Mixed-mode delamination growth in carbon-fibre composite laminates under cyclic loading

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Delamination growth under fatigue loads in real composite components generally develops in a non-constant propagation mode. The aim of the investigation described in this article was to develop a model capable of predicting the fatigue delamination growth in a general case, under varying mode mix conditions. The crack growth development in essentially unidirectional laminates of carbon-fibre reinforced epoxy was analysed in terms of the Paris law for different constant propagation modes: mode I (double-cantilever beam test), mode II (end-notched flexure test) and different mixed-modes I/II (mixed-mode bending test). The dependence of the Paris law parameters on mode mix is compared with the existing models in the literature. It is shown that these models do not reproduce the non-monotonic dependence on mode mix which has been observed in experimental data. Therefore, an improved phenomenological model is introduced and compared with the experimental data obtained by other researchers. To check the ability of the model to predict variable mixed-mode fatigue delamination, the mixed-mode end-loaded split test was employed and the experimental results were compared to the predictions of the model. The underlying mechanisms responsible for the dependency of the crack propagation rates on the degree of mode mix are also discussed on the basis of fractographic analysis ​
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