The papers published in this issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A are based on presentations made at a Discussion Meeting sponsored by The Hooke Committee of the Royal Society, named after Robert Hooke: ‘Ut Tensio sic vis’. After having examined silk fibres and fabrics, Hooke writes in his book Micrographia , an imprint of The Royal Society:
And I have often thought that probably there might be a way found out to make an artificial glutinous composition much resembling if not full as good, nay better than that excrement or whatever substance it might be out of which the silk worm draws his clew. If such a composition were found it were certainly an easy matter to find very quick ways of drawing it into small wires for use. I do not mention the use of such an invention nor the benefit that is likely to accrue to the finder, they being fully obvious. This hint may I therefore hope to give some inquisitive person an occasion of making some trials which if successful I have my aim and I suppose he will have no occasion to be displeased. , p. 7
Precisely three centuries later, when carbon fibre was a matchbox curiosity and literally worth its weight in gold, we have in composite materials discovered a clearly defined and distinct discipline, which in practice doubles up as a multidiscipline with a substantial number of independent branches, each one with its multifarious journals and textbooks, read by practicing materials scientists and engineers alike who communicate with each other on that basis. In this journal, the authors have produced an impressionistic map of the present state of the science and mechanics of composite materials, seen as a pointillistic portrait of the discipline of composites, to be viewed from a slight distance. But what defines composite materials science and links it to traditional engineering disciplines? Perhaps, the way to address this question is by means of what philosophers call an ostensive definition, relying on analogical or case-based reasoning. In other words, the papers presented here are an essay in ostensive definition, albeit a comprehensive one.
In these pages can be seen the materials scientist and engineer working at several levels of organization, each of which is underpinned by the next level. This feature is central to the subject of composite materials—the concept of architecture as the defining theme that connects composite materials science and engineering across orders of magnitude of size. To this is added the broader modern concept of mesostructure, a term particularly beloved of modellers and simulators; that level between the atomic size or molecular level and macroscopic appearance from the viewpoint of the engineer.
The author of each paper begins with their own personal viewpoint, delving into the natural characteristics and behaviour of a particular composite material system, probing and examining such concepts and relationships as structure and design from the very small to the very large. What emerge are the evolution of a number of neighbouring disciplines in mechanical design and processing; experimentation and analysis; mathematical and continuum modelling; constitutive and physical modelling (micro-mechanics or damage mechanics); computational mechanics and virtual simulation aided by computer power.
They all share certain characteristics in terms of hierarchy in which material constitutive properties are passed on from one model to the next via inheritance throughout the complete manufacture and design process. Fine-scale phenomena become embedded in calculations representing larger-scale behaviour, arriving at intelligent mechanical design based upon application of the principles of integrated multiscale mechanics and hierarchical models and analyses. The threads running through these papers can be drawn together, leading to an understanding of the structural integrity of composite materials.
One contribution of 22 to a Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Multiscale modelling of the structural integrity of composite materials’.
- Accepted February 15, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.