The present paper examines a modified shear-lag model for predicting the stress distribution in short fiber reinforced composite materials. The model assumes perfect bonding between the fiber and the matrix materials, and allows for the matrix material to partially sustain axial loads. The stress distribution obtained on the basis of this model is used to predict the internal damping characteristics of the composite material. These characteristics are a function of both the material properties and the geometrical layout of the composite, and are optimized by combining the analytical model with a nonlinear programming optimization algorithm. Representative numerical results are obtained for glass–epoxy and graphite–epoxy composites

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