Realistic Stacking Sequence Optimisation of an Aero-Engine Fan Blade-Like Structure Subjected to Frequency, Deformation and Manufacturing Constraints

Giacomo Canale1, Stuart Andrews1, Felice Rubino2, *, Angelo Maligno2, Roberto Citarella3, Paul M. Weaver4
1 Rolls-Royce plc, Moor Lane C2, Derby, UK
2 Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering, University of Derby, Quaker Way, Derby, DE13EE, UK
3 Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Salerno, Via Papa Giovanni Paolo II 132, 84084 Fisciano (SA), Italy
4 Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Bristol, Queens Building, University Walk, Bristol BS8 1TR, UK

© 2018 Canale et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering, University of Derby, Quaker Way, Derby, DE13EE, UK; Tel: 01332593554; E-mail:



A procedure to optimise the stacking sequence of a composite fan blade-like structure is proposed in this article. The aim of the optimisation is to minimise weight when respecting deformation, frequency and strain constraints. The literature often deals with stacking sequence optimisation of airplane wings or wind turbine blades whilst less attention has been dedicated to aero-engines fan blades, the objective of the present paper. The manufacturing constraints are also implemented in the optimisation process in order to obtain a manufacturable structure.


Stacking sequence of composite laminates can be tailored to drive the deformation towards the desired shape (potentially exploiting unbalanced laminates and their anisotropy). When optimising the stacking sequence (including blending/tapering) of an aero-engine fan blade-like structure, manufacturing constraints must be included in order to apply the results of the optimisation procedure into a “Real World” design.


To define an engineering procedure able to provide a good design point to minimise the weight of a fan blade-like structure subjected to deformation (tip extension and untwist), frequency and strain constraints.


A two-level optimisation procedure is proposed. At the first level, the stacking sequence is optimised in such a way to maximise stiffness (and therefore to minimise deformation). Less stringent limits are applied to the constraints of such a level 1 optimisation. In the second step of the optimisation, the blending/tapering of each ply of the stacking sequence is searched.


The fan blade-like structure is loaded only with a centrifugal load (the main load acting on this kind of components). The stacking sequence obtained to minimise the weight contains 42.3% of 0 degrees fibres, 19.25% of 45 degrees fibres, 19.25% of -45 degrees fibres and 19.2% of 90 degrees fibres. Blending in terms of width and length of each layer is given in the numerical results section.


When the fan blade-like structure is loaded with a centrifugal force only, in order to minimise weight by respecting untwist, tip extension, frequency and integrity constraints, no unbalance in the laminate has been found necessary. An “Optimum” point has been found after a two steps optimisation. This design point is claimed as a good industrial design point rather than as “optimum” in the mathematical sense. Such a “Best Solution” design point has been verified by exploring the design space near it. All the performance of the neighbour points has been found worse. A comparison between a quasi-isotropic laminate and a zero degreed dominated laminate has been also performed.

Keywords: Composite optimisation, Blending, Stacking sequence, Untwist, Elastic tailoring, Fan blade.