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Research interests


Professor Richard Butler obtained his BEng and PhD from the University of Wales, Cardiff. He was appointed as Lecturer in Aerospace Structures at Bath in 1990. Since then he has worked closely with aerospace manufacturers to understand and improve the structural performance of advanced wing structures and rotor blades.

He holds a Royal Academy of Engineering & GKN Aerospace Chair in Composites Analysis.



Richard’s research interests are currently focussed on the manufacturability, damage tolerance and elastic tailoring of composite structures. In particular, he has developed novel analytical methods for predicting the compressive strength of composite laminates following delamination damage. Such damage could either be sustained in service, or could arise from small manufacturing defects. 


Other interests include: the prediction of stability (as a result of buckling) in aerospace structures and the optimum placement of carbon or glass fibres in structures. Ongoing projects are exploring the use of future manufacturing capability, such as steered fibre paths, to further improve structural efficiency. His group’s optimisation and analysis methods have been used to achieve strength and stiffness improvements of over 20%, leading to significant opportunity for savings in structural weight and fuel-saving potential.  Semi-analytical models have been created to predict the formation of fibre-wrinkling defects during manufacture of complex structural components. A new multiscale framework for ultra-efficient (highly parallel) Finite Element Analysis of composite structures is under development with mathematicians Prof Rob Scheichl (Bath) and Dr Tim Dodwell (Exeter).


Richard co-directs the Materials and Structures Research Centre, which has a full suite of structural test facilities, along with the ability to use non-linear Finite Element software for verification and validation purposes.


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Research Output

Buckling and strength analysis of panels with discrete stiffness tailoring

Culliford, L., Butler, R., Choudhry, R. & Rhead, A. T., 15 Feb 2020, In : Composite Structures. 234, 111672.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
24 Downloads (Pure)

A plate model for compressive strength prediction of delaminated composites

Choudhry, R. S., Rhead, A. T., Nielsen, M. W. D. & Butler, R., 15 Feb 2019, In : Composite Structures. 210, p. 509-517 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
1 Citation (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)

Filler materials in composite out-of-plane joints – A review

Sápi, Z., Butler, R. & Rhead, A., 1 Jan 2019, In : Composite Structures. 207, p. 787-800 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  • 4 Citations (Scopus)

    High fidelity analysis to predict failure in T-joints

    Sapi, Z., Butler, R. & Rhead, A. T., 1 Oct 2019, In : Composite Structures. 225, 111143.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access
    2 Citations (Scopus)
    1 Downloads (Pure)

    High-performance dune modules for solving large-scale, strongly anisotropic elliptic problems with applications to aerospace composites

    Butler, R., Dodwell, T., Reinarz, A., Sandhu, A., Scheichl, R. & Seelinger, L., 25 Oct 2019, In : Computer Physics Communications. 106997.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Open Access


    Aeroelastic Topology Optimisation of Aircraft High Aspect Ratio Wings

    Author: Seow, V., 11 Jan 2017

    Supervisor: Alicia Kim, H. (External person) (Supervisor), Bowen, C. (Supervisor) & Butler, R. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisMPhil


    Certification and Design for Manufacture of Curved and Tapered Laminates

    Author: Fletcher, T., 24 May 2017

    Supervisor: Butler, R. (Supervisor) & Hunt, G. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    Characterisation and Exploitation of Ultrasonic Guided Wave Modes for Structural Health Monitoring of Glass-Fibre-Reinforced-Polymer Structures

    Author: Hernandez-Crespo, B., 19 Jun 2019

    Supervisor: Butler, R. (Supervisor) & Courtney, C. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    Characterisation of Uncured Carbon Fibre Prepreg

    Author: Erland, S., 26 Apr 2017

    Supervisor: Butler, R. (Supervisor), Dodwell, T. (Supervisor) & Rhead, A. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


    Design, Analysis and Testing of Composite T-joints

    Author: Sapi, Z., 4 Sep 2019

    Supervisor: Bowen, C. (Supervisor), Butler, R. (Supervisor) & Rhead, A. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD