Composite Part Design and Manufacturing

Creo simplifies composite part design and manufacturing, allowing engineers to create strong, lightweight structures using diverse materials. It streamlines production, optimizes performance, and reduces costs.


Composites are materials created by combining two or more different substances. Thin layers of materials are stacked and bonded using a resin to achieve the desired material properties, tailored for specific applications. Carbon fiber, fiberglass, and Kevlar are all considered composite materials. Composites allow engineers to create parts with superior strength-to-weight ratios, improved durability, and reduced overall weight.

What is composite part design?

Composite part design is crucial to modern engineering. With composite part design one can mix and match material layers, tailoring strength, flexibility, impact absorption and cost. Creo Composite Design and Manufacturing Extension (CDM) and Creo Composite Design and Manufacturing Advanced Extension (CDMA) are recent additions to the Creo suite. While both extensions provide composite design support. CDMA is more focused on manufacturing benefits and more advanced workflows when designing composites.

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What is composite manufacturing?

Composite manufacturing is the process of defining the detailed instructions to produce composite parts. This involves generation of cores, individual flat ply layers, transitions, draping, and splicing features. CDMA provides all of this, plus support for automated plybook generation, seamlessly integrated in the Creo design environment.

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What are the benefits of Creo Composite Design and Manufacturing?

With Creo Composite Design and Manufacturing (CDM) extensions, engineers can design, simulate, and validate composite products without leaving the Creo environment. Creo helps in the production planning of composite parts, assists in managing ply definition, and automates ply book generation.

With Creo Composite Design and Manufacturing (CDM) extensions, engineers can design, simulate, and validate composite products without leaving the Creo environment. Creo helps in the production planning of composite parts, assists in managing ply definition, and automates ply book generation.

Fully integrated into Creo

Engineers can design, simulate, and validate composite products without leaving Creo. With Creo, manufacturers can maintain an unbroken digital thread throughout the design process, improving quality and productivity.

Supports simulation analysis

Using Creo simulation, engineers can access the mass properties of composite parts created in the design stage and perform structural analysis of these complex parts.

Facilitates production planning

Creo Composite Design and Manufacturing (CDM) simplifies ply definition and detailed instructions. Creo facilitates generation of cores, individual flat ply layers, transitions, draping, and splicing features.

Powerful ply management

Efficiently handle ply management using a dedicated laminate tree, including solid laminate and IML quilt options, while also calculating comprehensive laminate mass properties.

Simplifies documentation

Creo Composite Design and Manufacturing (CDM) extension automates the generation of process documentation based on the definition and stack-up of individual flat ply contours.

Composite Design Tool: Creo

From engineering design and analysis through manufacturing, read how PTC’s Creo 3D CAD/CAM/CAE product design solution handles composite materials.

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What is the composite design and manufacturing process?

The composite design and manufacturing process typically involves the creation of ply book drawings, which detail the specific arrangement and orientation of composite plys in a component. These drawings or flat patterns are crucial for ensuring the correct stacking sequence, fiber angles, and material choices to meet design requirements. The process includes design, engineering analysis, layup, quality control, and manufacturing, all guided by the information provided in the ply book drawings to achieve the desired composite part.

Frequently asked questions

How is composite manufacturing different from traditional manufacturing?

Composite manufacturing is different from traditional manufacturing in several important ways. Composite manufacturing uses layers of various materials, such as polymers, metals, ceramics, and carbon, embedded in a resin matrix to create a material with specific characteristics. Traditional manufacturing, on the other hand, typically involves shaping, cutting, or forming a single material into a desired product. Other differences include material composition, material properties, processing techniques, design flexibility, strength-to-weight ratio, cost, and production rates.

What are composites in design?

Composites in design refer to engineered materials comprising two or more distinct components with distinct properties combined to achieve specific performance characteristics. These components typically include a reinforcement phase (like fibers or particles) and a matrix (usually a polymer or resin). Composites are renowned for their exceptional strength-to-weight ratios, corrosion resistance, and tailored mechanical properties, making them indispensable in various industries, including aerospace, automotive, energy, and sports equipment. By strategically selecting materials and configuring their arrangement, designers can create composites with customized attributes, enhancing structural integrity, and reducing weight—critical requirements in modern engineering and product development. Composites empower designers to push the boundaries of innovation and efficiency.

What is composite fabrication?

Composite fabrication is the process of defining the detailed instructions to manufacture composite parts, including generation of cores, individual flat ply layers, transitions, draping, and splicing features. CDMA provides all of this, plus support for automated ply book generation, seamlessly integrated in the Creo design environment. It allows for precise control over material properties, enabling the creation of strong, durable, and versatile products.

What are some of the different types of composite materials?

The choice of composite material depends on the specific application and the required properties, such as strength, weight, durability, and environmental considerations. The versatility of composites makes them valuable in various industries from aerospace and automotive to construction and sports equipment.

  • Carbon Fiber: A high-strength, lightweight material composed of thin fibers made mostly of carbon atoms. These fibers are combined into a composite material by embedding them in a polymer matrix. Carbon fiber composites are known for their exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, making them ideal for applications requiring rigidity and low weight, such as aerospace, automotive, and sports equipment.
  • Kevlar: A synthetic aramid fiber developed by DuPont that is renowned for its remarkable strength and heat resistance. Kevlar fibers are often used in applications where high tensile strength and resistance to abrasion and impact are crucial. These include body armor, bulletproof vests, gloves, and various protective gear.
  • Fiberglass: A composite material made of fine glass fibers embedded in a polymer matrix, typically epoxy or polyester resin. It is valued for its high strength, lightweight nature, and corrosion resistance. Fiberglass is commonly used in construction, boat building, automotive parts, and various consumer products, thanks to its versatility and cost-effectiveness.

What is composite simulation and analysis?

Creo Simulation users can access the mass properties of composite parts created in the design stage and perform structural analysis of these complex parts, taking into account each ply’s material characteristics and orientation, ensuring that the final parts meet the engineering requirements. Users can employ the software’s draping simulation feature to analyze the ply producibility and create the ply flat patterns.

Where are composites used?

Composites are valued for their ability to be tailored to specific requirements, making them a versatile choice in many industries where traditional materials may fall short in terms of performance, weight, or durability. The American Composites Manufacturing Association (ACMA) reports that wind energy is the leading consumer (25%), followed by aerospace (20%), sporting goods/recreation (10-12%), automotive (10-12%), compounding for injection molded plastics (5-8%), pressure vessels (5-8%), and construction and infrastructure (5-8%). Other market segments account for approximately 15% and continue to grow, as additional applications are identified.