An experimental and numerical study of industrially representative wrinkles in carbon fibre composite laminates

Nicholas R. Pilato, Richard Butler, James Trevarthen, Alexander J.G. Lunt

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Wrinkles (out-of-plane waviness) are a common carbon fibre composite manufacturing defect that causes significant reductions in the components’ mechanical properties. The substantial cost implications of empirical testing has led to industrial demands for reliable and representative wrinkle models. This paper presents a novel modelling method for laminates with wrinkle geometries measured from non-destructive testing and/or sample cross-sections. The resulting finite element modelling pre-processor offers a self-contained system of mesh generation, local material orientation calculation, material assignment, boundary condition selection and solver specification. The approach was validated by comparison with pre-existing analytical models and experimental data. Through the resulting rapid model generation, the influence of various physical wrinkle parameters were assessed at an unprecedented rate and sensitivity. For example, this highlighted the dominant dependence of wrinkle angle on the laminate's compressive strength. Additionally, increases in wrinkle extent and reductions in amplitude decay rate were shown to be detrimental to mechanical properties. The model was then validated against an experimental study on industrially relevant carbon-epoxy laminate samples to understand the effect out-of-plane waviness on compressive properties. The model results showed good agreement to the experimental values (<15% error) and at least a 32% reduction in compressive strength.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111055
JournalMaterials & Design
Early online date28 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2022


  • Carbon Fibre Composites
  • Compression Testing of Composites
  • Finite Element Analysis (FEA)
  • Fracture
  • Wrinkle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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