Experimental methods for the study of mixed-mode fractures
EplettMatthew R.
2017
Any composite material is made up from two or more materials and therefore contains interfaces, which usually represent planes of weakness. Interfacial fractures are effectively constrained to propagate along these interfaces as mixed-mode fractures with all three opening, shearing and tearing actions (i.e. mode I, mode II and mode III), instead of kinking to maintain pure-mode-I conditions at the advancing crack front, as would typically happen in an isotropic material. This is significant because mixed-mode fracture toughness is load-dependent and not a purely intrinsic material property (although clearly the pure mode fracture toughnesses are indeed intrinsic material properties that can be determined experimentally). Therefore, in order to know the fracture toughness under general loading conditions, it is necessary to know both the interface failure criterion (that describes the fracture toughness as a function of the mode mixity), and the mode mixity of the crack under the specified loading conditions. This is a complex problem that has occupied researchers in the fracture mechanics community for decades. Consequently, the literature contains a large number of different mixed-mode partition theories.
This work appears to show that, of all the partition theories assessed, Wang and Harvey s (2012a) Euler beam partition theory is able to most accurately predict the fracture toughness of a mixed-mode delamination in a fibre-reinforced polymer composite laminate. This statement is based on the outcomes of three separate studies:
The first study uses data reported in the literature from a thorough programme of mixed-mode fracture testing of unidirectional and multi-directional laminates. The Euler beam partition theory is able to accurately predict the fracture toughness in all cases. Furthermore, the Euler beam partition theory, which is completely analytical, closely agrees over a large domain with Davidson et al. s (2000) independently-derived non-singular field partition theory, which was derived with the aid of experimental test results. In general, the singular-field approach based on 2D elasticity and the finite element method give poor predictions.
In the second study, an original programme of mixed-mode fracture testing is carried out, which incorporates several novel aspects including new test apparatus and a methodology for testing with a wide range of applied pure bending moments. Eighty five fracture tests are performed on unidirectional glass/epoxy laminates to determine the initiation and propagation fracture toughnesses. Although the second study was inconclusive with respect to the correctness of any particular partition theory, the development of the test apparatus and test methodology are considered to be major contributions that will be useful for both design engineers and academic researchers, not only working with fibre-reinforced polymer composite laminates, but also working with other composite materials containing interfacial cracks.
The third study uses digital image correlation to investigate the near-crack tip strain fields of mixed-mode delaminations to try to discover the underlying mechanics that govern the selection of a mixed-mode partition theory. The new testing apparatus is used again, and another novel testing methodology is developed. The work appears to confirm (with some caveats) that two sets of pure modes exist, that is, two pure mode I modes, and two pure mode II modes, with their numerical values roughly corresponding to those from Wang and Harvey s (2012a) Euler beam partition theory. It should be noted that, as far as the author s knowledge is concerned, Euler beam partition theory is the only one in the literature to predict the existence of two sets of pure modes.
Although this work set out to conclusively determine which mixed-mode partition theory is able to most accurately predict the fracture toughness of a mixed-mode delamination in a fibre-reinforced polymer composite laminate, and also, to discover why, the outcomes cannot truly be called conclusions . Rather, they only offer strong support for Wang and Harvey s (2012a) Euler beam partition theory for predicting the fracture toughness fibre-reinforced polymer composite laminates against delamination. Despite this, the work makes major contributions that will be useful for both design engineers and academic researchers in the field, as described in the above.