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Failure and damage progression of 3D woven composite structures subjected to out-of-plane loading

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posted on 04.06.2018, 08:25 by Dhaval Panchal
Three-dimensionally woven composites are a relatively new class of material that offer improved out-of-plane performance by including through-the-thickness mechanical reinforcement compared to traditional laminated composite structures. The mechanical properties are highly dependent upon the weave architecture as this dictates the nature of the through the thickness reinforcement and its effect in improving out-of-plane shear strength. A comparison of two testing methods, Short Beam Strength, and Five Point Bending was conducted over a range of span to thickness ratios with the latter found to be more consistent at producing shear failure over a greater range of span to thickness ratios, although evidence of matrix crushing was present in both, and flexural failure in the Short Beam Strength test. Two weave architectures, the orthogonal and angle weave were subjected to the Five Point Bending test and the failure and damage progression behaviour of both weave architectures were characterised using Digital Image Correlation analysis to measure the edge strain through the thickness of the specimens. This testing showed the angle weave architecture had in general a higher failure strength, and more gradual failure due to longer debonding cracks. The orthogonal weave architecture showed a characteristic post-failure response indicative of crack bridging with discrete load recovery and load drop phases. A numerical model developed from previous work builds on the mosaic modelling method and was modified to include cohesive elements in order to simulate interface debonding via the maximum stress criterion. The simulations are consistently 15 20% greater in failure loads, and 8 - 12% greater in failure shear stresses than those found from the averaged experimental results over the range of tested span to thickness ratios. Post failure response was not modelled. The work presented in this thesis is another step towards gaining a thorough understanding of the mechanical properties of 3D woven composite structures, focussing in particular on out of plane shear strength. The modified mosaic modelling method used showed it is effective at modelling the out of plane testing of orthogonal 3D woven composite structures, and offer the potential to predict the failure of larger composite structures of the same construction and 3D woven architecture although developments are still needed in modelling the post failure response.


EPSRC. GE Aviation.



  • Aeronautical, Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering


  • Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering


© Dhaval Panchal

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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