Characterisation of mechanical behaviour and damage analysis of 2D woven composites under bending

In this paper, flexural loading of woven carbon fabric-reinforced polymer laminates is studied using a combination of experimental material characterisation, microscopic damage analysis and numerical simulations. Mechanical behaviour of these materials was quantified by carrying out tensile and large-deflection bending tests. A substantial difference was found between the materials' tensile and flexural properties due to a size effect and stress stiffening of thin laminates. A digital image-correlation technique capable of full-field strain-measurement was used to determine in-plane shear properties of the studied materials. Optical microscopy and micro-computed tomography were employed to investigate deformation and damage mechanisms in the specimens fractured in bending. Various damage modes such as matrix cracking, delaminations, tow debonding and fibre fracture were observed in these microstructural studies. A two-dimensional finite-element (FE) model was developed to analyse the onset and propagation of inter-ply delamination and intra-ply fabric fracture as well as their coupling in the fractured specimen. The developed FE model provided a correct prediction of the material's flexural response and successfully simulated the sequence and interaction of damage modes observed experimentally.