Bending strength of delaminated aerospace composites

Moustafa Kinawy, Richard Butler, Giles W Hunt

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Buckling-driven delamination is considered among the most critical failure modes in composite laminates. This paper examines the propagation of delaminations in a beam under pure bending. A pre-developed analytical model to predict the critical buckling moment of a thin sub-laminate is extended to account for propagation prediction, using mixed-mode fracture analysis. Fractography analysis is performed to distinguish between mode I and mode II contributions to the final failure of specimens. Comparison between experimental results and analysis shows agreement to within 5 per cent in static propagation moment for two different materials. It is concluded that static fracture is almost entirely driven by mode II effects. This result was unexpected because it arises from a buckling mode that opens the delamination. For this reason, and because of the excellent repeatability of the experiments, the method of testing may be a promising means of establishing the critical value of mode II fracture toughness, GIIC, of the material. Fatigue testing on similar samples showed that buckled delamination resulted in a fatigue threshold that was over 80 per cent lower than the static propagation moment. Such an outcome highlights the significance of predicting snap-buckling moment and subsequent propagation for design purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1780-1797
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A - Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1965
Early online date19 Mar 2012
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2012


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