Composite forming simulation

Use composite forming simulation to optimize manufacturing processes with continuously fiber-reinforced composites.


Forming two-dimensional semi-finished products into complex shapes is one of the most determining process steps in the manufacturing of continuously fiber-reinforced plastics.

Forming 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 predicting manufacturing effects and manufacturability for a specific geometry. This includes identifying the most-suitable forming strategy, for example, the tooling sequence or gripper setups.


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


Short video: Local fiber orientation prediction with SimuDrape.

Visualization of an exemplary forming simulation result:
Left: Surface scan of the physical part, middle: Shear strain prediction, right: Local fiber orientation prediction.

Key features

gripper modeling simudrape

Gripper modeling

Grippers are valuable utility to enable defect-free forming. SimuDrape provides accurate gripper modeling approaches taking into account kinematics and load application and, thus,  enables the optimization of gripper setups.

composite forming simulation

Fiber orientation prediction

Forming induces a local change in fiber orientation. The local fiber orientation can be predicted by SimuDrape and transferred to downstream FEA by SimuChain, our Abaqus add-on for setting up a virtual process chain, to increase the prediction accuracy of FEA.

composite forming simulation

Sequential draping

Sequential forming concepts can facilitate the forming process by mimicking a hand-draping process. SimuDrape allows the automatic model setup with an arbitrary number of stamps and therefore virtual optimization of arbitrary sequential draping concepts.

real-time estimation of thermal history

Real-time estimation of thermal history

Estimating the time and temperature window is crucial for designing thermoforming processes. SimuTherm provides almost real-time predictions for the through-thickness temperature and crystallization kinetics, taking into account tool-ply gap conductance, convection, and radiation.

Defect prediction

Composites forming might go along with defects, such as local wrinkling or gapping. Composites forming simulation is capable to predict local defects and thus can be used to validate and optimize the manufacturability of a specific geometry.

mold design

Mold design

An appropriate tip angle of the mold prevents the occurrence of thrust forces during forming. Our analytical tools enable the optimization of part orientation and center of gravity during mold design.

composite forming simulation

Membrane forming

The use of vacuum-assisted processes with a deformable membrane enables forming of large components. SimuDrape supports the automatic model setup for membrane forming processes and membrane modeling using hyperelastic material modeling.

Tailoring determination

Near-net-shaped forming enables the reduction of material waste and thus increases material efficiency. SimuDrape enables the determination of the results from composite forming simulation to determine a suitable tailoring for near-net-shaped forming.

Materials & Technologies

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

non-crimp and woven fabrics

Non-crimp fabrics (NCF) & woven fabrics

Forming 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 (NCF).

Our expertise includes the characterization and modeling of relevant forming mechanisms. This includes in particular the specificities of unidirectional, biaxial, and triaxial NCF.

thermoplastic tape laminates, organosheets, thermoset prepregs

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 corresponding 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 semi-finished product and your desired degree of complexity. We support the following test setups. Do not hesitate to reach out in case you have a non-standard request, we’ll find a solution.



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

  • Bias extension test
    (fabrics, organosheets)
  • Picture frame test
  • Torsion bar rheometer test
    (tape laminates)
frictional behavior influences the forming process


Inter-ply sliding respectively friction occurs between the individual layers of a stacked laminate as well as between the stack and the mold. Thus, frictional behavior influences the forming process. We support two characterization approaches:

  • Sled-based friction test
  • Pull-through friction test
    (organosheets, tape laminates
bending: cantilever test, rheometer test


The out-of-plane bending stiffness is crucial to assess potential wrinkling and gravity-induced sag during forming.  We support two standard characterization approaches:

  • Cantilever test
  • Bending rheometer test
    (tape laminates, organosheets
kinetics: flash, fast, and conventional DSC, TGA


Crosslinking and crystallization significantly impact the increase of mechanical stiffness. Therefore, characterizing the kinetics is a valuable step in material card creation. We offer several state-of-the-art characterization techniques for thermosetting and thermoplastic materials:

  • Flash DSC, fast DSC, and conventional DSC (Differential scanning calorimetry) for reaction kinetics of thermosets and crystallization kinetics of thermoplastics
  • TGA (Thermogravimetric analysis) for determination of polymer content

References & Publications

Our simulation and engineering approaches are tested and validated for geometries with relevant complexity and size. Check out our case studies, publications, and awards.

Case Studies

  • A Virtual Process Chain for Thermoforming Technologies [Link]
  • Relevance of thermomechanical in thermoforming simulation [Link]


  • 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, 2020. [Link]

Any questions?

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