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AN EXPERIMENTAL ANALYSIS OF COMPOSITE LAMINATE PROGRESSIVE

FAILURE
A. Zucchelli1, V. Dal Re2
University of Bologna, Engineering Department, DIEM, viale Risorgimento 2, Bologna , Italy
1

andrea.zucchelli@mail.ing.unibo.it, 2 vincenzo.dalre@mail.ing.unibo.it

Introduction. Composite laminate failure progression is a wide and complex problem that is studied considering two
points of view: experimental and numerical. The experimental investigations are developed considering static, fatigue
and impact load conditions and for all of them the aim of the research is the residual composite laminate life estimation.
The theoretical-numerical studies are focused on models able to predict the composite laminate stiffness loss by a
continuum [1] or a discrete [2] approach. The bridge between numerical capability to predict the material behavior and
real data is based on special techniques as X-Rays radiography, ultrasound inspection, thermography, acoustic emission
(AE) monitoring. In this work laboratory tests on composite laminate are monitored by AE technique in order to have
data about failure modes and information that can be used in a theoretical discrete progressive failure model.

Results and Discussion


Several specimens of each of the aforementioned types
were tested in tension. The experimental results
analysis and discussion is organized in two phases:
during the first one the only classical mechanical
information (stress and strain) are considered, during
the second phase the AE information are analyzed and
related to the material mechanical response.
The stress-strain displacement curve reveals the great
importance of the fiber direction and also the small but
not negligible influence of the ply sequence in the
laminate.
The UD laminate, at the contrary to AP, reveals an
high value of ultimate strength (over 2000 MPa) and a
smooth non linear trend. Laboratory tests of UD reveal
that before final brutal rupture of fiber there was matrix

cracking with leakage at the external layers and on the


free edge, near the middle plane, a fair delamination.
Stress vs Strain
2500
2000
Stress (MPa)

Materials and Experimental Procedure


Gr-Ep composite laminates have been tested, and the
lay-up considered are as follow: (1) unidirectional
[0]8, 60 % Fiber Volume, 1.4 mm thick, (UD); (2)
angle-ply [45]4S, 30% Fiber Volume, 2.8 mm thick,
(AP); (3) symmetric-balanced [0, 45, 90]4S, 60%
Volume Fraction, 1.4 mm thick, (QI1); (4) symmetricbalanced [0,90, 45]4S, 60% Volume Fraction, 1.4
mm thick, (QI2); (5) symmetric-balanced [0,90,
45]4S, 30% Volume Fraction, 2.8 mm thick, (QI3).
Specimen dimensions were: 250 mm in length and 25
mm in width. Tests have done loading the specimens in
their plane in a tension condition using an INSTRON
8032 with a 100 kN load-cell, under displacement
control. The AE has been monitored by a Physical
Acoustic Corporation (PAC) PCI-DSP4 device with
two transducers PAC R15.

1500

UD

1000

QI1

QI2
QI3
AP

500
0
0

0.005

0.01

0.015 0.02 0.025


Strain (mm/mm)

0.03

0.035

0.04

Fig. 1 Stress-Strain curve, particular of UD and QI


The QI laminate family reveals a fair homogeneous
behavior in terms of ultimate strength (from 333 MPa
to 593 MPa) and the non linear trends are not so strong
if compared to the AP composite. It is interesting to
notice that the QI1 laminate, the one that have the
lowest angular gradient in terms of fiber orientation
(first ply 0, second ply +45, third ply -45 and then
90) is characterized by the highest ultimate stress and
ultimate strain values of its family. Comparing the QI2
and QI3 stress and strain results there is an interesting
trend: QI2 has an higher value of ultimate stress than
QI3 (537 MPa instead of 350 MPa) but it has a lower
value of ultimate stain. This results are on average
related to the staking sequence and the fiber volume
percentage. In fact QI1 and QI2 have the same fiber
volume percentage but different staking sequence and,
on the other hand, QI2 and QI3 have the same staking
sequence but different fiber volume percentage.

M.V.

C.V.

M.V.

C.V.

UD

2134

0.03

0.038

0.24

AP

128

0.05

0.106

0.29

QI1

570

0.04

0.030

0.21

QI2

536

0.03

0.021

0.23

QI3

350

0.05

0.023

0.26

progression of acoustic events during the material test


and has been organized in two parts: (1) the first part is
focused on the correlation between the acoustic events
progression and the test driven parameter (strain); (2)
the second part is based on the relation between the
mechanical and acoustic information in order to
identify the material progressive failure trend. About
the first type of analysis, it is interesting to consider
two types of information: information about the AE
event time shape and AE event energy content. The
wave mean shape have been deduced and reconstruct
by the mean value of rise time, duration, and counts
recorded during the overall tests. In particular all
diagrams are characterized by a possible wave shape
and by a triangular domain that limit the event sensible
region (Fig. 2). Thanks to AE wave mean shape
diagrams it possible to stress the differences between
the laminate AE release and it is also possible to
imagine their physical origin. As an example in the
case of UD laminate shape of the mean simulacra of
the AE event is related to a well mixed fiber-matrix
failure progression during the test, Fig. 2.
UD

Rise Time = 11 sec


Duration = 113 sec
Counts = 13

1
3
5

1.E-02
1.E-04

2
4

1.E-06
1.E-08
1.E-10
1.E-12
1.E-14
1.E-16
0

0.005

0.01
0.015
Strain (mm/mm)

0.02

0.025

Fig. 3 Acoustic Energy (J) vs Strain (mm/mm)


diagram organized in five failure regions for QI3
In order to perform a deeper analysis of the laminate
failure progression the ratio of the strain energy and of
the acoustic energy has been considered:
=Ln(Estif/Eac). Function aim to take into account
simultaneously two types of information: mechanical
(material stiffness), and acoustic (acoustic event).
Meaning of function is the continuous balancing
between the material stiffness capability (stored
stiffness energy) and the material stiffness loss due to
failures (acoustic energy). The increasing trend of
characterize the strain energy storing test phases, the
brutal break of is related to the instantaneous strain
energy release, measured by the acoustic emission, the
constant trend of characterize the phases during
which a progressive strain energy storing is
superimposed to the damage progression, Fig. 4.
Ln(Estiff/Eac) & Stress vs Strain (QI3)
25

800
700

20

600

15

500

10

300

400

Ln(Estiff/Eac)

200

Load

100

0
0

0.005

0.01

0.015

0.02

Stress (MPa)

Ultimate Strain
(mm/mm)

Acoustic Energy vs Strain (QI3)


1.E+00

Eac (J)

Laminate
type

Ultimate Stress
(MPa)

versus the specimen strain. This approach is useful to


identify the progression of the failures (matrix
cracking, Fail1, delamination, Fail2 & Fail3, fiber
breaking, Fail4 & Fail5) and in particular their
superposition.

Ln(Estiff/Eac)

The second phase of the characterization of the


laminate behavior is based on the AE information
recorded during the test. The AE parameters considered
for the analysis are: rise time, counts, duration,
amplitude, energy. Based on these parameters and in
order to have a clear scenario of the multiple material
response phases two types of analysis have been
developed: the first aims to give a general trend of
laminate acoustic emission and their characteristics.
The second analysis is focused on the analysis of the

0
0.025

Strain (mm/mm)

25 sec

Fig. 2 Simulacrum of the AE wave


mean shape for UD
About the acoustic energy it was found a good
correlation between the high AE energy level and the
breakage of strong constituent, fibers, and, the small
AE energy content and the soft constituent, matrix.
In Fig. 3 the AE energy information, organized in five
failure types as proposed by Siron&Tsuda, are plotted

Fig. 4 energy ratio diagram for QI2, QI3, AP


and UD laminates
References
[1] I. M. Daniel, O. Ishai, Engineering Mechanics of
Composite Materials, Oxford Univ. Press, 1994.
[2] Mil-HDBK-17-3E, Ch. 4, Design and Analysis,
1999.
[3] Siron O, Tsuda H, Acoustic Emission in Carbon
Fibre-Reinforced Plastics Materials, Ann. De
Chimie Science des Matriaux, 25, 7, pp. 533537, 2000.