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The University of Southampton
Rifi An Enterprise Consultancy Unit

Case Study: Crash worthiness and durability of hybrid structures

Objective: Provision of detailed material data for subsequent finite element analysis (FEA).


  • Gordon Murray Design (GMD) are developing a new manufacturing procedure to produce car bodies from composite materials.
  • Offers significant investment cost savings over traditional stamped steel.
  • Crash worthiness and durability of the hybrid structures needs to be considered.
  • Detailed material data from coupon tests was required for Finite Element Analysis (FEA).
  • A large number of tests needed completing in a short timescale as input to a Technology Strategy Board (TSB) project.
  • What we did

  • Utilised expertise in high strain rate testing ( and extensive facilities for materials and structures testing.
  • Advised on suitable specimen geometry for Chopped Strand Mat (CSM) and Uni-Directional (UD) composite material and strain gauged specimens.
  • Tensile strain rate testing of composite laminate coupons, up to 200 strains per second.
  • Collected high speed images to confirm failure mechanism and Digital Image Correlation (DIC) was used to provide further information.
  • Tensile fatigue tests of welded and non-welded steel coupons (part of the hybrid structure), up to 10M cycles, to produce an S-N curve.
  • Impact

  • For the composite materials of the effect of strain rate on the failure stress, Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio was quantified, and the failure mechanisms identified.
  • The fatigue tests gave indications of the fatigue limits of the virgin and welded steel material.
  • Provided data from the materials characterisation tests in the timescales required.
  • High speed camera setup for DIC
    High speed camera setup for DIC
    Specimen failure - high speed image
    Specimen failure - high speed image

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