The combination of fibre volume fraction, fibre orientation and lay-up sequence in composite materials makes it possible to design a multitude of composite pressure vessels and pipes. Analytical models, based on the classical laminate theory and numerical predictive techniques offer a means to optimize the lay-up sequence in order to maximize the strength to weight / cost ratio. This study looks at the validity of using analytical models prescribed in the design by analysis filament wound composite standards and compares the results with realistic test and numerical models. The results show that the classical laminate theory accurately establishes the design load in symmetric and balanced lay-up laminates when appropriate material properties are assigned. However in the case of asymmetric or unbalanced lay-up sequences, the bending and twisting stiffness geometrically strengthens the pipes such that the classical hoop and axial loading conditions based on isotropic material properties, no longer apply. In such instances the analytical solutions can underestimate the design load by more than 33%. An analytical solution that accurately establishes the loading configuration and magnitude is required. On the other hand numerical models gave good agreement with the experimental test results immaterial of the lay-up sequences, when appropriate end coupling, pressure loading and material properties are applied.

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