software Turning the PLM system into a composites-friendly environment Aircraft manufacturers are addressing the industry trends toward lighter weight structures and increased operating efficiency with the use of advanced composite materials. The amount of composites used in commercial aircraft has increased to over 50% by weight in the past several decades and continues to grow as the advantages of high strength-to-weight and high stiffness-to-weight structures become more exploitable. By DIRECTOR OF JOHN O’CONNOR PRODUCT & MARKET STRATEGY VISTAGY, INC. 60 he expected reduction in operating costs due to the lower maintenance associated with composite structures also provides a major impetus for using them in airframes as a substitute for more traditional aluminium alloys. T jec composites magazine / No67 August - September 2011 The challenge of designing these composite airframe structures extends from the creation of the individual composite part definitions in the airframe assembly to managing them throughout the product development lifecycle. As composites have gone mainstream, the need for design technologies that “understand” composites has grown exponentially. And since these technologies have to support the workflows and processes for all part types, the manufacturer has the challenge of making the product lifecycle management (PLM) system and the associated computer-aided design (CAD) system specific to the needs of composite design without making it onerous or unusable for other kinds of designs. Solutions for the development of composite structures standardize and automate this process within the off- the-shelf CAD and PLM systems. This built with a more efficient and robust approach enables higher quality process. Leveraging the core composite designs to be created faster capabilities of the PLM system in this by augmenting the native capability of way leads to shorter development the CAD and PLM systems. The cycles and more profitable operations. efficiency of many tasks is improved and non-value-added tasks are reduced Challenging traditional or, in many cases, completely systems eliminated. All of this happens in The unique nature of composite design accordance with the design-torepresents a challenge for traditional manufacturing release cycle of CAD and PLM systems. Composite aerospace companies. parts are not simply parts; they are With the addition of aerospace-specific complex, inseparable assemblies of composite information, PLM becomes a powerful mechanism to deliver information for the composite development workflow. This makes the process smooth and seamless while fully and smartly leveraging the capability of both the PLM and CAD environments. Pictured above is a fuselage panel being designed with FiberSIM® compoAs a result, sites engineering software during a CATIA modeling session. The FiberSIM User Interface in the lower right hand corner contains a list of plies that composite are linked to the color coded curves representing the ply boundaries in the structures can be CATIA model.