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Title: Multi-axial fracture behaviour of notched carbon-fibre/epoxy laminates
Author: Tan, Julian Lip Yi
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 9582
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2015
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Carbon-fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) laminates are widely used in various engineering applications, such as in race cars and aircrafts, because they are light, stiff and strong. They commonly contain stress raisers in the form of holes and notches (for mechanical joining methods, routing of pipes and cables etc.) and are also often subjected to complex combined multi-axial stress conditions during service. Yet their notched multi-axial fracture behaviour remains largely unexplored. This is the main contribution of the thesis. First, a novel loading fixture for applying a wide range of in-plane loading modes is developed based on the popular Arcan’s method. Termed the ‘modified Arcan rig’, it utilises friction gripping to transfer loads into tabbed specimens. This loading fixture is used to test centre-notched multi-directional CFRP laminates under different combinations of tension and shear stresses. Together with penetrant-enhanced X-ray CT and laminate de-ply, the fracture behaviour of quasi-isotropic CFRP specimens is investigated for the following loading modes: pure tension, pure compression, in-plane shear, and combined tension and shear. Two notch geometries (sharp notch and circular hole) are investigated to allow for an assessment of the role of stress concentration upon strength and damage development to be performed. Three distinct fracture modes are observed in a tensile/compressive-shear stress space (termed Mechanism A, Mechanism B and Mechanism C). It is observed that quasi-isotropic specimens with a central sharp notch are consistently stronger than equivalent specimens with a central circular hole (for all stress states investigated). An underlying micromechanical explanation concerning the effects of damage upon strength is proposed. Second, a finite element (FE) model is developed using the commercial FE program, Abaqus FEA to simulate the observed progressive damage and failure in the quasi-isotropic specimens. The FE model employs independent material property data as inputs. Overall, good correlation between the simulations and the experiments is obtained, validating the FE strategy. The capabilities of the model are extended to predict the notched fracture behaviour of the specimens under combined compression and shear loading, for which experimental work has not been done by the author, but for which literature data exists. Finally, the effect of laminate lay-up upon the notched multi-axial fracture behaviour of the CFRP specimens is explored by considering a 0° ply-dominated lay-up, a ±45° ply-dominated lay-up and a cross-ply lay-up, alongside the quasi-isotropic lay-up. Experiments reveal that all lay-ups exhibit Mechanisms A, B and C. However, the extent of damage in each Mechanism as well as the regime in which each Mechanism operates in (in the failure envelopes) strongly depend on the lay-up of the specimen. As expected, the tensile strengths and compressive strengths increase with the proportion of 0° plies. Surprisingly, the shear strengths do not scale with the proportion of ±45° plies; the specimen geometry and material orthotropy are attributed as reasons for this. In contrast to the case of the quasi-isotropic lay-up, the extent of subcritical damage induced by the circular hole is not always lower than that induced by the sharp notch for the other lay-ups. The difference in the extent of damage between both notch geometries is reflected in the notched strengths of the lay-up in question. These experimental observations are adequately predicted by the FE strategy, which further validates it as a reliable predictive tool for composite fracture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: carbon fibre ; laminates ; multi-axial loading ; modified Arcan rig ; damage mechanisms ; FE analysis ; stress concentration effects ; lay-up effects