Loughborough University
Thesis-2013-Ullah.pdf (10.52 MB)

Analysis of mechanical behaviour and damage of carbon fabric-reinforced composites in bending

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posted on 2013-04-24, 08:24 authored by Himayat Ullah
Carbon fabric-reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites are widely used in aerospace, automotive and construction structures thanks to their high specific strength and stiffness. They can also be used in various products in sports industry. Such products can be exposed to different in-service conditions such as large bending deformations caused by quasi-static and dynamic loading. Composite materials subjected to such bending loads can demonstrate various damage modes - matrix cracking, delamination and, ultimately, fabric fracture. Damage evolution in composites affects both their in-service properties and performance that can deteriorate with time. Such damage modes need adequate means of analysis and investigation, the major approaches being experimental characterisation and numerical simulations. This work deals with a deformation behaviour and damage in carbon fabric-reinforced polymer (CFRP) laminates caused by quasi-static and dynamic bending. Experimental tests are carried out first to characterise the behaviour of a CFRP material under tension, in-plane shear and large-deflection bending in quasi-static conditions. The dynamic behaviour of these materials under large-deflection bending is characterised by Izod-type impact tests employing a pendulum-type impactor. A series of impact tests is performed on the material at various impact energy levels up to its fracture, to obtain a transient response of the woven CFRP laminate. Microstructural examination of damage is carried out by optical microscopy and X-ray micro computed tomography (Micro-CT). The damage analysis revealed that through thickness matrix cracking, inter-ply delaminations, intra-ply delamination such as tow debonding, and fabric fracture was the prominent damage modes. These mechanical tests and microstructural studies are accompanied by advanced numerical models developed in a commercial code Abaqus. Among those models are (i) 2D FE models to simulate experimentally observed inter-ply delamination, intra-ply fabric fracture and their subsequent interaction under quasi-static bending conditions and (ii) 3D FE models based on multi-body dynamics used to analyse interacting damage mechanisms in CFRP under large-deflection dynamic bending conditions. In these models, multiple layers of bilinear cohesive-zone elements are placed at the damage locations identified in the Micro CT study. Initiation and progression of inter-laminar delamination and intra-laminar ply fracture are studied by employing cohesive elements. Stress-based criteria are used for damage initiation while fracture-mechanics techniques are employed to capture its progression in composite laminates. The developed numerical models are capable to simulate the studied damage mechanisms as well as their subsequent interaction observed in the tests and microstructural damage analysis. In this study, a novel damage modelling technique based on the cohesive-zone method is proposed for analysis of interaction of various damage modes, which is more efficient than the continuum damage mechanics approach for coupling between failure modes. It was observed that the damage formation in the specimens was from the front to the back at the impact location in the large-deflection impact tests, unlike the back-to-front one in drop-weight tests. The obtained results of simulations showed a good agreement with experimental data, thus demonstrating that the proposed methodology can be used for simulations of discrete damage mechanisms and their interaction during the ultimate fracture of composites in bending. The main outcome of this thesis is a comprehensive experimental and numerical analysis of the deformation and fracture behaviours of CFRP composites under large-deflection bending caused by quasi-static and dynamic loadings. Recommendations on further research developments are also suggested.



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


© Himayat Ullah

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en