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IMPACT DAMAGE ON FIBREREINFORCED POLYMER

MATRIX COMPOSITES

1. INTRODUCTION

Fibre-reinforced Polymer matrix (FRP) composites are the most common advanced
composites consisting of a polymer (e.g., epoxy, polyester) reinforced by thin diameter fibres
(e.g., graphite, glass, carbon fibre).

Fibre reinforced polymer (FRP) composites are being promoted as the materials of 21 st
century because of their low cost, high strength, superior corrosion resistance and simple
manufacturing principles.
Commercial and industrial applications of FRP composites are so varied that it is impossible
to list them all.
Potential use of fiber-reinforced polymer composites exists in many engineering fields.
Putting them to actual use requires careful design practice appropriate process development.

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Engineering, NIE Mysore

1.1 Major Application Areas of FRP Composites :


Aircraft
Space
Automotive
Sporting goods
Marine
Military
Infrastructure
Electronics
Power industry
Oil industry
Medical industry
.And many more

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1.2 IMPACT ON FIBREREINFORCED COMPOSITE MATERIAL


The damage of composite structures caused by impact events is one of the most critical
behaviours that inhibit more widespread application of composite material.
Air vehicles may be subjected to impact loads by foreign objects such as debris from
runways, bird strikes or hailstones (during flight).
Most fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites are brittle and so they can only absorb
energy in elastic deformation and through damage mechanisms, and not via plastic
deformation.
Most of the impacts on a composite structure will be in the transverse direction but due to the
lack of through thickness reinforcement, transverse damage resistance is particularly poor.
The Impact damage could significantly diminish their strength although this may not be
detected sometimes by visual inspection. Such impact-induced damages occur inside the
material and increase after the onset of small delaminations.

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Engineering, NIE Mysore

Aircraft damage by Bird strike

F1 sports cars crash

Wave impact damage to a multihull forward beam in yatch

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2. CLASSIFICATION OF IMPACTS
VELOCITY OF IMPACT
The impact velocity is one of the fundamental quantities in impact dynamics. Impacts are generally
classified into four categories as low-velocity impact, high-velocity impact, ballistic impact and hyper
velocity impact.
1.

Low velocity impact: occur at velocities less than 11 m/s. Example: Aircraft damage by service
trucks, cargo containers, dropped tools during maintenance operations, etc.

2.

High velocity impact: occur at velocities greater than 11 m/s. Example: Debris from the runway
hitting the fuselage during take-off or landing of aircraft, hail, and bird strikes.

3.

Ballistic impact: occur at velocities greater than 500 m/s. which is normally a concern for military
applications.

4.

Hypervelocity impact: occur at velocities greater than 2000 m/s. Example: Impact of space debris on
a spacecraft.
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Engineering, NIE Mysore

3. IMPACT RESPONSE
Impact initiates elastic waves propagating from the point of impact.
Material damping and energy dissipation related to wave propagation will result in a decaying
response.
The duration of impact plays a key role in determining the type of impact responses.
If the impact duration is very small-response will be dominated by through-the-thickness
waves. Example: Ballistic impact
For longer impact duration, the response will be governed by flexure and shear waves.
Example: Impact of runway debris
If the impact duration is much longer than the time for the waves to reach the structure
boundaries, the resulting response will be quasi-static. Example: Impact from drop-weights

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An efficient approach to study the effect of impact on FRP composite structures is to


separately analyse two aspects of impact, namely impact damage resistance and impact
damage tolerance.
Impact damage resistance addresses the response and damage of the structures caused by an
impact.
On the other hand, impact damage tolerance deals with the effect of existing impact damage
on the strength and stability of the structures.

(a)

(b)
Different Impact Responses

(c)

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Engineering, NIE Mysore

4. IMPACT TESTS

To simulate actual impact by a foreign object, a number of test procedures have been
suggested by many researchers.

The initial kinetic energy of the projectile is an important parameter to be considered.

For example, during aircraft takeoff and landing, debris flying from the runway can cause
damage; this situation, with small high-velocity projectiles, is best simulated using a gas gun.

Impact of a composite structure by a larger projectile at low velocity which occurs when tools
are accidentally dropped on a structure. This situation is best simulated using a drop weight
tester.

Drop weight testers are used extensively and can be of different designs. Heavy impactors are
usually guided by a rail during free fall from a given height.

Pendulum-type systems (Charpy impact tests) are used to generate low-velocity impacts.

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The Zwick/Roell Charpy test rig

Ballistic impact testing device

The drop-weight impact tower


High velocity impact testing
device (gas gun)

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5. PARAMETERS AFFECTING IMPACT DAMAGE


The extensive experimental work conducted up to now created an understanding of the
parameters that affect the initiation and growth of impact damage.
Projectile characteristics, Material properties, Laminate thickness, layup and stitching, Preload
as well as Environmental conditions are some of the major factors which affect impact damage
in FRP composites.

5.1 PROJECTILE CHARACTERISTICS


Impactor shape and weight of impactor play a significant role in impact damage.
In past research, the most common impactor shape used has been hemispherical. some
researchers have used other impactor shapes such as flat-ended , ogival and conical.
The damage initiation in glass fibre (GF) reinforced epoxy plates subjected to low-velocity
impact loading showed that the damage initiation threshold increasing steadily with increasing
projectile diameter.

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Study on carbon/epoxy laminates showed that the damage threshold load was highest for the
hemispherical impactor followed by the ogival and conical impactors, respectively.
Specimens impacted by the conical impactor absorbed the most energy and produced the
largest penetration depth. The blunter hemispherical impactor produced the largest peak force
and shortest contact duration.
Different impactor shapes will produce different damage mechanisms and areas in composite
laminates; hence the residual properties of the material will change according to the impactor
shape.

Impactor shapes: (a) Hemispherical (b) ogival and (c) conical


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5.2 MATERIAL PROPERTIES


Mechanical properties of fibre-reinforced composites are dependent on the properties of the
constituent materials (type, quantity, fibre distribution and orientation and void content).
Investigation on the effect of composite hybridisation on high velocity impact behaviour
showed that the addition of Glass fibre to CFRP and boron/epoxy system could improve the
impact strength.
Study on Crack growth in hybrid fibrous composites shown that the stability of transverse
crack in a very brittle matrix could be increased substantially by inclusion of a second fibre
component.
Hybridising graphite composites with additional tough high strain-to-failure fibres give better
damage resistance of composite structures under impact loading.

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5.3 LAMINATE THICKNESS, LAYUP AND STITCHING


Target stiffness depends on material properties as well as on the thickness of the laminate, the
layup, its size and the boundary conditions.
The stiffness in the thickness direction has a significant effect on the magnitude of the
maximum contact force which of course will affect the extent of the damage induced.
Low velocity impact tests on carbon/epoxy laminates of different thicknesses showed that the
damage initiation threshold force varies with t3/2 where t is the thickness of the composite.
The stacking sequence also plays a very important role on the impact resistance of laminates.
For two plates with the same thickness but with different stacking sequences, the one with the
higher differences of angle between two adjacent plies will experience higher delamination
areas.
Stitching density and pattern and properties of the thread can be varied to improve
delamination resistance.

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5.4 PRELOAD
Most composite structures will be under some level of stress when impacted.
For example, the upper layer of the main wing of the aircraft will be mainly under in-plane
compressive load during flight and the lower one will be under in-plane tensile load.
Very often, a composite structure experiences impact loading in addition to the pre-existing
stresses produced either by service loads or by manufacturing/assembly process
Experimental result showed that as the initial inplane load increases, the impact duration
decreases and the impact load increases.

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5.5 ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS


Because most composite structures are used outdoors, it cannot be avoided that composite
structures are subjected to various environmental conditioning.
A few researchers have showed the effect of environmental aspects on impact damage such as
low temperature, UV rays, etc.
The energy required for initiating damage had been found to decrease with temperature.
Temperature has a significant effect on the low velocity impact responses of laminated
composites. More impact damage is induced in specimens impacted at lower temperatures than
those at higher temperatures.
UV radiation alone has a significant effect on reducing the residual load-carrying capacity of
impact damaged laminated beams. The presence of water increased the damage effect of UV
radiation.

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6. MODES OF FAILURE
The properties of fibre, matrix and the inter phase region, affect the threshold energies or
stresses required to initiate the different failure modes induced by impact.
Impact damage usually follows some very complex distributions and it may not be possible to
reconstruct the entire sequence of events leading to a given damage state.
A High velocity impact can be characterized by penetration induced fibre breakage, and low
velocity impact by delamination and matrix cracking.
The Heterogeneous and anisotropic nature of fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) laminates result in
four major modes of failure due to low velocity impact:
a. Matrix Damage
b. Delamination
c. Fibre failure
d. Penetration
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a. MATRIX DAMAGE
Matrix damage is the first type of failure induced by a transverse low-velocity impact.
In some cases, the target is flexible and the crack is created by tensile flexural stresses in the
bottom ply of laminate, this crack, which is usually perpendicular to the plane of the laminate,
is called a tensile crack.
For thick laminates, cracks appear near the top of the laminate and are created by the contact
stresses. These cracks, called shear cracks, are inclined relative to the mid-plane.
Matrix cracks induce delaminations at interfaces between adjacent plies and initiate a pattern
of damage evolution either from the bottom up or from the top down.

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b. DELAMINATION
Delamination is a crack which runs in the resin-rich area between plies of different fibre
orientation; it is not between lamina in the same ply group.
Delamination is a result of the mismatch between the two adjacent laminates, such as different
fibre orientations between the layers. Greater the mismatch (0/90 is the worst-case fibre
orientation), greater the delamination area will be.
Both bending cracks and shear cracks could initiate delamination, but the delamination
induced by shear cracks is unstable and the bending crack induced delamination grows in a
stable manner and proportional to the applied load.

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c. FIBRE FAILURE
This damage mode generally occurs much later in the fracture process than matrix cracking
and delamination.
Fibre failure occurs under the penetrators due to locally high stresses and the indentation
effects of shear forces, and on the non-impacted face due to high bending stresses.
Fibre failure is a precursor to the catastrophic penetration mode.
d. PENETRATION
Penetration is a macroscopic mode of failure.
It occurs when the fibre failure reaches a critical extent, enabling the penetrators to completely
penetrate the material.
It is easy to predict the orientation of matrix cracking fibres of unidirectional layers, while the
crack patterns of randomly oriented layers are less easy to establish.

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Schematic illustrations for different Impact damage modes

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7. CONCLUSION
There has been a growing interest, particularly in the past few decades, in the use of FRP
composite materials in various structural applications.
However, their behaviour under impact loading is one of the major concerns, since impacts do
occur during manufacture, normal operations, maintenance, etc.
Polymer-matrix composites are known to be highly susceptible to internal damage caused by
transverse loads even under low-velocity impacts.
For the effective use of polymer-matrix composites for high performance applications,
understanding the causes of the formation of such damage when subjected to low- and highvelocity impact and improving the damage - resistance characteristics of the composites are
important considerations.
The prediction of the post-impact load bearing capability of a damaged composite structure is
more difficult than for metals.

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The damage zone of a composite is generally complex in nature and very difficult to
characterise. The problem is further complicated by the lack of existing standards or
established testing techniques for the impact damage of composite materials.
Vast research has been performed on simple geometry carbon/epoxy cross-ply laminates
consisting of plies at various fibre orientations, due to their importance in the aerospace
industry.
The low-velocity impact response of random fibre/unidirectional laminate combinations and
impacts on complex geometry are less well documented.
More research work is required in area of impact damage of FRP matrix composites if they are
to be employed in more structural applications and continuous structure health monitoring can
be performed to prevent any major incident and catastrophic failure.

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REFERENCES
1. Sandeep Agarwal, Kalyan Kumar singh and P K sarkar, Impact damage on fibre reinforced
polymer matrix composites a review-Journal of composite Materials-2014.
2. N.Razil,M.T.H. Sultan, F. Mustapha, N.Yirdris and M.R Ishak, Impact Damage on composite
Structures A Review- International Journal Of engineering and Sciences(IJES)-Volume 3,2014.
3. P. K. Mallick, Fiber- Reinforced Composites Materials, Manufacturing and design, Text
Book (Third edition),CRC Press-2008.
4. Autar K. Kaw, Mechanics of Composite Materials,Text Book(Second edition),CRC Press2006.

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THANK YOU

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