International Journal of Fracture

, Volume 148, Issue 4, pp 315–329

Effect of skin fracture on failure of a bilayer polymer structure


  • Marie-Aude Godart
    • Department of Mechanical EngineeringImperial College London
    • Department of Mechanical EngineeringImperial College London
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10704-008-9204-8

Cite this article as:
Godart, M. & Leevers, P. Int J Fract (2007) 148: 315. doi:10.1007/s10704-008-9204-8


A thin skin of low tensile failure strain, if bonded to the tensile surface of an un-notched impact bend specimen of much tougher material, can change the global failure mode from ductile to brittle. A novel model of this well-known effect is developed and applied to results from impact tests on a tough core of polyamide-polyethylene blend, with a single skin of brittle EVOH. At a fixed crosshead speed, notched specimens of the blend become brittle at a relatively low temperature T bt. Un-notched bilayer specimens continue to show skin fracture up to a considerably higher temperature T fs; above this temperature they do not fail at all but below T bt they too fail in a brittle manner. Within the temperature range from T fs down to T bt there is a transition from crack arrest, either at the skin/core interface or further into the core where a crack would not normally propagate, to brittle fracture. This brittle fracture temperature is predicted by modelling the process as a three-phase impact event. In the first phase, the striker bends the bilayer quasi-statically. The second phase begins with instantaneous fracture of the skin at its failure strain. The skin ends retract at finite speed, and a craze grows in the adjacent core material to accommodate the local strain singularity. The last phase is a striker-driven impact event similar to that in a notched bend specimen of the core material, except that the crack-tip craze already bears the adiabatic temperature distribution generated while it was driven open by skin retraction. The criterion for craze decohesion, and hence for a crack jump, is the same adiabatic decohesion criterion which accounts for the speed-dependence of impact fracture in notched monolayer specimens. Applied computationally, this model predicts whether a bilayer structure fails in a brittle way or whether cracks initiated in the skin are arrested, either temporarily or permanently, at the skin/core interface.


Adiabatic decohesion Crack arrest Fracture mechanisms Impact TPB tests Polymeric bilayer material Rapid crack propagation Surface embrittlement



Thermomechanical efficiency

ΔH f

Latent heat of fusion


Crack tip opening displacement (COD)

δ F

COD at end of skin retraction

δ r

COD under remote loading

δ u

COD under uniform cohesive stress


Crack tip opening rate


Initial COD rate during skin retraction

\({\epsilon_{\rm fs}}\)

Failure strain


Thermal diffusivity

λ F

Fibril draw ratio


Mass density


Relative craze density

σ c

Cohesive stress or craze stress

σ r

Remote stress

σ u

Uniform normal cohesive traction


Crack length


Thickness of a TPB specimen


Load point compliance


Craze length


Non-dimensional compliance

c 0

Longitudinal wave speed

C p

Specific heat


Displacement of the striker on a TPB specimen


Young’s modulus

E sec

Secant modulus


Load measured during a TPB test


Surface heat transfer coefficient


Finite volume cell number


Thermal conductivity

K Ir

Stress intensity factor under remote loading

K Iu

Stress intensity factor under uniform cohesive stress


Length of a TPB specimen

L 0

Cell size of finite volume model


Rate of heat generated per unit area


Geometry function of stress intensity factor under remote loading


Span of a TPB specimen


Skin thickness of a bilayer specimen

s c

Critical thickness of the melt layer in the adiabatic decohesion model





T 0

Initial test temperature

T bts

Transition temperature of a bilayer structures

T bt

Brittle/tough transition temperature

t dc

Failure time predicted by the adiabatic decohesion model

T fs

Temperature of failure of the skin of a bilayer structure

T m

Melting temperature


Geometry function of stress intensity factor under uniform cohesive stress


Width of a TPB specimen


Fourier number

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008