Crack Propagation in Thermosetting Polymers
Thermosetting polymers are widely used as matrix materials in fibre- reinforced composites. They are generally brittle and their fracture properties are of considerable interest. Recent developments in the study of crack propagation in thermosetting polymers have been reviewed using a linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) approach. It has been shown that considerable advances have recently been made in understanding the criteria controlling crack propagation. It appears that for both continuous and stick/slip propagation the criterion for failure is that a critical stress of the order of 3–4 times the yield stress of the material must be achieved at a critical distance ahead of the crack. The possibility of crazing and the effect of microstructure upon crack propagation have also been discussed.
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