A comprehensive micromechanical investigation of 3D periodic composite structures reinforced with a grid of orthotropic reinforcements is undertaken. Two different modeling techniques are presented; one is based on the asymptotic homogenization method and the other is a numerical model based on the finite element technique. The asymptotic homogenization model transforms the original boundary value problem into a simpler one characterized by effective coefficients which are shown to depend only on the geometric and material parameters of a periodicity cell. The model is applied to various 3D grid-reinforced structures with generally orthotropic constituent materials. Analytical formula for the effective elastic coefficients are derived, and it is shown that they converge to earlier published results in much simpler case of 2D grid reinforced structures with isotropic constituent materials. A finite element model is subsequently developed and used to examine the aforementioned periodic grid-reinforced orthotropic structures. The deformations from the finite element simulations are used to extract the elastic and shear moduli of the structures. The results of the asymptotic homogenization analysis are compared to those pertaining to their finite element counterparts and a very good agreement is shown between these two approaches. A comparison of the two modeling techniques readily reveals that the asymptotic homogenization model is appreciably faster in its implementation (without a significant loss of accuracy) and thus is readily amenable to preliminary design of a given 3D grid-reinforced composite structure. The finite element model however, is more accurate and predicts all of the effective elastic coefficients. Thus, the engineer facing a particular design application, could perform a preliminary design (selection of type, number and spatial orientation of the reinforcements) and then fine tune the final structure by using the finite element model.
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