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Composite Sandwich Panel - Best Approach?

Question asked by Richard Kaiser on Jan 8, 2014

I am a university student with access to SolidWorks, but the university offers no support. Seems like a pretty sophisticated software package to just say, "Here you go" to the students who want to use it for their research. Nevertheless, I am left with figuring it out on my own.


I want to model a composite sandwich panel 4 feet wide x 10 feet long x 8" thick using a rigid foam core and carbon fiber laminate skins. I want to provide supports (steel wide-flange beams) for the ends of the panel to rest on. The panel will be loaded both perpendicular and parallel to the 4 foot width, or, in the Z direction and Y direction, with the X direction corresponding to the 10 foot length. The panel is to be connected to the beams by an epoxy adhesive bond, or by mechanical fasteners like bolts. Ultimately, I want to evaluate the stresses in the panel and the connections, as well as deflection characteristics.


I am aware of shells, or surface bodies, defined as composites. The sandwich feature would not apply to my problem, as I want to look at different materials for different plies. I have modeled a surface body as a composite with 2 symmetrical skin layers and a foam core. However, it is still a razor thin element (graphically) that I somehow doubt I can use to properly model an attachment to beam supports. Also, loading it on this thin edge (Y-direction) seems a bit goofy because it's represented as an edge of a thin surface instead of an 8 inch thick panel.


Because I have little guidance outside of what's available to everyone online, I am guessing at what the best approach would be. My guess would be to create individual parts for all these things (laminates, foam core, beams, epoxy layer) and then create an assembly. And in creating the parts, define the materials of the parts in that module (if that makes sense), so that when I create an assembly, the parts are associated with materials and properties coming in. I mention this because when I modeled the surface body as a composite, I defined the materials in the simulation module and not when I drew the part.


Is this the right approach? Or is a multi-body part approach better? Or something else?


Thank you for your time.