Composite Forming

Advanced Composite Forming Simulation through Add-ons for Abaqus

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Forming two-dimensional semi-finished products into complex shapes is one of the most determining process steps in manufacturing continuously fiber-reinforced plastics (CoFRP). This process step might be accompanied by forming defects like local wrinkling or gapping. Moreover, forming effects, including a change in fiber orientation or fiber volume content, are inevitable.


Composites forming simulation enables the prediction of manufacturing effects and manufacturability for a specific geometry, including identifying the most-suitable forming strategy, for example, tooling sequence or gripper setups.


SimuDrape, our ABAQUS add-on for composites forming simulation, enables ABAQUS to be used for composites forming simulation. Use your existing software architecture for advanced CoFRP forming simulations!


Visualization of an exemplary forming simulation prediction:
Left: CT-Scan of the physical part, Middle: Shear angle prediction, Right: Predicted local fiber orientation.

Key features in a Nutshell


Gripper modelling

Grippers are valuable utility to enable defect-free forming. Our simulation tool SimuDrape provides accurate modeling and, thus, optimization of gripper configurations.


Fiber orientation prediction

Composites forming simulation is capable to predict fiber orientation as basis for accurate downstream FEA . SimuChain, our tool for setting up a virtual process chain, transfers relevant state variables to downstream FEA.


Sequential draping

Sequential forming concepts can facilitate the forming process. Our simulation tool SimuDrape allows the virtual exploration and optimization of arbitrary sequential stamp concepts.


Real-time estimation of thermal history

Estimating the temperature and time window for processing is an essential step in thermoforming predictions. Our analytical tools provide a fast through-thickness prediction through-thickness of temperature and kinetics, taking into account tool-ply gap conductance, convection, and radiation.


Wrinkling prediction

Composites forming simulation enables the prediction of manufacturing effects and proof of manufacturability for a specific geometry, and thus helps you to reduce physical trials to a minimum.


Tip angle determination

The appropriate tip angle of the mold prevents the occurrence of adverse lateral forces during forming. Our analytical tool enables the optimization of tool orientation during tool design. Hence, significant lateral forces can be avoided through a smart process design.


Membrane forming

The use of vacuum processes with a flexible membrane enables forming of large components. SimuDrape allows to predict and optimize membrane forming processes.

Materials & Technologies

SimuDrape supports the materials and processing technologies relevant to large-scale production, ranging from dry engineering textiles to thermoplastic and thermoset prepregs.


Woven fabric & UD-NCF

Forming of engineering textiles is an essential process step before infiltration with a resin, e.g. as part of the Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) technology. We provide advanced material models and support you in creating material cards for woven fabrics as well as for non-crimp fabrics (NCFs). Please note, the required characterization data on the selected material.


Thermoplastic tape laminates, Organosheets & Thermoset prepregs

Continuous reinforcements with a thermoplastic matrix are broadly applied in industrial applications. In addition, thermoset prepregs play a major role. We provide advanced material models for thermoplastic and thermoset matrices and support you in creating respective material cards. Our expertise includes the characterization and modeling of temperature- and -rate-dependent deformation mechanisms, thermal properties, and crystallization and curing kinetics for thermoplastic and thermoset matrices, respectively.


Material card creation

We are your one-stop solution for material card creation and tailor the testing program according to the considered semi-finished product and your desired degree of complexity. We rely on the following test setups.


Shear behavior

In-plane shearing is the most decisive deformation mode of continuous reinforcements during forming. We offer several state-of-the-art characterization approaches for dry and impregnated textiles:

  • Bias-Extension-Test (Fabrics, Organosheets)
  • Picture Frame Test (Fabrics)
  • Torsion bar test (UD-Tapes)

Interface behavior

Friction and sticking occurs between individual plies of a stack and between the stack outer layers and the tool surfaces. Both contact pairs have a significant influence on the forming behavior, the surface quality and determine the required restraining forces of grippers. We supply you with two state-of-the art characterization approaches:

  • Sled-based friction assessment (Fabrics)
  • Pull-through-Test (Fabrics, UD-Tapes, Organosheets)

Bending behavior

Out-of-plane bending stiffness is crucial to assess potential wrinkles and gravity-induced slag during processing.  We offer two standard characterization approaches:

  • Cantilever test (Fabrics)
  • Rheometer bending test (UD-Tapes, Organosheets)

Kinetic behavior

Characterization of curing (thermosets) or crystallization (thermoplastics) is an essential step of the material card creation of pre-impregnated semi-finished products. We offer Differential Scanning Calorymetry (DSC) and thus are able to model and simulate curing and crystallization kinetics during forming.

References & Publications

Our methods are tested and validated for geometries with relevant complexity and size. Check out our use cases, publications and awards.

Case Studies

  • A Virtual Process Chain for Thermoforming Technologies [Read more]
  • Relevance of thermomechanical in thermoforming simulation [Read more]
  • Ensuring manufacturability and optimal processing for UD-Tape automotive Under covers (coming soon)


  • Dörr et al.: A coupled thermomechanical approach for finite element forming simulation of continuously fiber-reinforced semi-crystalline thermoplastics, Composites: Part A (125), 2019.
  • Poppe et al.: Comparative experimental and numerical analysis of bending behaviour of dry and low viscous infiltrated woven fabrics, Composite Part A (124), 2019.
  • Poppe et al.: Experimental and numerical investigation of the shear behaviour of infiltrated woven fabrics, Composite Part A (14), 327-337, 2018.
  • Dörr et al.: A Benchmark Study of Finite Element Codes for Forming Simulation of Thermoplastic UD-Tapes, Procedia CIRP, 66, 2017.
  • Schirmaier et al.: A macroscopic approach to simulate the forming behaviour of stitched uni-directional non-crimp fabrics (UD-NCF), Composites: Part A (102), 2017.


  • PhD Prize for Industrial Research issued by the ESAFORM and awarded to Dr. Christian Poppe (2022)  [Link]
  • PhD Prize for Industrial Research issued by the ESAFORM and awarded to Dr. Dominik Dörr (2021) [Link]
  • to Dr. Dominik Dörr [Link]

Any questions?

Do not hesitate to get in contact with us. We are pleased if you leave us a message!