The broad scope of the research described herein is the integration of several components of engineering software using a relational database. More specifically, a conceptual finite element material preprocessing system for fiber-reinforced composite materials was studied. In this computer-aided analysis (CAA) system, a materials database is integrated with several software components, including commercially available finite element analysis (FEA) programs and preprocessors, and tools for the design of laminated composite materials.

The focus of the system is on the integration of two- and three-dimensional composite materials data into several finite element analysis programs. Particular attention is given to analysis and design of components and structures using thick composite materials. Many engineering applications exist for thick composite structures; however, they have received less critical attention than the thin composite structures often used in aerospace applications. The primary objective of the composites analysis system is to enhance data transfer between and interaction among several engineering software programs with a minimum of user interaction.

This paper describes a specific implementation of a computer-aided analysis system that achieves this objective, detailing the need for the system and describing each of its components, including a composite materials database. The capabilities of the integrated system are discussed, including tasks such as composite laminate design, data entry, report generation, and interface file generation, performed in support of the finite element analysis capability. A major focus of the paper is on the twofold role of the materials database in the analysis system, as both a passive data repository and as a dynamic data transfer mechanism. The use of interface programs and direct integration techniques are discussed in the context of passing materials data between the user and the database, and between the database and the various system components or application programs.

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