Stiffness Predictions for
Unidirectional Short-Fiber Composites:
Review and Evaluation

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Stiffness Predictions for
Unidirectional Short-Fiber Composites:
Review and Evaluation

© All Rights Reserved

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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

Abstract

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.

To

Introduction

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.

Preliminaries

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 .

1

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

f

m

C f "f

Cm " m

=

=

(1)

(2)

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 :

Z

V

(x)dV

(3)

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

that

V = Vf + Vm

(4)

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,

Z

Z

1

1

f

m

V

V

(5)

( )dV

and

( )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

(6)

(7)

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

(8)

u x

2

placement vector

result is

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

1

"ij = V

Z

The

u0i nj + ni u0j dS

(9)

S

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

(10)

"C (x)dV

=0

(11)

V

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

(12)

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"

(13)

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 C

" = S

(14)

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,

"f

f

=

=

A"

B

(15)

(16)

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,

(17)

Aijkl 6= Aklij

(18)

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^

(1

A^ that relates

(19)

? vf )I + vf A^ ?1

(20)

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

m+v

=

(21)

f

C C A

C C

S = S m + vf S f ? S m B

?1

Equations (21) and (22) are not independent, since S = [C ] .

(22)

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

A I

CVoigt

=

=

Cm + vf Cf ? Cm

vf Cf + vmCm

(23)

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

(a)

C (x)

(b)

(c)

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.

SReuss

=

=

S m + vf S f ? S m

vf Sf + vmSm

(24)

Theories

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,

A

Cm

T

Cf

(a)

(b)

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

(25)

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

stress is

I = m "C ? "T

(26)

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

(27)

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

(28)

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

I = f "A + "C

(29)

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

i

h

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

(30)

C E

C C

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

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

(31)

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

(32)

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

(33)

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

i

h

m f ? m "f = "

+

I ES C

(34)

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

inclusion is

h

i

Eshelby = +

m f ? m ?1

(35)

I ES C

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

7

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.

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"

(36)

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

(37)

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

(38)

i

h

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

f

f

(39)

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

8

homogeneous body of matrix at this stress,

= Cm "0

(40)

Within the composite the average matrix strain differs from the reference strain by some perturbam

~ ,

tion "

"m = "0 + "~m

(41)

f

~ , such that

A fiber in the composite will have an additional strain perturbation "

(42)

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

(43)

Compare this to the dilute version, eqn (33), noting that "A in the dilute problem is equivalent to

m

~ ) 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

(44)

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.

(45)

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

(46)

Chow then extended this result to an inhomogeneity following the usual arguments, eqns (28) to

(35). This produces a strain-concentration tensor

i

h

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

(47)

f

ES C C

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

(48)

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

(49)

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 .

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

h

i?1

SC = +

f?

(50)

I ES C

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

10

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.

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

bounds.

Hashin and Shtrikman developed an alternate variational principle for heterogeneous materials

34,35

. 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

11

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

ih

C = vf Cf Qf + vmCm Qm vf Qf + vmQm ?1

(51)

where the tensors Qf and Qm are defined as

h

i

h

i

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

h

i

m m ( f ? m ) ?1

^ lower =

(53)

+

I ES C C

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

h

i

f f( m ? f)

^ upper =

+

(54)

I ES C

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

12

that ellipsoidal particles of the matrix material are embedded in a continuous phase of the fiber

material.

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

o?1

n

^ Lielens = (1 ? f )[ ^ lower ]?1 + f [ ^ upper]?1

(55)

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

f=

vf + vf2

(56)

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.

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:

P

Pm

vf

1 ? vf

1+

with

=Pm ) ? 1

= ((PPf =P

)+1

f

(57)

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

13

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

P

k23

G23

G12

K

G

Pf

kf

Gf

Gf

Kf

Gf

Pm

km

Gm

Gm

Km

Gm

1?m ?2m2

1+m

1+m

3?m ?4m2

1

2(1?2m )

1+m

7?5m

8?10m

Comments

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

2

32

!

?

1

v

v

f

m

f

m

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

(58)

23

f

m

kf km

3

2

!

v

v

1

?

f

m

f

m

12 = vf f + vmm + 4 1 ? 1 5 k ? k ? k

(59)

23

f

m

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 .

values.

14

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

see Table 1.

P

E11

E22

G12

12

Pf

Ef

Ef

Gf

Pm

Em

Em

Gm

2(`=d)

Comments

longitudinal modulus

transverse 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,

1

P

while for

vf

Pf

vm

Pm

(60)

P = vf Pf + vmPm

(61)

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

(62)

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

15

=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

(63)

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 +

(64)

vf2max vf

"

!#

1

?

v

f

(vf ) =

(65)

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.

Historically, shear lag models were the first micromechanics models for short-fiber composites

55

, 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

11

16

rf

R

l

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

dz

rf

(66)

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

(67)

f

f

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)

f

11 = Ef "11 1 ?

(68)

`=2)

with

2 = rH2 E

f f

(69)

"f11 = `"11

where ` is a length-dependent efficiency factor,

"

` =

`=2)

1?

(`=2)

tanh(

(70)

#

(71)

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.

17

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

Fiber packing

Cox

Composite Cylinders

Hexagonal

Square

=

p KR

3

=2 3

=4

=

=

=

=

3.628

1.000

0.907

0.785

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

m

H = ln(2G

R=r )

f

(72)

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

2Gm

H = (R=r

)?1

(73)

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

s

R = KR

(74)

rf

vf

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

18

(75)

R

R

(a)

(b)

(c)

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:

E11

=

=

Em + vf (Ef ? Em)`

(76)

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

contrast,

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.

19

Model

Halpin-Tsai

Nielsen

Mori-Tanaka

Lielens

Self-Consistent

Shear Lag

Comments

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

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

effects.

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.

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

20

Property

E

vf

`=d

Fiber

Matrix

30

1

0.20

0.38

0.20

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

ratio.

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

1

G23

E22 (1 + 23)

(77)

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.

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

21

2

1

l/2

l/2

b

b

(a)

(b)

Figure 5: Representative volume elements used in the finite element calculations. (a) Regular

array; the bold lines show the RVE. (b) Staggered array.

22

7.0

6.0

5.0

Halpin-Tsai

Nielsen

Mori-Tanaka

Lielens

Self-consistent

Shear lag, square

FE, Sqr. Reg.

FE, Sqr. Stag.

FE, Hex. Reg.

FE, Hex. Stag.

4.0

3.0

2.0

1.0

0.0

1

10

100

Aspect Ratio, l/d

1000

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

23

2.0

1.5

1.0

Halpin-Tsai

Nielsen

Mori-Tanaka

Lielens

Self-consistent

0.5

FE,

FE,

FE,

FE,

Sqr. Reg.

Sqr. Stag.

Hex. Reg.

Hex. Stag.

0.0

1

10

100

Aspect Ratio, l/d

1000

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

E22.

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

24

0.40

Poisson Ratio, 12

0.35

0.30

Halpin-Tsai

Mori-Tanaka

Lielens

Self-consistent

FE, Sqr. Reg.

FE, Sqr. Stag.

FE, Hex. Reg.

FE, Hex. Stag.

0.25

0.20

1

10

100

1000

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

0.70

Poisson Ratio, 23

0.60

Halpin-Tsai

Nielsen

Mori-Tanaka

Lielens

Self-consistent

FE, Sqr. Reg.

FE, Sqr. Stag.

FE, Hex. Reg.

FE, Hex. Stag.

0.50

0.40

0.30

1

10

100

1000

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

25

20

15

10

Halpin-Tsai

Nielsen

Mori-Tanaka

Lielens

Self Consistent

BE, random

FE, Sqr. Reg.

FE, Sqr. Stag.

0

0.00

0.10

0.20

0.30

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

26

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.

Conclusions

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.

Acknowledgments

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.

27

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31

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

(78)

and the average composite properties E11 and 12 are defined from

"11

12

11=E11

?"22="11

=

=

(79)

(80)

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

?

"

22

12 = E11

11

(81)

E11 =

E0

1+

(82)

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,

0

(83)

11 (A ? A )

"22 = AE

3

0 4

0

(84)

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

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

"

#

(A3 ? 0 A4)

11

"22 = ? E 0 ? c

A

0

32

(85)

(86)

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

1

0 2

(87)

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.

33

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