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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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  • 32 Similar Profiles
Laminates Engineering & Materials Science
Buckling Engineering & Materials Science
Damage tolerance Engineering & Materials Science
Composite materials Engineering & Materials Science
Delamination Engineering & Materials Science
Impact strength Engineering & Materials Science
Compressive strength Engineering & Materials Science
Fibers Engineering & Materials Science

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2008 2024

Re-shaping the Test Pyramid

Butler, R. & Rhead, A.


Project: Research council

Composite materials
Damage tolerance
Continuum mechanics

Research Output 1995 2019

1 Citation (Scopus)

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

2 Citations (Scopus)

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

Composite materials
3D printers
Damage tolerance

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

Novel filler materials for composite out-of-plane joints

Sápi, Z., Hutchins, S., Butler, R. & Rhead, A. T., 11 Sep 2019, In : Composite Structures. 111382.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Novel filler materials for skin-stiffener structures

Sápi, Z., Hutchins, S., Butler, R. & Rhead, A. T., 16 Aug 2019.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


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 of Aerospace Laminates for Multi-Axis Loading and Damage Tolerance

Author: Nielsen, M., 10 Jul 2018

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

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD