Resin treatment of free edges to aid certification of through thickness laminate strength

Timothy A. Fletcher, Tatiana Kim, Timothy J. Dodwell, Richard Butler, Robert Scheichl, Richard Newley

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Large aerospace parts are typically certified by testing narrow specimens, such as curved laminates, which have exposed free edges. These edges (not present in the production part) have been found to reduce the 3D strength of curved laminates by over 20%, showing this certification method is unreasonably conservative. The free edges also create a singularity, such that finite element (FE) modelling is challenging, which is typically approximated using non-linear analysis of cohesive interlaminar zones. A new treatment process is developed whereby a layer of resin is applied to the free edges of curved laminates. This significantly reduces the edge effect and delays failure. The resin edge treatment increases the strength of the curved laminate test specimens by 16%. The treatment also simplifies FE modelling by allowing for non-zero stresses normal to the laminate edge, removing the singularity. This enables use of linear FE models, which converge at the laminate edge. A linear FE method developed in this paper is conservative and predicts the strength of treated curved laminates to within 5% of the average test value. Hence it is shown that the resin edge treatment can be used to improve reliability of both certification tests and FE models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalComposite Structures
Early online date2 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2016


  • curved laminates
  • 4-point bending
  • free edge
  • edge effect


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