Western Nevada instructor knows composites
From air bags in cars to possible uses as replacement for flexible tissue-like skin, coated fabrics are destined to play a larger role in American’s lives.
A big step in making those types of products more common has been taken by Dr. Aniruddha Mitra, engineering instructor at Western Nevada Community College.
“Composites are expected to become more important in aerospace, earthquake-proof construction materials, and robotics,” Mitra said. “Composites can take a lot of elongation and stress without losing their strength, and they can be stressed in different directions at the same time.”
Mitra has developed a new modeling technique to predict how flexible composites will react under stress from more than one direction. His article has just been published in the “Journal of Applied Mechanics,” the most respected journal in its field.
The title of the article may be enough to scare off a mainstream audience: “Finite Elastic Behavior of Flexible Fabric Composite Under Biaxial Loading,” but the results are important.
“When you take something like an air bag and stretch it from more than one direction, it’s hard to predict how it will react. It was hard to come up with a computer model. There is a complexity of geometry,” Mitra said. But in working with S.Y. Luo, associate professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, Mitra said It was hard to come up with a computer model. There is a complexity of geometry,” Mitra said. But in working with S.Y. Luo, associate professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, Mitra said that through the use of a computer they have been able to duplicate the effects of the strain on composite fabrics under varying amounts of force.
His work is partially financed by grants of $8,000 and $12,000 from the National Science Foundation. Those funds financed the theory’s development and the hiring of a graduate student to work on the project.
The modeling technique will allow more precise testing of flexible composites, such as rubber-coated fabrics.
Mitra sees and eventual use in composites helping to replace soft tissues of the human body, and received one of his National Science Foundation grants to perform experiments on how tissues react to stress. But Mitra doesn’t see himself continuing that type of research.
“I’m a mechanical engineer. I do my work with pencil, paper and a computer. I go from the data and material to do the theoretical part of it,” Mitra said.
Born in India, the 37-year old WNCC instructor received a degree in mechanical engineering in Jadavpur University, Calcutta, and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India. He accepted a research assistantship at UNR where he earned his doctorate. Most of the experimental work was done at UNR’s composites laboratory. Mitra became a full-time instructor at WNCC in the fall of 1996.
Through research and experiments, he was able to develop a theory on how composites react to being stressed in different directions.
“My experimental results verify my theory. The predictions match the outcomes; it’s not just theoretical.”
The eight-page article in the journal includes graphs showing experimental results tracking precisely to his model.
Mitra sees his work being used to assist other educational institutions which are designing and testing coated flexible fabrics for a number of uses.