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Evaluation of Failure Behavior of Transversely Loaded Unidirectional Model Composites


A leading reason for the limited use of laminated composite materials in primary structural applications is that the failure initiates in the ply oriented transverse to the direction of the applied load at a much lower strain level than that which would cause the ultimate failure of the laminate. Previous studies indicate that transverse failure is manifested as either cavitation-induced failure of the matrix system or fiber-matrix debonding. The mechanism causing the failure initiation event is not decidedly known and depends on the local stress field of the constrained matrix that is a function of fiber spacing. In the present study a model composite system using a transparent matrix is employed in a cruciform-shaped specimen to evaluate the viability of several transverse failure theories. The cruciform-shaped specimen utilizes a low strain-to-failure 828/D230 RT cured epoxy and stainless steel wires arranged such that a fiber is placed at the intersection of face diagonals of four remaining fibers located at corners of a square. The transverse failure mechanism is observed in-situ via the reflected light method and recorded utilizing high resolution, high magnification microscope cameras. A parametric study is conducted using three dimensional finite element models to analyze the stress state in the cruciform specimen as a function of fiber spacing. The result of the 3-D FE models in conjunction with experimental observations are used to evaluate the transverse failure theories suggested in the literature. In addition this data will be used to develop a comprehensive failure criterion for transversely loaded multi-fiber composites that encompasses the dependence on fiber spacing.

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Correspondence to D. C. Foster.

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Foster, D.C., Tandon, G.P. & Zoghi, M. Evaluation of Failure Behavior of Transversely Loaded Unidirectional Model Composites. Exp Mech 46, 217–243 (2006).

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  • Cruciform specimen
  • Cavitation
  • Fiber-matrix debonds
  • Transverse failure