Multi-physics design and optimization of flexible matrix composite driveshafts

Christoph Roos, Charles E. Bakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Flexible matrix composites (FMCs) consist of low modulus elastomers such as polyurethanes which are reinforced with high-stiffness continuous fibers such as carbon. This fiber-resin system is more compliant compared to typical rigid matrix composites and hence allows for higher design flexibility. Continuous, single-piece FMC driveshafts can be used for helicopter applications. In the present investigation, an optimization tool using a genetic algorithm approach is developed to determine the best combination of stacking sequence, number of plies and number of in-span bearings for a minimum-weight, spinning, misaligned FMC helicopter driveshaft. In order to gain more insight into designing driveshafts, various loading scenarios are analyzed and the effect of misalignment of the shaft is investigated. This is the first time that a self-heating analysis of a driveshaft with frequency- and temperature-dependent material properties is incorporated within a design optimization model. The analysis assures that the material does not overheat and that allowables are not exceeded. The challenge is that the analysis needs to address several physical processes such as self-heating in the presence of material damping, conduction and surface convection, ply-level stresses and strains, buckling and dynamic stability. Quasi-static and dynamic temperature- and frequency-dependent material properties for a carbon-polyurethane composite are embedded within the model. For two different helicopter drivelines, weight savings of about 20% are shown to be possible by replacing existing multi-segmented metallic drivelines with FMC drivelines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2231-2240
Number of pages10
JournalComposite Structures
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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