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Title: Experimental and numerical analysis of damage in CFRP laminates under static and impact loading conditions
Author: Tsigkourakos, George
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2013
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Engineering composites and especially long fibre carbon composites have been in high demand not only in aerospace and automotive applications, but also in high end everyday applications. In aerospace, carbon composites are used predominantly for secondary structures attached by joints or fasteners to various alloys or even different composites, and are exposed to service loads and repetitive impacting. Impact fatigue (IF) is not studied adequately for long cycles and relevant literature is investigating mainly drop weight tests and high speed projectile experiments. The main aim of this research was to investigate the behaviour long fibre CFRP'S exposed to repeated low-velocity, low energy impacts, and to observe the damage effects of this regime on the structural integrity of these materials. Two types of specimen configurations using CFRPS's were used and exposed to loading conditions relevant to the Izod impact fatigue test (IIFT), and the tensile impact fatigue test (TIFT), in order to determine the fatigue behaviour of the specimens for each of these load conditions. For the IIFT, the fatigue life was investigated using IM7/8552 unidirectional specimens and T700/LTM45 cross-ply specimens were utilised for the TIFT. The specimen thicknesses were altered in both cases and parametric studies were carried out, where it was seen that IF results in high level of scatter and the apparent decrease in life was seen at relatively modest levels of maximum force after relatively few cycles. In the case of the IIFT, a durability limit was not apparent which increases the complications when designing against IF. In the case of the TIFT the stiffness deterioration was reflected as an increase of the loading time, in the force vs time graph, over the total fatigue life span. Fatigue crack growth was investigated using fractography and X-ray micro-CT at the micro and macro level. It was seen, that IF had the potential to initiate cracks and to cause their propagation at low levels of loading. For the IIFT, a single crack was growing substantially in the fibre direction and across the sample width causing matrix cracking and probably breaking of some fibres, which acted as impact wave guides since matrix cracks were propagating initially along the length of the fibres. In the case of the TIFT multiple damage modes were presented (matrix cracks, axial splits and delaminations). Their sequence and progression was successfully v captured and contrasted against the number of impacts. Axial splits governed the damage scenario, with delaminations extending between them and the free edges. For the TIFT, IF was studied using the force-life (F-Nf) and energy-life (E-Nf) curves. The tests undertaken showed that when halving the thickness of the laminates the fatigue life presented a 10-fold decrease as well as higher scatter. Finite element modelling was undertaken to validate the experimental data of the TIFT test. Successful simulation of a single impact was carried out using a fully transient 3-D model of the actual experiment configuration which involved geometric non-linearities in addition to the multiple contact conditions. The analysis was undertaken using the Abaqus 6.11 explicit solver. Since the numerical single impact results (force vs time response) was in agreement with the experimental results, the crack modes, experimentally observed, were also incorporated in the model utilising the use of the cohesive zone elements (CZE).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Impact fatigue ; CFRP ; CZM ; Tensile-impact ; Finite-element