Non-destructive evaluation of through-thickness permeability in 3D woven fabrics for composite fan blade applications

M. A. Ali, Rehan Umer, K. A. Khan, S. Bickerton, W. J. Cantwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


In this study, we propose a non-destructive modeling framework, with an ability to obtain computational models for numerical prediction of resin flow through 3D fabrics (commonly used in engine fan blade applications) at multiple fiber volume fractions using a single experiment. The work involves extracting real-time geometrical features of two types of 3D reinforcements during an in-situ compaction experiment using micro CT. The 3D image slices obtained at four different thicknesses were converted to computational models. The fiber tows and inter-tow gaps were modeled as distinct phases. The gap analysis and geometrical measurements revealed significant differences in the preform microstructure investigated at different thicknesses. This was followed by a detailed flow analysis using two different commercial software packages. The exported mesh was analyzed in GeoDict® and Ansys Fluent® for through-thickness permeability computations. The governing fluid dynamics equations were solved to obtain the flow field within the inter-tow gaps for representative volume elements. The predicted through-thickness permeability values were in very good agreement with the experimental data.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)520-533
Number of pages14
JournalAerospace Science and Technology
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • 3-Dimensional reinforcements
  • Compaction response
  • Micro CT analysis
  • Permeability characterization
  • Resin Transfer Molding


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