Load transfer analysis is a new paradigm for lightweight vehicle design. U* index has been proved to be an effective indicator for the load path. The U* theory indicates that the external loading mainly transfers through the parts with higher U* values in the structure. However, the fundamental equations of the theory are based on isotropic, homogenous, and linear elastic assumptions for the materials. Consequently, U* index is inadequate for composite materials which are increasingly used in automotive structures. In this study, a new load transfer index for composite structures, U*O, is proposed for the first time inspired by the basic U* theory. The U*O index considers the composite material as orthotropic instead of isotropic and eliminates the limitation of the basic U*. The effectiveness of the new U*O index on load path prediction is demonstrated by a case study for a general Graphite-epoxy lamina. The U*O index is capable to evaluate the accurate load path for the composite specimen. By contrast, the basic U* analysis shows the incorrect results.

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