the
matrix, so when the transformation occurs the whole body develops some complicated strain field
"C ( ) relative to its shape before the transformation. Within the matrix the stress m is simply the
stiffness times this strain,





Figure 2: Eshelbys equivalent inclusion problem. The inclusion (a) with transformation strain
"T has the same stress I and strain as the inhomogeneity (b) when both bodies are subject to a
far-field strain "A

m(x) = Cm"C (x)


but within the inclusion the transformation strain does not contribute to the stress, so the inclusion
stress is

 I = m "C ? "T

The key result of Eshelby was to show that within an ellipsoidal inclusion the strain "C is uniform,
and is related to the transformation strain by

"C = E"T


E is called Eshelbys tensor, and it depends only on the inclusion aspect ratio and the matrix elastic

constants. A detailed derivation and applications are given by Mura 7 , and analytical expressions
for Eshelbys tensor for an ellipsoid of revolution in an isotropic matrix appear in many papers 812 .
The strain field "C ( ) in the matrix is highly non-uniform 13, but this more complicated part of the
solution can often be ignored.
The second step in Eshelbys approach is to demonstrate an equivalence between the homogeneous inclusion problem and an inhomogeneous inclusion of the same shape. Consider two infinite
bodies of matrix, as shown in Fig. 2. One has a homogeneous inclusion with some transformation
strain "T ; the other has an inclusion with a different stiffness f , but no transformation strain.
Subject both bodies to a uniform applied strain "A at infinity. We wish to find the transformation
strain "T that gives the two problems the same stress and strain distributions.
For the first problem the inclusion stress is just eqn (26) with the applied strain added,

I = m "A + "C ? "T

while the second problem has no "T but a different stiffness, giving a stress of

I = f "A + "C


Equating these two expressions gives the transformation strain that makes the two problems equivalent. Using eqn (27) and some rearrangement, the result is



? m + f ? m " T = f ? m "A



Note that "T is proportional to "A , which makes the stress in the equivalent inhomogeneity proportional to the applied strain.

3.2 Dilute Eshelby Model

One can use Eshelbys result to find the stiffness of a composite with ellipsoidal fibers at dilute
concentrations. Recall from eqn (21) that to find the stiffness one only has to find the strainconcentration tensor A. To do this, first note that for a dilute composite the average strain is identical to the applied strain,

" = "A


since this is the strain at infinity. Also, from Eshelby, the fiber strain is uniform, and is given by

" f = " A + "C


where the right-hand side is evaluated within the fiber. Now write the equivalence between the
stresses in the homogeneous and the inhomogeneous inclusions, eqns (28) and (29),

f "A + "C = m "A + "C ? "T

then use eqns (27), (31) and (32) to eliminate "T , "A and "C from this equation, giving

m f ? m "f = "



Comparing this to eqn (15) shows that the strain-concentration tensor for Eshelbys equivalent
inclusion is

Eshelby = +
m f ? m ?1


This can be used in eqn (21) to predict the moduli of aligned-fiber composites, a result first developed by Russel 14 . Calculations using this model to explore the effects of particle aspect ratio on
stiffness are presented by Chow 15.
While Eshelbys solution treats only ellipsoidal fibers, the fibers in most short-fiber composites
are much better approximated as right circular cylinders. The relationship between ellipsoidal and
cylindrical particles was considered by Steif and Hoysan 16, who developed a very accurate finite
element technique for determining the stiffening effect of a single fiber of given shape. For very
short particles, `=d = 4, they found reasonable agreement for E11 by letting the cylinder and the
ellipsoid have the same `=d. The ellipsoidal particle gave a slightly stiffer composite, with the

difference between the two results increasing as the modulus ratio Ef =Em increased. Henceforth
we will use the cylinder aspect ratio in place of the ellipsoid aspect ratio in Eshelby-type models.
Because Eshelbys solution only applies to a single particle surrounded by an infinite matrix,
Eshelby is independent of fiber volume fraction and the stiffness predicted by this model increases
linearly with fiber volume fraction. Modulus predictions based on eqns (35) and (21) should be
accurate only at low volume fractions, say up to vf of 1%. The more difficult problem is to find
some way to include interactions between fibers in the model, and so produce accurate results at
higher volume fractions. We next consider approaches for doing that.

3.3 Mori-Tanaka Model

A family of models for non-dilute composite materials has evolved from a proposal originally made
by Mori and Tanaka 17 . Benveniste 18 has provided a particularly simple and clear explanation of
the Mori-Tanaka approach, which we use here to introduce the approach.
We have already introduced the strain-concentration tensor in eqn (15). Suppose that a composite is to be made of a certain type of reinforcing particle, and that, for a single particle in an
infinite matrix, we know the dilute strain-concentration tensor Eshelby,

"f = AEshelby"


The Mori-Tanaka assumption is that, when many identical particles are introduced in the composite, the average fiber strain is given by

"f = AEshelby"m


That is, within a concentrated composite each particle sees a far-field strain equal to the average
strain in the matrix. Using the alternate strain concentrator defined in eqn (19), the Mori-Tanaka
assumption can be re-stated as
^ MT = Eshelby

Equation (20) then gives the Mori-Tanaka strain concentrator as

MT = Eshelby (1 ? v ) + v Eshelby ?1


This is the basic equation for implementing a Mori-Tanaka model.

The Mori-Tanaka approach for modeling composites was first introduced by Wakashima, Otsuka and Umekawa 19 for modeling thermal expansions of composites with aligned ellipsoidal
inclusions. (Mori and Tanakas paper 17 treats only the homogeneous inclusion problem, and says
nothing about composites). Mori-Tanaka predictions for the longitudinal modulus of a short-fiber
composite were first developed by Taya and Mura 8 and Taya and Chou 9 , whose work also included
the effects of cracks and of a second type of reinforcement. Weng 20 generalized their method, and
Tandon and Weng 11 used the Mori-Tanaka approach to develop equations for the complete set of
elastic constants of a short-fiber composite. Tandon and Wengs equations for the plane-strain bulk
modulus k23 and the major Poisson ratio 12 must be solved iteratively. However, this iteration can
be avoided by using an alterate formula for 12; details are given in Appendix A.
The usual development of the Mori-Tanaka model 8,9,11 differs somewhat from Benvenistes

explanation. For an average applied stress

homogeneous body of matrix at this stress,

 , the reference strain "0 is defined as the strain in a

 = Cm "0


Within the composite the average matrix strain differs from the reference strain by some perturbam
~ ,
tion "
"m = "0 + "~m
~ , such that
A fiber in the composite will have an additional strain perturbation "

"f = "0 + "~m + "~f


while the equivalent inclusion will have this strain plus the transformation strain "T . The stress
equivalence between the inclusion and the fiber then becomes

f "0 + "~m + "~f = m "0 + "~m + "~f ? "T

Compare this to the dilute version, eqn (33), noting that "A in the dilute problem is equivalent to
~ ) here. The development is completed by assuming that the extra fiber perturbation is
("0 + "
related to the transformation strain by Eshelbys tensor,

"~f = E"T


Combining this with eqns (41) and (42) reveals that eqn (44) contains the essential Mori-Tanaka
assumption: the fiber in a concentrated composite sees the average strain of the matrix.
Some other micromechanics models are equivalent to the Mori-Tanaka approach, though this
equivalence has not always been recognized. Chow 21 considered Eshelbys inclusion problem and
conjectured that in a concentrated composite the inclusion strain would be the sum of two terms:
the dilute result given by Eshelby (27) and the average strain in the matrix.

"C )f = E"T + ("C )m


This can be combined with the definition of the average strain from eqn (7) to relate the inclusion
strain ("C )f to the transformation strain "T :

"C )f = (1 ? vf )E"T


Chow then extended this result to an inhomogeneity following the usual arguments, eqns (28) to
(35). This produces a strain-concentration tensor

Chow = + (1 ? v ) m f ? m ?1


which is equivalent to the Mori-Tanaka result (39). Chow was apparently unaware of the connection between his approach and the Mori-Tanaka scheme, but he seems to have been the first to
apply the Mori-Tanaka approach to predict the stiffness of short-fiber composites.
A more recent development is the equivalent poly-inclusion model of Ferrari 22. Rather than

use the strain-concentration tensor , Ferrari used an effective Eshelby tensor ^ , defined as the
tensor that relates inclusion strain to transformation strain at finite volume fraction:

"C )f = E^ "T


and a
Once ^ has been defined, it is straightforward to derive a strain-concentration tensor
composite modulus.
Ferrari considered admissible forms for ^ , given the requirements that ^ must (a) produce a
symmetric stiffness tensor , (b) approach Eshelbys tensor as volume fraction approaches zero,
and (c) give a composite stiffness that is independent of the matrix stiffness as volume fraction
approaches unity. He proposed a simple form that satisfies these criteria,

E^ = (1 ? vf )E


The combination of eqns (48) and (49) is identical to Chows assumption (46) and, for aligned
fibers of uniform length, Ferraris equivalent poly-inclusion model, Chows model, and the MoriTanaka model are identical. Important differences between the equivalent poly-inclusion model
and the Mori-Tanaka model arise when the fibers are misoriented or have different lengths, a topic
that will be addressed in a subsequent paper 1 .

3.4 Self-Consistent Models

A second approach to account for finite fiber volume fraction is the self-consistent method. This
approach is generally credited to Hill 23 and Budiansky 24 , whose original work focused on spherical
particles and continuous, aligned fibers. The application to short-fiber composites was developed
by Laws and McLaughlin 25 and by Chou, Nomura and Taya 26 .
In the self-consistent scheme one finds the properties of a composite in which a single particle
is embedded in an infinite matrix that has the average properties of the composite. For this reason,
self-consistent models are also called embedding models.
Again building on Eshelbys result for a ellipsoidal particle, we can create a self-consistent
version of eqn (35) by replacing the matrix stiffness and compliance tensors by the corresponding
properties of the composite. This gives the self-consistent strain-concentration tensor as

SC = +


Of course the properties and of the embedding matrix are initially unknown. When the reinforcing particle is a sphere or an infinite cylinder, the equations can be manipulated algebraically
to find explicit expressions for the overall properties 23,24. For short fibers this has not proved possible, but numerical solutions are easily obtained by an iterative scheme. One starts with an initial
guess at the composite properties, evaluates and then SC from eqn (50), and substitutes the
result into eqn (21) to get an improved value for the composite stiffness. The procedure is repeated
using this new value, and the iterations continue until the results for converge.
An additional, but less obvious, change is that Eshelbys tensor depends on the matrix
properties, which are now transversely isotropic. Expressions for Eshelbys tensor for an ellipsoid
of revolution in a transversely isotropic matrix are given by Chou, Nomura and Taya 27 and by Lin


and Mura 28. With these expressions in hand one can use eqn (50) together with (21) to find the
stiffness of the composite. This is the self-consistent approach used for short-fiber composites 25,26 .
A closely-related approach, called the generalized self-consistent model, also uses an embedding approach. However, in these models the embedded object comprises both fiber and matrix
material. When the composite has spherical reinforcing particles, the embedded object is a sphere
of the reinforcement encased in a concentric spherical shell of matrix; this is in turn surrounded
by an infinite body with the average composite properties. The generalized self-consistent model
is sometimes referred to as a double embedding approach. For continuous fibers the embedded
object is a cylindrical fiber surrounded by a cylindrical shell of matrix. The first generalized selfconsistent models were developed for spherical particles by Kerner 29, and for cylindrical fibers
by Hermans 30. Both of these papers contain an error, which is discussed and corrected by Christensen and Lo 31 . While the generalized self-consistent model is widely regarded as superior to the
original self-consistent approach, no such model has been developed for short fibers.

3.5 Bounding Models

A rather different approach to modeling stiffness is based on finding upper and lower bounds for the
composite moduli. All bounding methods are based on assuming an approximate field for either
the stress or the strain in the composite. The unknown field is then found through a variational
principle, by minimizing or maximizing some functional of the stress and strain. The resulting
composite stiffness is not exact, but it can be guaranteed to be either greater than or less than the
actual stiffness, depending on the variational principle. This rigorous bounding property is the
attraction of bounding methods.
Historically, the Voigt and Reuss averages were the first models to be recognized as providing
rigorous upper and lower bounds 32. To derive the Voigt model, eqn (23), one assumes that the
fiber and matrix have the same uniform strain, and then minimizes the potential energy. Since
the potential energy will have an absolute minimum when the entire composite is in equilibrium,
the potential energy under the uniform strain assumption must be greater than or equal to the exact
result, and the calculated stiffness will be an upper bound on the actual stiffness. The Reuss model,
eqn (24), is derived by assuming that the fiber and matrix have the same uniform stress, and then
maximizing the complementary energy. Since the complementary energy must be maximum at
equilibrium, the model provides a lower bound on the composite stiffness. Detailed derivations of
these bounds are provided by Wu and McCullough 33.
The Voigt and Reuss bounds provide isotropic results (provided the fiber and matrix are themselves isotropic), when in fact we expect aligned-fiber composites to be highly anisotropic. More
importantly, when the fiber and matrix have substantially different stiffnesses then the Voigt and
Reuss bounds are quite far apart, and provide little useful information about the actual composite
stiffness. This latter point motivated Hashin and Shtrikman to develop a way to construct tighter
Hashin and Shtrikman developed an alternate variational principle for heterogeneous materials
. Their method introduces a reference material, and bases the subsequent development on the
differences between this reference material and the actual composite. Rather than requiring two
variational principles, like the Voigt and Reuss bounds, their single variational principle gives both
the upper and lower bounds by making appropriate choices of the reference material. For an upper

bound the reference material must be as stiff or stiffer than any phase in the composite (fiber or
matrix), and for a lower bound the reference material must have a stiffness less than or equal to
any phase. In most composites the fiber is stiffer than the matrix, so choosing the fiber as the
reference material gives an upper bound and choosing the matrix as the reference material gives a
lower bound. If the matrix is stiffer than the fiber, the bounds are reversed. The resulting bounds
are tighter than the Voigt and Reuss bounds, which can be obtained from the Hashin-Shtrikman
theory by giving the reference material infinite or zero stiffness, respectively.
Hashin and Shtrikmans original bounds 35 apply to isotropic composites with isotropic constituents. Frequently the bounds are regarded as applying to composites with spherical particles,
though a fiber composite with 3-D random fiber orientation must also obey the bounds.
Walpole re-derived the Hashin-Shtrikman bounds using classical energy principles 36, and extended them to anisotropic materials 37. Walpole also derived results for infinitely long fibers and
infinitely thin disks in both aligned and 3-D random orientations 38.
The Hashin-Shtrikman-Walpole bounds were extended to short-fiber composites by Willis 39
and by Wu and McCullough 33. These workers introduced a two-point correlation function into the
bounding scheme, allowing aligned ellipsoidal particles to be treated. Based on these extensions,
explicit formulae for aligned ellipsoids were developed by Weng 40 and by Eduljee et al. 41,42.
The general bounding formula, shown here in the format developed by Weng, gives the composite stiffness as


C = vf Cf Qf + vmCm Qm vf Qf + vmQm ?1
where the tensors Qf and Qm are defined as
Qf = I + E0S0(Cf ? C0 ) ?1 and Qm = I + E0S0(Cm ? C0) ?1 (52)
Here E0 is Eshelbys tensor associated with the properties of the reference material, which has
stiffness C0 and compliance S0 .
When the matrix is chosen as the reference material, eqn (51) gives a strain concentrator of
m m ( f ? m ) ?1
^ lower =


This result is labeled here as the lower bound, on the presumption that the fiber is stiffer than the
matrix. The composite stiffness is found by substituting ^ lower into eqns (20) and (21). Eduljee
and McCullough 41,42 argue that the lower bound provides the most accurate estimate of composite
properties, and recommend it as a model. Note that this lower bound prediction is identical to
the Mori-Tanaka model, eqn (39) 20,40. This correspondence lends theoretical support to the MoriTanaka approach, and guarantees that it will always obey the bounds.
The other bound, found by using eqn (51) with the fiber as the reference material, has a strain
concentrator of
f f( m ? f)
^ upper =


Note that the Eshelby tensor f is now computed for inclusions of matrix material surrounded by
the fiber material. Equation (54) is labeled as the upper bound, presuming that the fiber is stiffer
than the matrix. An identical result can be obtained from the Mori-Tanaka theory by assuming

that ellipsoidal particles of the matrix material are embedded in a continuous phase of the fiber
If the matrix is stiffer than the fibers, then the right-hand sides of eqns (53) and (54) are unchanged but eqn (53) becomes the upper bound and eqn (54) becomes the lower bound. All of
the preceding bounding formulae have been given for two-component composites, but the theory
readily accommodates multiple reinforcements.
At fiber volume fractions close to unity, the matrix stiffness strongly influences the composite
stiffness for the lower bound/Mori-Tanaka models, despite the tiny amount of it that is present.
Packing considerations suggest that the only way to approach such high volume fractions is for
the fiber phase to become continuous, and Lielens et al. 43 suggest that at very high fiber volume
fractions the composite stiffness should be much closer to the upper bound, or equivalently to the
Mori-Tanaka prediction using the fiber as the continuous phase. This insight prompted Lielens and
co-workers to propose a model that interpolates between the upper and lower bounds, such that the
lower bound dominates at low volume fractions and the upper bound dominates at high volume
fractions (again presuming the fiber is the stiffer phase). They perform this interpolation on the
inverse of the strain-concentration tensor ^ , producing the predictive equation 43
^ Lielens = (1 ? f )[ ^ lower ]?1 + f [ ^ upper]?1

The interpolating factor f depends on fiber volume fraction, and they propose


vf + vf2


This theory reproduces the lower bound and Mori-Tanaka results at low volume fractions, but is
said to give improved results at reinforcement volume fractions in the 40 to 60% range.

3.6 Halpin-Tsai Equations

The Halpin-Tsai equations 44,45 have long been popular for predicting the properties of short-fiber
composites. A detailed review and derivation is provided by Halpin and Kardos 46, from which we
summarize the main points.
The Halpin-Tsai equations were originally developed with continuous-fiber composites in mind,
and were derived from the work of Hermans 30 and Hill 47. Hermans developed the first generalized
self-consistent model for a composite with continuous aligned fibers (see Section 3.4). Halpin and
Tsai found that three of Hermans equations for stiffness could be expressed in a common form:


1 ? vf



=Pm ) ? 1
 = ((PPf =P


Here P represents any one of the composite moduli listed in Table 1, and Pf and Pm are the
corresponding moduli of the fibers and matrix, while  is a parameter that depends on the matrix
Poisson ratio and on the particular elastic property being considered. Hermans derived expressions
for the plane-strain bulk modulus k23 , and for the longitudinal and transverse shear moduli G12 and
G23. The  parameters for these properties are given in Table 1. Note that for an isotropic matrix

Table 1: Correspondence between Halpin-Tsai equation (57) and generalized self-consistent predictions of Hermans 30 and Kerner 29. After Halpin and Kardos 46.




1?m ?2m2
3?m ?4m2

2(1?2m )

plane strain bulk modulus, aligned fibers
transverse shear modulus, aligned fibers
longitudinal shear modulus, aligned fibers
bulk modulus, particulates
shear modulus, particulates

km = 2(1+mE)(1m ?2m) .

Hill 47 showed that for a continuous, aligned-fiber composite the remaining stiffness parameters
are given by


E11 = vf Ef + vmEm ?4 4 1 ? 1 5 k ? k ? k
kf km


12 = vf f + vmm + 4 1 ? 1 5 k ? k ? k
kf km
This completes Hermans model for aligned-fiber composites; note that one must know k23 to find
E11 and 12. We now know that Hermans result for G23 is incorrect, in that it does not satisfy all
of the fiber/matrix continuity conditions 3. It is, however, identical to a lower bound on G23 derived

by Hashin 48 . Hermans remaining results are identical to Hashin and Rosens composite cylinders
assemblage model 49, so Hermans k23, and thus his E11 and 12, are identical to the self-consistent
results of Hill 23.
The Halpin-Tsai form (57) can also be used to express equations for particulate composites
derived by Kerner 29, who also used a generalized self-consistent model. Table 1 gives the details.
Kerners result for shear modulus G is also known to be incorrect, but reproduces the HashinShtrikman-Walpole lower bound for isotropic composites, while Kerners result for bulk modulus
K is identical to Hashins composite spheres assemblage model 50. See Christensen and Lo 31 and
Hashin 3 for further discussion of Kerners and Hermans results.
To transform these results into convenient forms for continuous-fiber composites, Halpin and
Tsai made three additional ad hoc approximations:

Equation (57) can be used directly to calculate selected engineering constants, with E11 or
E22 replacing P .

The  parameters in Table 1 are insensitive to m , and can be approximated by constant


The underlined terms in eqns (58) and (59) can be neglected.


Table 2: Traditional Halpin-Tsai parameters for short-fiber composites, used in eqn (57). For G23
see Table 1.





longitudinal modulus

transverse modulus

longitudinal shear modulus

Poisson ratio, = vf f

vm m

In eqn (58) the underlined term is typically negligible, and dropping it gives the familiar rule
of mixtures for E11 of a continuous-fiber composite. However, dropping the underlined term in
eqn (59) and using a rule of mixtures for 12 is not necessarily accurate if the fiber and matrix
Poisson ratios differ. Halpin and Tsai argue for this latter approximation on the grounds that
laminate stiffnesses are insensitive to 12.
In adapting their approach to short-fiber composites, Halpin and Tsai noted that  must lie
between 0 and 1. If  = 0 then eqn (57) reduces to the inverse rule of mixtures 46,

while for 




1 the Halpin-Tsai form becomes the rule of mixtures,

P = vf Pf + vmPm


Halpin and Tsai suggested that  was correlated with the geometry of the reinforcement and, when
calculating E11 , it should vary from some small value to infinity as a function of the fiber aspect
ratio `=d. By comparing model predictions with available 2-D finite element results, they found
that  = 2(`=d) gave good predictions for E11 of short-fiber systems. Also, they suggested that
other engineering constants of short-fiber composites were only weakly dependent on fiber aspect
ratio, and could be approximated using the continuous-fiber formulae 45. The resulting equations
are summarized in Table 2. The early references 44,45 do not mention G23 . When this property is
needed the usual approach is to use the  value given in Table 1. While the Halpin-Tsai equations
have been widely used for isotropic fiber materials, the underlying results of Hermans and Hill
apply to transversely isotropic fibers, so the Halpin-Tsai equations can also be used in this case.
The Halpin-Tsai equations are known to fit some data very well at low volume fractions, but to
under-predict some stiffnesses at high volume fractions. This has prompted some modifications to
their model. Hewitt and de Malherbe 51 proposed making  a function of vf , and by curve fitting
found that
 = 1 + 40vf10
gave good agreement with 2-D finite element results for G12 of continuous fiber composites.
Nielsen and Lewis 52,53 focused on the analogy between the stiffness G of a composite and the
viscosity  of a suspension of rigid particles in a Newtonian fluid, noting that one should find

=m = G=Gm when the reinforcement is rigid (Gf =Gm ! 1) and the matrix is incompressible.

They developed an equation in which the stiffness not only matches dilute theory at low volume
fractions, but also displays G=Gm ! 1 as vf approaches a packing limit vf max. This leads to a
modified Halpin-Tsai form
P = 1 + vf
Pm 1 ? (vf ) vf

with  retaining its definition from eqn (57). Here the function (vf ) contains the maximum
volume fraction vf max as a parameter.
is chosen to give the proper behavior at the upper and
lower volume fraction limits, which leads to forms such as
1 ? vf max
(vf ) = 1 +
vf2max vf
(vf ) =
vf 1 ? exp 1 ? (vf =vf max)
The Nielsen and Lewis model improves on the Halpin-Tsai predictions, compared to experimental data for G of particle-reinforced polymers 52 and to finite element calculations for G12 of
continuous-fiber composites 53 , using vf max values from 0.40 to 0.85.
Recently Ingber and Papathanasiou 54 tested the Halpin-Tsai equation and its modifications
against boundary element calculations of E11 for aligned short fibers. They found the Nielsen
modification to be better than the original Halpin-Tsai form. Hewitt and de Malherbes form could
be adjusted to fit data for any single `=d, but was not useful for predictions over a range of aspect
ratios. These results are discussed further in Section 4.

3.7 Shear Lag Models

Historically, shear lag models were the first micromechanics models for short-fiber composites
, as well as the first to examine behavior near the ends of broken fibers in a continuous-fiber
composite 56,57. Despite some serious theoretical flaws, shear lag models have enjoyed enduring
popularity, perhaps due to their algebraic simplicity and their physical appeal.
Classical shear lag models only predict the longitudinal modulus E11 , so they do not meet
our criterion of predicting a complete set of elastic constants. However, we include them here
because of their historical importance and their widespread use. One could obtain a complete
stiffness model by using the shear lag prediction for E11 and some continuous-fiber model (such
as Hermans) for the remaining elastic constants. If the fiber is anisotropic then its axial modulus
should be used in the shear lag equations.
Following Cox 55, the shear lag analysis focuses on a single fiber of length ` and radius rf ,
which is encased in a concentric cylindrical shell of matrix having radius R. The fiber is aligned
parallel to the z axis, as shown in Fig. 3. Only the axial stress 11 and axial strain "11 are of interest,
f = E "f . The outer cylindrical surface of the matrix
and Poisson effects are neglected so that 11
f 11
is subjected to displacement boundary conditions consistent with an average axial strain "11, and
f (z ). (More rigorously,  f (z ) is the average stress over the fiber
one solves for the fiber stress 11




Figure 3: Idealized fiber and matrix geometry used in shear lag models.
cross-section at z .) Axial equilibrium of the fiber requires that

d11f = ? 2rz


where rz is the axial shear stress at the fiber surface. The key assumption of shear lag theory is
that rz is proportional to the difference in displacement w between the fiber surface and the outer
matrix surface:
H [w(R; z) ? w(r ; z)]
rz (z) = 2r
where H is a constant that depends on matrix properties and fiber volume fraction. Solving eqn (66)
f (z ) and applying boundary conditions of zero stress at the fiber ends gives an average fiber
for 11
stress of
tanh( `=2)
11 = Ef "11 1 ?



2 = rH2 E
f f


It is convenient to rewrite this as an expression for the average fiber strain,

"f11 = `"11
where ` is a length-dependent efficiency factor,

` =

( `=2)



Note that ` is a scalar analog of the strain-concentration tensor defined in eqn (15), and (1= )
is a characteristic length for stress transfer between the fiber and the matrix.

Table 3: Values for KR used in eqn (74) for shear lag models.
Fiber packing
Composite Cylinders


p KR

=2 3



Cox 55 found the coefficient H by solving a second idealized problem. The concentric cylinder
geometry is maintained, but the outer cylindrical surface of the matrix is held stationary and the
inner cylinder, which is now rigid, is subjected to a uniform axial displacement. An elasticity
solution for the matrix layer then gives

H = ln(2G
R=r )


Rosen 56,57 simplified this part of the problem by assuming that the matrix shell was thin compared
to the fiber radius, (R ? rf )  rf , obtaining
H = (R=r


Rosens approximation gives an error in H of 10% at vf = 0:60, with much larger errors at lower
volume fractions, and we will not consider it further.
It remains to choose the radius R of the matrix cylinder, and the exact choice is important.
Several choices have been used, all of which can be written in the form
R = KR
where KR is a constant that depends on the assumption used to find R. Table 3 summarizes the
choices for KR . Cox 55 assumed a hexagonal packing, and chose R as the distance between centers
of nearest-neighbor fibers (Fig. 4a). It seems more realistic to let R equal half of the distance
between nearest neighbors (Fig. 4b), a choice labeled hexagonal in Table 3. Rosen 56,57 , and later
Carman and Reifsnider 58, chose rf2 =R2 = vf so that the concentric cylinder model in Fig. 3 would
have the same fiber volume fraction as the composite. This is the same R as the composite cylinders
model of Hashin and Rosen 49 . More recently, Robinson and Robinson 59,60 assumed a square array
of fibers, and chose R as half the distance between centers of nearest neighbors (Fig. 4c) 61. Each
of these choices gives a somewhat different dependence of ` on fiber volume fraction, with larger
values of KR producing lower values of E11.
Shear lag models are usually completed by combining the average fiber stress in eqn (68) with
an average matrix stress to produce a modified rule of mixtures for the axial modulus:

E11 = ` vf Ef + (1 ? vf )Em






Figure 4: Fiber packing arrangements used to find R in shear lag models. (a) Cox. (b) Hexagonal.
(c) Square.
However, the matrix stress in this formula is not consistent with the basic concepts of average
stress and average strain. Note that eqn (7) must hold for "11, as for any other component of strain.
Combining this with eqn (70) to find the average matrix strain, and following through to find the
composite stiffness (with Poisson effects neglected), gives a result that is consistent with both the
assumptions of shear lag theory and the basic concepts of average stress and strain:



`vf Ef + (1 ? `vf )Em

Em + vf (Ef ? Em)`


This equation is an exact scalar analog of the general tensorial stiffness formula, eqn (21). For the
cases in this paper, the difference between eqns (75) and (76) is small, and we will use the classical
shear lag result (75) when testing the models.
A model by Fukuda and Kawata 62 for the axial stiffness of aligned short-fiber composites is
closely related to shear lag theory. They begin with a 2-D elasticity solution for the shear stress
around a single slender fiber in an infinite matrix. The usual shear lag relation, eqn (66), is used
to transform this into an equation for the fiber stress distribution, which is then approximated by
a Fourier series. The coefficients of a truncated series are evaluated analytically using Galerkins
method. This is a dilute theory, in which modulus varies linearly with fiber volume fraction.
Like any shear lag theory, Fukuda and Kawatas theory predicts that E11 approaches the rule
of mixtures result as the fiber aspect ratio approaches infinity. But for short fibers Fukuda and
Kawatas theory gives much lower E11 values than shear lag theory. In Fukuda and Kawatas
theory, the ratio of fiber strain to matrix strain is governed by the parameter (`=d)(Em =Ef ). In
q for shear lag theory, eqn (71), the governing parameter is `=2, which is proportional to
(`=d) Em =Ef . Thus, for high modulus ratio and low aspect ratio, Fukuda and Kawatas theory
tends to underpredict E11. For this reason we do not pursue their theory further.


Table 4: Models selected for comparison.

Shear Lag

eqn (57) and Table 2
eqns (63), (64), (57b) and Table 2
eqns (39), (35), and (21)
eqns (55), (56), (53), (54), (20), and (21)
eqns (50) and (21)
eqns (75), (71), (69), (72), (74), and Table 3

Tests and Comparisons

Obtaining reference data for unidirectional short-fiber composites presents a problem. Accurate
experimental data is not available, since it has not proved possible to produce physical samples with
perfectly aligned fibers. The best that can be done experimentally is to make samples with partially
aligned fibers, though even in those samples the fibers may be clustered or bundled together in
some unspecified way 42. Any comparison between the properties of such samples and predictions
necessarily includes both the model for aligned-fiber composites and the model for fiber orientation
In this paper we avoid this complication by using three-dimensional finite element models
of aligned short-fiber composites, rather than experimental results, as the reference data. This
necessitates the assumption of a periodic arrangement of the fibers, but all of the micromechanics
models are sufficiently vague about the geometric arrangement of the fibers that they admit periodic
geometries. We also compare the theories to some boundary element results for random arrays of
aligned fibers 54.
For clarity we limit our comparisons to the models listed in Table 4. For the shear lag model we
show results only for the square array, noting that this choice for R gives the highest stiffness. The
models which are not shown are: the dilute Eshelby model, which is limited to small volume fractions; the Hashin-Shtrikman-Walpole lower bound, which is identical to the Mori-Tanaka model;
and the upper bound, which is not claimed to be useful by itself.

4.1 Finite Element Modeling

Using the finite element method we analyzed two types of periodic, three-dimensional arrays of
fibers, which we call regular and staggered arrays. The representative volume elements (RVEs)
are shown in Fig. 5. The unit cell dimensions were chosen
p with b = a, where is a constant. We
used both = 1 to obtain square packing, and = 3 which gives hexagonal packing. For the
regular fibers the distance between neighboring fiber ends (equal to 2c ? ` in Fig. 5a) was set to
0:538` for square packing and 0:136` for hexagonal packing. For the staggered arrays the distance
along each fiber that is overlapped by neighboring fibers was set at a fixed percentage of the fiber
length: 65% for square packing and 76% for hexagonal packing. These conditions, together with
the fiber diameter and volume fraction, suffice to determine the dimensions a, b and c for each

Table 5: Material properties used in finite element calculations.




1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 24, 48

RVE. Note that a new RVE and its corresponding 3-D mesh are generated for each fiber aspect
Stiffnesses of these RVEs were calculated using ABAQUS 63 . Twenty-node isoparametric elements were used, and a sample mesh is shown in Fig. 6. The analysis was geometrically nonlinear
but the applied strain was 0.5%, so the results are in the region of linear behavior. For axial or
transverse loading, symmetry requires all faces of the RVE to remain plane. To determine E11 and
12 we fixed the normal displacements of the back, left, and bottom faces of the RVE; required
the right and top faces to remain plane and parallel to the coordinate axes (using multi-point constraints); and displaced the front face uniformly in the x1 direction. The tangential displacements
on all faces were unconstrained. The average stress was computed from the reaction force in the
loading direction, divided by the cross-sectional area of the RVE. Average strains were computed
from the initial and deformed dimensions of the RVE. Analogous conditions were use to load the
RVE in the x2 direction to determine E22 and 23 . The longitudinal shear modulus G12 could
in principle be determined using these same RVEs, but that calculation requires a complicated
application of periodic boundary conditions and we did not undertake it.
All of the micromechanics theories reviewed here predict transversely isotropic properties.
Transverse isotropy about the x1 axis implies that the tensile modulus is the same for any loading
direction in the 23 plane. This not only requires that E22 = E33 , but also that


E22 (1 + 23)


RVEs with hexagonal packing should also be transversely isotropic and obey these same relationships. However, for square packing the properties are only guaranteed to be orthotropic. That is,
calculations for square packing will always give E22 = E33 , but the results will not necessarily
obey eqn (77) nor will the transverse modulus necessarily be the same for other loading directions
in the 23 plane. Here we simply report 23 and E22 for loading in the x2 direction, and do not
explore the other orthotropic constants for square packing.
The material properties used in the finite element calculations (Table 5) are typical of fiberreinforced engineering thermoplastics. All of the moduli are scaled by the matrix modulus.

4.2 Results and Discussion

Figure 7 compares the theoretical and finite element results for longitudinal modulus E11. The
strong influence of fiber aspect ratio on E11 is apparent, and all of the theories exhibit a similar






Figure 5: Representative volume elements used in the finite element calculations. (a) Regular
array; the bold lines show the RVE. (b) Staggered array.

Figure 6: Example finite element mesh for a staggered, hexagonal array.



Modulus Ratio, E11/Em


Shear lag, square
FE, Sqr. Reg.
FE, Sqr. Stag.
FE, Hex. Reg.
FE, Hex. Stag.



Aspect Ratio, l/d


Figure 7: Theoretical predictions and finite element results for E11 .

S-shaped curve, asymptoting to the same rule-of-mixtures value at high aspect ratio. However, the
various theories give quite different values for very short fibers, and rise at different rates.
The different packing arrangements create some scatter in the finite element results, but the
scatter is small for `=d  8. For `=d  4 the scatter is significant. This is not surprising, since
the properties of particulate-reinforced composites are known to be very sensitive to the packing
arrangement. The high E11 values for the hexagonal staggered array probably occur because our
rules for forming this particular type of RVE tend to create long chains of nearly-touching particles parallel to the x1 axis, with a high degree of axial overlap. While all of the finite element
results are equally true, we believe the lower finite element values are more representative of the
actual packing and the actual stiffness of composites with very short fibers.
Comparing models to finite element data for E11, the Halpin-Tsai equation is accurate for very
short fibers, but falls below the data for longer fibers. The Nielsen model improves on the HalpinTsai predictions for the very short fibers, but is still below the data for longer fibers. A better fit in
the higher aspect ratio range is provided by the Mori-Tanaka and Lielens models, which are only
slightly different from one another at this volume fraction. These models are good over most of
the data range. The self-consistent results are usually high, while the shear lag model is good for
the longer fibers but too low for very short fibers. This latter behavior is not surprising, since shear
lag theory treats the fiber as a slender body. Using any of the other values for R in the shear lag
model shifts the curve to the right, moving the predictions away from the data.
Results for transverse modulus E22 are shown in Fig. 8. The finite element data again have
moderate scatter. Fiber aspect ratio has little effect on the transverse modulus, though some of
the packing geometries show a slight dip at low aspect ratio. Interestingly, the shape and location

Modulus Ratio, E22/Em






Sqr. Reg.
Sqr. Stag.
Hex. Reg.
Hex. Stag.



Aspect Ratio, l/d


Figure 8: Theoretical predictions and finite element results for E22 .

of this dip are matched by the models that use the Eshelby tensor. Note that the Halpin-Tsai and
Nielsen models contain no dependence on aspect ratio for E22 . Shear lag models do not predict
Most of the models do a good job of predicting E22, with the Mori-Tanaka and Lielens models
being the most accurate. The Halpin-Tsai result is slightly higher than most of the data, while the
Nielsen model noticeably over-predicts this property. For comparison the upper bound result falls
well above the data, with an asymptote of E22 =Em = 3:59 at high aspect ratio.
Data for the Poisson ratios 12 and 23 appear in Figs. 9 and 10. The Nielsen and Halpin-Tsai
results for 12 are identical, so only the Halpin-Tsai curve is shown. Both Poisson ratios show
a moderate dependence on aspect ratio and some sensitivity to packing geometry. The shape of
this dependence is similar for all but the regular hexagon array and is matched qualitatively by
several models, but the quantitative match is not as good. For 12 the constant value provided by
the Halpin-Tsai equations is at least as good a match to the data as the models that show some
variation. However, the Halpin-Tsai and Nielsen models substantially over-predict 23 , while the
other models do very well on this property, especially at the higher aspect ratios. The error in the
Halpin-Tsai value results from a combination of a slightly high prediction for E22 (Fig. 8) and a
slightly low prediction for G23 (not shown here), the effects combining through eqn (77).
One weakness of the finite element calculations is that they require the assumption of a regular,
periodic packing arrangement of the fibers. Calculations that do not have this limitation have
been recently reported by Ingber and Papathanasiou 54 . These workers used the boundary element
method to calculate E11 for random arrays of aligned fibers. Each model typically contained 100
fibers, and results from ten such models were averaged to produce each data point. We tested


Poisson Ratio, 12



FE, Sqr. Reg.
FE, Sqr. Stag.
FE, Hex. Reg.
FE, Hex. Stag.






Aspect Ratio, l/d

Figure 9: Theoretical predictions and finite element results for 12 .


Poisson Ratio, 23


FE, Sqr. Reg.
FE, Sqr. Stag.
FE, Hex. Reg.
FE, Hex. Stag.







Aspect Ratio, l/d

Figure 10: Theoretical predictions and finite element results for 23.

Modulus Ratio, E11/Em




Self Consistent
BE, random
FE, Sqr. Reg.
FE, Sqr. Stag.





Fiber Volume Fraction, vf

Figure 11: Models compared to boundary element predictions of E11 for random arrays of rigid
cylinders by Ingber and Papathanasiou 54 , and to finite element calculations with Ef =Em = 106 ,
all for `=d = 10.
their results against the various theories, and also performed a limited number of finite element
calculations for comparison purposes. The boundary element results are for rigid fibers ( Ef =Em =
1) and an incompressible matrix (m = 0:5), but our finite element calculations and theoretical
results use Ef =Em = 106 and m = 0:49 to avoid numerical difficulties in some of the models.
Figure 11 shows the results for E11 versus volume fraction for `=d = 10. The boundary element
data are most accurately matched by the Lielens and Nielsen models, though the Halpin-Tsai and
Mori-Tanaka models are not bad. The self-consistent model predicts much higher stiffnesses than
the other models and than the boundary element data. So far these results are consistent with our
previous comparisons.
What is surprising about Fig. 11 is that the finite element results fall so far above the boundary
element results, and above the theories that work so well in other cases. Since the finite element
data fall closer to the self-consistent model, it is tempting to think that they support the accuracy of
this model. But we believe it more likely that these results are revealing the sensitivity of stiffness
to the packing arrangement of the fibers.
Other researchers have noted that gathering short fibers into bundles or clusters tends to reduce
E11 compared to evenly dispersed fibers 42. In the boundary element calculations of Ingber and
Papathanasiou the inter-fiber spacing is random, and hence uneven, so there is a modest clustering
effect. In contrast, our finite element models impose a uniform inter-fiber spacing, and so represent
an unusually even dispersion of fibers. Our finite element models also maximize the axial overlap

between neighboring fibers. It seems that these geometric effects have the greatest influence on
composite stiffness when the fibers are rigid. We believe that the boundary element calculations
are more representative of real composite behavior than the finite element calculations in Fig. 11.
Fortunately the influence of fiber packing is much smaller for the Ef =Em ratios typical of
polymer-matrix composites. Note that the two different finite element results for vf = 0:20 and
rigid fibers in Fig. 11 are far apart from one another, but in Fig. 7 where Ef =Em = 30 the same
packing geometries give nearly identical results at `=d = 8. This lends support to the idea that
fiber packing is important mainly when the fibers are extremely stiff compared to the matrix, and
supports the finite element results in Figs. 710 as a meaningful test of the micromechanics theories.


Our goal is to identify the best model for predicting the stiffness of aligned short-fiber composites.
Among the models that we tested, the self-consistent approach tends to over-predict E11 at high
volume fractions, though it gives good predictions for other elastic constants. The Halpin-Tsai
model, long a standard for this problem, gives reasonable results for all the elastic constants except
23, and its E11 values are low for moderate-to-high aspect ratios. Nielsen and Lewiss modification
of Halpin-Tsai improves the fit to Ingber and Papathanasious boundary element data for E11, but
it does not substantially improve the fit to our E11 data and it substantially worsens the prediction
of E22 . The Mori-Tanaka and Lielens models give much better predictions than Halpin-Tsai for
23, and slightly better predictions for all the other properties. Our finite element data does not
allow us to choose between the Mori-Tanaka and Lielens models, since the differences between
their predictions are small for the volume fractions we examined. Shear lag models can give good
predictions for E11 for aspect ratios greater than 10, provided one makes the proper choice of R,
but the predictions for shorter fibers are too low.
Our results confirm that the Halpin-Tsai equations provide reasonable estimates for the stiffness
of short-fiber composites, but they indicate that the Mori-Tanaka model is more accurate. The
bound interpolation model of Lielens et al. may improve on the Mori-Tanaka model for higher
fiber volume fractions or modulus ratios, but for injection-molded composites the difference is
small. We recommend the Mori-Tanaka model as the best choice for estimating the stiffness of
aligned short-fiber composites.

Funding to the University of Illinois was provided by The General Electric Company and General
Motors Corporation. This work was conducted in support of the Thermoplastic Engineering Design (TED) Venture, a Department of Commerce Advanced Technology Program administered by
the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The authors are grateful to Mr. C. Matthew
Dunbar of Hibbitt, Karlsson & Sorensen, Inc. for his assistance with mesh generation and the finite
element analysis, and to Dr. T. D. Papathanasiou of the University of South Carolina for making
available the detailed data from his recent paper.


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Mori-Tanaka predictions without iteration

Tandon and Weng 11 derive explicit expressions for the elastic constants of a short-fiber composite
using the Mori-Tanaka approach. Their formulae for the plane-strain bulk modulus k23 and the
major Poisson ratio 12 are coupled, and must be solved iteratively. This appendix presents a way
to obtain the same results without iteration. For brevity we use the notation of Tandon and Wengs
paper and refer to equations from that paper by numbers like (T1).
To determine E11 an average stress  11 is applied, with all other ij = 0. The reference strains,
eqn (40), are
"011 = 11=E0 "022 = "033 = ?120 11=E0
and the average composite properties E11 and 12 are defined from





Combining eqns (79) and (80) gives the major Poisson ratio,

12 = E11 


Tandon and Weng give E11 (eqn (T25)) as

E11 =




c A1 +2A0A2

where A, A1, etc. are auxiliary constants given in their paper and c is the fiber volume fraction. We
now need to find "22 . First, eqn (T19) relates the transformation strain "22 to the reference strains,

"22 = 2A3"11 + (A4 + A5A2)A"22 + (A4 ? A5A)"33



Substitute eqn (78) into this and simplify, finding

11 (A ?  A )
"22 = AE
0 4


The average strain "22 is related to the reference strains and the transformations strain by eqn (T11):

"22 = "022 + c "22

Substitute eqns (78) and (83) into this to find

(A3 ? 0 A4)
"22 = ? E 0 ? c




Combine this with eqns (82) and (81) to get the desired result:

12 = A0A+?c(cA(A+3 ?20AA4))


0 2


Now 12 can be found using this equation instead of eqn (T37). The result is then substituted into
eqn (T36) to find k23 , and no iteration is required.