Original Paper

International Journal of Fracture

, Volume 148, Issue 4, pp 315-329

First online:

Effect of skin fracture on failure of a bilayer polymer structure

  • Marie-Aude GodartAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London
  • , Patrick LeeversAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College London Email author 

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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