Loughborough University
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Damage resistance and tolerance investigation of carbon/epoxy skinned honeycomb sandwich panels

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posted on 2012-07-17, 09:01 authored by Michelle D. Hill
This thesis documents the findings of a three year experimental investigation into the impact damage resistance and damage tolerance of composite honeycomb sandwich panels. The primary area of work focuses on the performance of sandwich panels under quasi-static and low-velocity impact loading with hemispherical and flat-ended indenters. The damage resistance is characterised in terms of damage mechanisms and energy absorption. The effects of varying the skin and core materials, skin thickness, core density, panel boundary conditions and indenter shape on the transverse strength and energy absorption of a sandwich panel have been examined. Damage mechanisms are found to include delamination of the impacted skin, core crushing, limited skin-core de bonding and top skin fibre fracture at high loads. In terms of panel construction the skin thickness is found to dominate the panel strength and energy absorption with core density having a lesser influence. Of the external factors considered the indenter noseshape has the largest effect on both failure load and associated damage area. An overview of existing analytical prediction methods is also included and the most significant theories applied and compared with the experimental results from this study. The secondary area of work expands the understanding obtained from the damage resistance study and assesses the ability of a sandwich panel to withstand in-plane compressive loading after sustaining low-velocity impact damage. The importance of the core material is investigated by comparing the compression-after-impact strength of both monolithic carbon-fibre laminates and sandwich panels with either an aluminium or nomex honeycomb core. The in-plane compressive strength of an 8 ply skinned honeycomb sandwich panel is found to be double that of a 16 ply monolithic laminate, with the type of honeycomb also influencing the compressive failure mechanisms and residual compressive strength. It is concluded that under in-plane loading the stabilising effect of the core opposes the de-stabilising effect of any impact damage.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


© Michelle Hill

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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