Large deformation of thermally bonded random fibrous networks: microstructural changes and damage

A mechanical behaviour of random fibrous networks is predominantly governed by their microstructure. This study examines the effect of microstructure on macroscopic deformation and failure behaviour of random fibrous networks and its practical implication for optimisation of its structure by using finite-element simulations. A subroutine-based parametric modelling approach-a tool to develop and characterise random fibrous networks-is also presented. Here, a thermally bonded polypropylene nonwoven fabric is used as a model system. Its microstructure is incorporated into the model by explicit introduction of fibres according to their orientation distribution in the fabric. The model accounts for main deformation and damage mechanisms experimentally observed and provides the meso- and macro-level responses of the fabric. The suggested microstructure-based approach identifies and quantifies the spread of stresses and strains in fibres of the network as well as its structural evolution during deformation and damage. Its simulations also predict a continuous shift in the distribution of stresses due to structural evolution and progressive failure of fibres. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York.