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Composite Structures 59 (2003) 119127 www.elsevier.


The response of laminated composite plates under low-velocity impact loading

leyha Aslan *, Ramazan Karakuzu, Buket Okutan Zu
_ zmir, Turkey Department of Mechanical Engineering, Dokuz Eyl ul University, Bornova, I

Abstract This paper is concerned with evaluation of the in-plane dimensional eect of ber-reinforced laminated composites under lowvelocity impact. (0/90/0/90)s oriented cross-ply E-glass/epoxy laminates studied were manufactured and all of the material parameters of laminated composite materials were measured experimentally. The impact testing was conducted with a specially developed vertical drop-weight testing machine. Impact tests were performed at impactor masses of 135 and 2600 g and an impact velocity of 3 m/s. The studies were carried out on plate dimensions of 150 mm 150 mm, 150 mm 100 mm and 150 mm 50 mm with two opposite sides clamped and the other two free and impact load applied at the center of each plate. A numerical simulation was performed using 3DIMPACT transient dynamic nite element analysis code for calculating stresses and contact forces of the composite plates during impact along with a failure analysis for predicting the threshold of impact damage and initiation of delaminations. 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: E-glass/epoxy; Laminated composite materials; Impact; Low velocity; Drop weight

1. Introduction Composite laminates are being increasingly used in dierent engineering elds due to their inherently high specic mechanical properties. These materials are used not only in the aircraft industry, but in civil, mechanical, and other disciplines in which they are subjected to a wide spectrum of loadings during in-service use. Dynamic loadings, in particular (impact type events), represent a serious design concern for use of laminated composites for in-service applications as, for example, dropping of tools during maintenance. Laminated composite structures are more susceptible to impact damage than similar metallic structures. If a composite laminate is subjected to normal low-velocity impact of sucient energy, it may create damage, which is invisible, consisting of internal delamination. Understanding the damage involved in the impact of composite targets is important in the eective design of a composite structure. For these reasons, numerous experimental and analytical techniques have been developed to study the dynamic response of composite structures subjected to

Corresponding author. Fax: +90-232-388-7868. E-mail address: (Z. Aslan).

transient dynamic loading. Some of the prominent work in this area is briey mentioned in the following. The rst attempts to characterize composite materials under dynamic loading were carried out by Rotem and Lifshitz [1,2] and Sierakowski et al. [3]. Sun and Chattopadhyay [4], Dobyns [5], and Ramkumar and Chen [6] employed the rst-order shear deformation theory developed by Whitney and Pagano [7], and used in conjunction with the Hertzian contact law to study the impact of laminated composite plates. Sankar [8] presented semi-empirical formulae for predicting impact characteristics such as peak force, contact duration, and peak strain on back surface. By solving a one-parameter dierential equation, Olsson [9] obtained an approximate analytical solution to the rst phase of impact, or wave propagation dominated, response of composite plates. Various researchers have developed the threedimensional nite element models to investigate impact. Yang and Sun [10], Tan and Sun [11] and Sun and Chen [12] studied impact on laminates under initial stress using the nite element method with a Newmark time integration algorithm. The merit of this three-dimensional numerical model is that it can provide detailed information about the local stresses and strains, which are key factors to produce initial damage in materials. Thereby, it is possible to capture the formation of

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Z. Aslan et al. / Composite Structures 59 (2003) 119127

impact-induced damage, if a very ne mesh is used. The disadvantage of this approach is that its computational demands can be exorbitant as pointed out by Davies and Zhang [13]. Some simple, but ecient theoretical and energy-based approximation methods have also been presented to deal with this problem [14,15]. Choi et al. [16] used the dynamic nite element method coupled with failure analysis to predict the threshold of impact damage and initiation of delamination. Numerous researchers have used instrumented impact test apparatus to study the impact characteristics of dierent laminated composites. Chang and Sun [17] determined the dynamic impact forces on a composite laminate by using experimentally generated Greens functions and signal deconvolutions. Jih and Sun [18] studied experimentally prediction of delamination in composite laminates subjected to low-velocity impact. They found that the results of the drop-weight impact tests indicated that low-velocity impact-induced delamination could be predicted by using the static interlaminar fracture toughness in conjunction with the static linear beam model. The impact behaviour of composite materials has been studied with dierent scientic approaches and on dierent materials. Good design can only be achieved by using appropriate design procedures, and these must be established by understanding the impact phenomena and the roles of various parameters on impact damage. Examples of these parameters are the impact velocity, the specimen stacking sequence, the impactor mass, the specimen geometry, the impactor size and the impact energy. Most of the work has been carried out on laminated structures or laminates plates made up of high performance composite materials such as carbon/epoxy or kevlar/epoxy. However, several studies have dealt with the mechanical behaviour of E-glass/bre reinforced laminated composite materials subjected to impact loading. The present study is mainly concerned with E-glass/epoxy laminated composites. Also, the importance of the in-plane dimensional eect of the composite structure is found for dierent impact masses. Since a few investigations regarding the performance of composite materials and structures at dierent sizes have been reported [1921]. It has been concluded that size eects should be carefully examined in material characterizations and structural designs. In this investigation the impact tests were performed using a drop-weight testing machine developed. The importance of the impact mass and in-plane dimensional eect of the composite structure were investigated. A numerical simulation of (0/90/0/90)s oriented cross-ply E-glass/epoxylaminate is carried out using 3DIMPACT transient dynamic nite element analysis code from Chang and co-workers [2224]. The six components of the stresses are obtained numerically as functions of the time. The extent of the nal damage of E-glass/epoxy

laminated composites resulting from point nose impact is predicted numerically.

2. Experimental details 2.1. Manufacturing The laminates studied are manufactured from E-glass l Unicontinuous bers and epoxy resin at Dokuz Eylu versity Mechanical Laboratory and Izoreel Firm. The volume fraction is approximately 57% in bers. (0/90/0/ 90)s oriented cross-ply E-glass/epoxy laminated composite of 4.8 mm nominal thickness is used for impact testing. For matrix materials, epoxy CY225 and hardener HY225 are mixed in the mass ratio of 100:80. The curing is carried out at 120 C for 4 h under a pressure of 0.2 MPa. The post-curing is carried out at 100 C for 2 h. It is then cooled to room temperature at the same pressure. The cross-ply laminated specimens are prepared by cutting out 150 mm 150 mm, 150 mm 100 mm and 150 mm 50 mm to nd the importance of the in-plane dimensional eect. 2.2. Determination of the mechanical properties of the laminates All of the elastic parameters and the strength of composite materials studied were measured. The parameters employed are listed in Table 1. The mechanical properties of the composite laminate were measured by Instron-1114 Tensile Testing Machine of 50 kN load capacity at a ratio of 0.5 mm/min. The coordinate system used to describe the properties is shown in Fig. 1. The 1 direction is along the bres and 2 direction normal to the bres in the laminate plane and 3 direction is through the laminate thickness. To obtain the modulus of elasticity in the ber direction (E1 ), Poissons ratio (m12 ) and the tensile strength in the ber direction (X1t ) a specimen whose ber direction coincides with the load-

Table 1 The measured mechanical properties of a layer Mechanical properties Fiber volume fraction (Vf ) Density, q (g/cm3 ) Longitudinal modulus, E1 (GPa) Transverse modulus, E2 (GPa) In-plane shear modulus, G12 (GPa) Major Poissons ratio (m12 ) Longitudinal tensile strength, X1t (MPa) Transverse tensile strength, X2t (MPa) In-plane shear strength, S (MPa) Longitudinal compressive strength, X1c (MPa) Transverse compressive strength, X2c (MPa) Interlaminar shear strength, Si (MPa) Magnitudes 57% 1.506 44 10.5 3.74 0.36 800 50 60 350 125 35

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Fig. 3. Double-notch shear test specimen.

Fig. 1. The coordinate system used for the composite laminates.

ing direction is taken and two strain gauges perpendicular to each other are used; one in the ber direction, the other in the transverse direction. A uniaxial tension test is used in the ber direction and the specimen is loaded step by step up to rupture. For all steps, strains in the ber directions (e1 ) and strains in the transverse directions (e2 ) are measured by Vishay digital indicator. The shear modulus G12 was determined using the standard 45 o-axis tensile test [25]. The T-Shear test set-up [26] is used to nd the shear strength S. A at lamina, which has a T shape is taken as shown in Fig. 2 and loaded up to rupture. Minimum clearance is left to prevent bending and to provide contact between specimen and metal support. The load at rupture (Fmax ) is taken and shear strength is calculated by the following equation. S Fmax 2htT 1

notches are machined, one on each face of the specimen, 6.4 mm (l) apart and of depth equal to half the specimen thickness. When this specimen is loaded in uniaxial tension, shear failure results along the mid plane of the specimen between the notches. The interlaminar shear strength is then given by Si P wl 2

where P is the failure load, l is the distance between notches, and w is the width of the specimen. 2.3. Impact testing apparatus For the low-velocity impact, a vertical drop-weight testing machine was developed. The schematic of the test set-up is illustrated in Fig. 4. To measure the impact el & Kjaer 8201 type piezoelectric force history, a Bru force transducer is mounted on the bottom side of a steel cross-bar. The tip of the impactor is hemispherical shape and made of hardened steel. The impactor head is 18 mm in diameter. The force transducer has a force capacity of 20 kN. The tower consists of two vertical steel rods mounted on a heavy steel base. Each end of the crossbar is attached to a frictionless linear bearing to minimize friction. The bearings carry the cross-bar up and down the vertical steel rods. The maximum height of the impactor is 1.032 m, which can produce approximately 4.5 m/s initial velocity on impacting the target. NEXUS2692 A OI1 signal-conditioning amplier is used to amplify signals from piezoelectric force transducer. The output from the conditioning amplier is collected by a computer coupled with a sound card and Matlab data acquisition toolbox. The data acquisition toolbox allows us to read data directly into Matlab from sound card is displayed as a PSD image. This uses the Matlab signal processing and visualization capabilities. With a constant impact velocity of 3 m/s, the mass was varied for two cases: 135 and 2600 g. Prior to impacting, the specimens are tightly clamped on both ends to a target holder, resulting in a 150 mm span. All tests are performed at room temperature. The laminated composite plate with a (0/90/0/90)s lay-up is impacted in the center with an impact velocity of 3 m/s.

The dimensions of the specimen are chosen as h 5 mm, LT 80 mm, a 10 mm and b 40 mm. The thickness of the plate tT is 3 mm. To nd the interlaminar shear strength Si , a doublenotch shear test as described in ASTM specication D3846-79 [27] has been used. The specimen is a unidirectional coupon 79.5 mm long, 12.7 mm wide (w) and 3 mm thick (h) as shown in Fig. 3. Two square parallel

Fig. 2. T-shear test set-up.


Z. Aslan et al. / Composite Structures 59 (2003) 119127

Fig. 4. The schematic diagram of impact testing apparatus.

3. Finite element analysis The 3DIMPACT transient dynamic nite element analysis code was used for numerical simulation. The dynamic stress analysis was carried out using an eightpoint brick element and the direct Gauss quadrature integration scheme is used through the element thickness to account for the change in material properties from layer to layer within the element. The Newmark scheme [28] is adopted to perform time integration from step to step. A contact law incorporated with the Newton Raphson method is applied to calculate the contact force during impact. The analysis of transient contact forces between the impactor and the composite, transient stresses in the laminates is based on three-dimensional linear elasticity with the consideration that, in each layer, the materials are homogeneous and orthotropic. The computer code allows evaluation of delamination areas by means of suitable stress analysis and damage criteria [23,24]. The nite element mesh used for the calculations is presented in Fig. 5. The laminate is discretized in to a total of N M Q elements as shown in Fig. 5. A total of four elements are used through the thickness of the laminate. The mesh is made progressively coarser towards the boundary. Choi and Chang [24] evaluated the eect of nite element mesh size on the stability of the

Fig. 5. Finite element mesh.

numerical prediction based on the model. They found that the proposed failure analysis does not require the use of an extensive ne mesh. Therefore, a regular mesh of 768 N 16 M 12 Q 4 is used in the numerical calculations for generating the results.

4. Failure analysis Transverse impact rst initiates critical matrix cracks in a layer within laminated composites with a brittle matrix. Such cracks can generate delaminations immediately along the bottom or upper interface of the cracked layer, depending on the position of the layer in the lam-

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inate. From these, impact-induced damage is identied in two steps. First, a criterion for matrix cracking is applied to points in the layers to nd the locations of matrix cracks during impact. Next, if the initial matrix crack occurs in a layer, a criterion for delamination is applied to points in the upper and lower interfaces to determine whether delamination occurs. Accordingly, two failure criteria, critical matrix cracking criterion and impactinduced delamination criterion, are used. 4.1. Critical matrix cracking criterion In order to predict the occurrence of the critical matrix cracks, Choi et al. [23] proposed the matrix failure criterion. The criterion can be expressed as

5. Results and discussion Impact tests were performed at increasing masses on clamped plates (0/90/0/90)s in order to determine the eect of the projectile mass on the impact behaviour of the cross-ply laminate. Fig. 6 shows oscilloscope trace of the force-time histories recorded during drop-weight impacts. It is worth noting that during impact, the contact forces are reduced to zero for a certain period of time, during which the impactor was separated from the plate. The plate and the impactor contacted again after the plate reversed its direction of motion snapped back. In the present study, only the rst impact is considered. Fig. 7 shows the force-time histories recorded during drop-weight impacts and calculated numerically from

22 r nX 2


23 s nS i

!2 eM 2 ;

eM P 1
n n

Failure No failure 22 P 0 if r 22 < 0 if r 3

eM < 1 X2 n X2t X2 n X2c

where the subscripts of 2 and 3 are the local coordinates of the nth layer normal to the ber direction and the out-of plane direction, respectively. Si is the in situ interlaminar shear strength within the laminate under consideration, and X2t and X2c are the in situ ply trans23 verse tensile and compressive strengths, respectively. s 22 are the averaged interlaminar and in-plane and r transverse stresses, respectively, within the nth ply. 4.2. Impact-induced delamination criterion If matrix cracking is predicted in a layer of the laminate, a delamination can be initiated from the crack. Choi and Chang [24] proposed impact-induced delamination growth criterion for low-velocity impact. The criterion can be expressed as 2 !2 !2 !2 3 n n1 n1 23 13 22 5 s s r Da 4 n n1 eD2 ; n1 Si Si X2 eD P 1 eD < 1
n1 n1

Fig. 6. Oscilloscope trace of force-time histories (150 mm 150 mm 4:8 mm, 3 m/s and 2600 g).

X2 n1 X2t X2 n1 X2c

Failure No failure 22 P 0 if r 22 < 0 if r

where Da is a constant which has to be determined from experiments [24]. The subscripts 1, 2 and 3 are the local material coordinates of an individual ply within the laminate, and the superscripts n and n 1 correspond to the upper and lower plies of the nth interface, respec23 and r 22 are the averaged interlaminar and intively. s plane transverse stresses within the nth and (n 1)th 13 is the averaged interlaminar longiply, respectively. s tudinal stress within the (n 1)th ply.

Fig. 7. Force histories at two dierent impact mass levels (150 mm 150 mm 4:8 mm and 3 m/s).


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3DIMPACT computer code of composite laminates (150 mm 150 mm 4:8 mm) at two dierent impact mass levels. With a constant impact velocity of 3 m/s, the mass is varied for two cases: 135 and 2600 g. Note that the calculated impact force between the impactor and target has a higher value than that measured by the impact force transducer. The duration of impact events in the test results are more than theoretically predicted. The reason for this discrepancy is that the clamped boundary conditions might not have been completely realized in the impact tests. In Fig. 7b, a relatively high frequency oscillation is found to superimpose on the basic loadtime curve. This oscillating signal seems to be related to the damage growth during impact [29]. It occurred and lasted during the loading period, and ceased when unloading began, possibly implying that the damage growth nished around the time of maximum impact load. Fig. 8 shows experimentally and numerically comparison of force-time histories at two dierent impact mass levels. It is shown that the shape of the force history changes noticeably as the mass varies. The eect of in-plane dimensions on the contact force is shown in Fig. 9. In addition to eective impact zones of 150 mm 150 mm, other eective impact zones of 150 mm 100 mm and 150 mm 50 mm, i.e. intermediate and small rectangular specimens, are investigated for in-plane dimensional eects. The nominal length of each plate is 150 mm. The width of the rectangular composite laminate is varied for three cases: 150, 100 and 50 mm. The two longitudinal edges of the plate

Fig. 9. Comparison of force histories at three dimensions (2600 g and 3 m/s): (a) experimental response and (b) predicted response.

(150 mm) are unsupported (free edges). The narrow edges of the plate are clamped (150, 100 and 50 mm). It can be concluded that the smaller the width of the rectangular composite laminate the higher the contact duration and the impact response is dependent on laminate geometries. To evaluate the eect of laminate geometries on the contact force, the maximum contact forces calculated numerically for ve dierent plate dimensions are shown in Table 2. The maximum impact force is obtained for 150 mm 100 mm plate among the dierent rectangular plate dimensions. The lowest impact force is obtained for small rectangular specimens (150 mm 50 mm). In accordance with other authors [2224], the 3DIMPACT code simulation agreed fairly well with experimental tests at low-velocity impact. Thus, stresses in the laminated plates are calculated numerically. The in-plane stresses, r1 , r2 and s12 , at (0, 0, 2.4 mm), which is the mid-point of the composite plate and on the upper surface of the laminations, are presented in Fig. 10. The transverse stresses s13 , s23 and r3 are checked at the same
Table 2 The values of maximum contact forces for dierent plate dimensions Plate in-plane dimensions (mm) 150 150 150 125 150 100 150 75 150 50 Maximum contact force (N) 5999 6596 6786 6620 5131

Fig. 8. Comparison of force histories at two dierent impact mass levels (150 mm 150 mm 4:8 mm and 3 m/s): (a) experimental response and (b) predicted response.

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Fig. 10. History of the stresses r1 , r2 and s12 at a given point (0, 0, 2.4 mm) calculated by the 3DIMPACT (2600 g and 3 m/s).

Fig. 11. History of the stresses s23 , s13 and r3 at a given point (0, 0, 2.4 mm) calculated by the 3DIMPACT (2600 g and 3 m/s).

point. The time histories are plotted in Fig. 11. The transverse shear stresses undergo more oscillations during impact and may lead up to delamination inside the composite plates. However, from the scale of the vertical axes, it can be found that the transverse shear stresses are signicantly smaller than the in-plane stresses r1 and r2 . The similar results on the transverse stresses were also found in the nite element analysis by Wu and Chang [22] and, Chun and Lam [30]. We see that the maximum value of r1 is greater than the maximum value of r2 . Because, the exural wave moves faster in the 1 direction than in the 2 direction due to the anisotropic nature of the plate material. The numerical simulations of the magnied delamination shape and size at the upper interface (the inter-

face near the impact side) and lower interface (the interface away from the impact side) of the laminated composite plate are shown in Fig. 12. The asterisks symbol in the gure indicates the location where the stresses are calculated and satised the impact-induced delamination criterion. The area covered by the asterisks gives the estimation of the delamination size. Little delamination is observed at the upper 0/90 interface of the laminates. The largest delamination occurs at the lower 90/0 interface. Because bending stresses r22 in the backside of the laminate introduce matrix cracks in the lowest layer, which starts a pattern of matrix cracks and delaminations. Therefore, the major delamination size is governed by the rst delamination, which occurred at the lower interface. The delamination has a


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Fig. 12. Predicted delaminations at upper 0/90 interface and lower 90/0 interface (3 m/s and 2600 g).

peanut-like shape and expected to propagate along the ber direction at the lower layer. The delaminated areas of intermediate rectangular specimens (150 mm 100 mm) are wider than other plates.

6. Conclusion The low-velocity impact of E-glass/epoxy laminated composite plates is studied experimentally and numerically. It is found that the shape of the force history

changes noticeably as the mass varies. The mechanical behaviour of composite structures under low-velocity impact is dependent on their in-plane dimensions. It can be concluded that the smaller the width of the rectangular composite laminate the higher the contact duration. The maximum impact force is obtained for 150 mm 100 mm plate among the three dierent rectangular plate dimensions (150 mm 150 mm, 150 mm 100 mm and 150 mm 50 mm). The delaminated areas of 150 mm 100 mm plate are wider than 150 mm 150 mm and 150 mm 50 mm plates.

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The present work will be benecial to our further research about the damage extension in laminated composites with dierent lay-ups under low-velocity impact and post-impact behaviour. References
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