3D woven composites, due to the presence of through-thickness fibre-bridging, have the potential to improve damage tolerance and at the same time to reduce the manufacturing costs. However, ability to withstand damage depends on weave topology as well as geometry of individual tows. There is an extensive literature on damage tolerance of 2D prepreg laminates but limited work is reported on the damage tolerance of 3D weaves. In view of the recent interest in 3D woven composites from aerospace as well as non-aerospace sectors, this paper aims to provide an understanding of the impact damage resistance as well as damage tolerance of 3D woven composites. Four different 3D woven architectures, orthogonal, angle interlocked, layer-to-layer and modified layer-to-layer structures, have been produced under identical weaving conditions. Two additional structures, Unidirectional (UD) cross-ply and 2D plain weave, have been developed for comparison with 3D weaves. All the four 3D woven laminates have similar order of magnitude of damage area and damage width, but significantly lower than UD and 2D woven laminates. Damage Resistance, calculated as impact energy per unit damage area, has been shown to be significantly higher for 3D woven laminates. Rate of change of CAI strength with impact energy appears to be similar for all four 3D woven laminates as well as UD laminate; 2D woven laminate has higher rate of degradation with respect to impact energy. Undamaged compression strength has been shown to be a function of average tow waviness angle. Additionally, 3D weaves exhibit a critical damage size; below this size there is no appreciable reduction in compression strength. 3D woven laminates have also exhibited a degree of plasticity during compression whereas UD laminates fail instantly. The experimental work reported in this paper forms a foundation for systematic development of computational models for 3D woven architectures for damage tolerance.
3D weaves Impact Damage tolerance Compression after impact