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Shear Moduli of Structural

Composites from Torsion Tests


JULIO F. DAVALOS
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV 26506-6103, USA

PIZHONG QIAO* AND JIALAI WANG


Department of Civil Engineering
The University of Akron
Akron, OH 44325-3905, USA

HANI A. SALIM
Department of Civil Engineering
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211-2200, USA

JEREMY SCHLUSSEL
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV 26506-6103, USA
(Received August 10, 2000)
(Revised November 9, 2000)

ABSTRACT: A combined experimental/analytical approach for effective evaluation


of in-plane and out-of-plane shear moduli of structural composite laminates from
torsion is presented. The test samples are produced by pultrusion and consist of
E-glass fiber systems and vinylester resin. Three types of rectangular samples are
used: unidirectional samples cut from plates; angle-ply and angle/cross ply samples
cut from wide-flange beams. The shear moduli are obtained from the experimental
torsional stiffnesses (T/) and data reduction techniques based on torsion solutions
by Lekhnitskii and Whitney. The classical approach of using paired samples of
different widths but same material orientation can grossly underestimate out-ofplane shear moduli. Thus, to overcome this problem, samples with material
orientations normal to each other are used, and to obtain samples of larger
dimensions than the available thicknesses of the material, the pultruded laminates
are bonded flat-wise, from which transverse strips of different widths are cut.
Consistent results are obtained by the two data reduction techniques, and the
experimental values are compared to predictions by micro/macro-mechanics models.
*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: Qiao@uakron.edu

Journal of COMPOSITE MATERIALS, Vol. 36, No. 10/2002


0021-9983/02/10 115123 $10.00/0
DOI: 10.1106/002199802023486
2002 Sage Publications

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JULIO F. DAVALOS

ET AL.

In relation to more elaborate methods, the proposed torsional approach can be easily
implemented in the laboratory, and by testing a representative volume of the
material with this method, it is expected to obtain reliable shear moduli data for
structural composites.
KEY WORDS: fiber-reinforced plastic composites, laminates, in-plane and out-ofplane shear moduli, torsion, micro/macro-mechanics, data reduction techniques.

INTRODUCTION
beams, columns, and cellular panels are
increasingly used in structural applications. Structural sections, such as wide-flange,
box, and other shapes, consist typically of arrangements of flat walls. The most common
processing method for FRP structural members is pultrusion, followed by vacuumassisted resin transfer molding (VARTM). The constituents are typically E-glass fiber
systems and vinylester or polyester resins, and the ply materials may include unidirectional
fiber bundles or roving, continuous or chopped randomly-oriented strand mats, and
stitched fabrics with  orientations. In the pultrusion process, the sections are not
produced by lamination lay-up, but the arrangement of the constituent materials can be
simulated as a layered system, and the stiffness properties of each panel can be predicted
by lamination theory in terms of the ply stiffnesses computed through micromechanics [1].
Since it is nearly impossible to test the individual plies of a pultruded section, it is
required to determine the material properties at the laminate level through reliable test and
analysis methods.
Shear deformations for pultruded FRP composites can be significant [1] due to the
relatively low shear moduli of the constituents used, and therefore, the modeling of FRP
structural components should account for shear effects. In general, the evaluation of shear
stiffness and strength is a difficult task, and while a number of test methods are available,
as discussed for example by Chiao et al. [2], there can be a considerable discrepancy in the
reported results.
For fiber reinforced composite materials, it is difficult to design a test in which only pure
shear is applied. Generally, there are five acceptable test methods for evaluation of
composite shear properties [3], namely, the Iosipescu test,  45 coupon tension test, the
off-axis tension test, the rail shear test, and the torsion test. The torsion test can induce a
pure shear state of stress, provide average shear properties over a large volume of the
specimen, and minimize localized material and stress concentration effects. For a
rectangular bar under torsion, the cross-section is a plane of elastic symmetry [4], and the
center of twist is assumed to remain constant along the length of the bar. In this state, only
two of the six components of stress are not zero; i.e.,  xy and  xz. Therefore, the shear
moduli Gxy and Gxz can be evaluated from torsion tests, which allow for larger samples to
be tested when compared to other test methods available.
Since most structural composites consist of thick or moderately-thick laminates (0.2500
0.500 or thicker), the number of test methods for determining shear moduli and strengths
is limited. In particular, torsion tests and side-notched (Iosipescu) tests are commonly
used. The torsion tests make use of either cylindrical rods [2,5] or rectangular samples [6],
while the Iosipescu shear test [3] uses a flat specimen with side notches, similar to the
sample proposed by Arcan et al. [7], to develop a state of uniform stress in the gauge
section. The computational procedure of shear moduli from torsion tests and linear elastic

IBER-REINFORCED POLYMER (FRP) composite

Shear Moduli of Structural Composites from Torsion Tests

1153

torsion theory for anisotropic bars [8] is well established [9]. Similarly, the Iosipescu test
method has been extensively discussed by various researchers [6,10,11].
The Iosipescu test is the most common test method to compute the in-plane shear
stiffness for composite materials, including pultruded FRP composites. The major
disadvantages of this method are the small effective sections tested, which may not be
representative of the material [11], and the stress concentration at the notched section of
the specimen [12,13]. For pultruded FRP composites [11], it has been observed that there is
significant variability in the results obtained with the Iosipescu test, which can be
attributed to the presence of material defects (resin-rich and fiber-rich zones) over the
small area tested by this method. Other drawbacks of this method are the labor-intense
sample preparation, the large number of required repetitions, and the required fabrication
of special testing fixtures. Moreover, the Iosipescu test is generally used to obtain only
in-plane shear properties.
The torsion test, on the other hand, produces pure shear state of stress in the specimen,
and the analysis of the experimental results can be easily interpreted. The torsion test also
provides average shear properties over a larger volume of the sample minimizing the
localized effect problems encountered in the Iosipescu test. In the literature, however, the
torsion test method has been used mainly for unidirectional laminates, and the procedure
consists of testing laminates with the same material orientation but varying widths [14].
In this paper, we show that this technique grossly underestimates the out-of-plane
shear modulus. A better approach is to test paired samples with two distinct material
orientations.

OBJECTIVES
The objective of this paper is to propose a comprehensive combined experimental and
analytical method to effectively evaluate shear moduli for FRP structural laminates from
torsion. By simulating the pultruded panel as a layered system, the panel shear stiffness
properties are predicted by classical macromechanics and modified transverse shear
deformation theory in terms of the ply stiffnesses and compliances computed through
micromechanics. The experimental program includes testing three distinct pultruded FRP
laminates (unidirectional, angle-ply, and angle/cross-ply) under torsion, and the shear
moduli are evaluated through a new approach using paired samples with material
orientations normal to each other, as opposed to classical methods that can grossly
underestimate the out-of-plane moduli. Torsion solutions by Lekhnitskii [8] and Whitney
[13] are implemented as data-reduction methods to obtain the shear moduli. The test
methods and data-reduction techniques presented in this paper provide practical
guidelines for evaluation of shear moduli by investigators, material producers and
design engineers.

SHEAR STIFFNESSES BY MICRO/MACROMECHANICS


Overview of the Theory
Micromechanics and Macromechanics models are considered as fundamental tools for
the evaluation of composite materials. In this study, combined micro/macromechanics are

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JULIO F. DAVALOS

ET AL.

(a)

(b)

(c)

Figure 1. Material architecture of test samples: (a) unidirectional (Sample U); (b) angle-ply (Sample A) and
(c) angle- and cross-ply (Sample AC).

used to predict the laminate elastic properties. Pultruded FRP shapes are not laminated
structures in a rigorous sense; however, they are produced with material architectures that
can be simulated as laminated configurations [1]. A typical pultruded section may include
the following four types of layers (see examples in Figure 1): (1) a thin layer of randomlyoriented chopped fibers (Veil) placed on the surface of the composite. This is a resin-rich
layer primarily used as a protective coating, and its contribution to the laminate response
can be neglected; (2) continuous or Chopped Strand Mats (CSM) of different weights,
consisting of continuous or chopped randomly-oriented fibers; (3) Stitched Fabrics (SF)
with different angle orientations, and (4) roving layers that contain continuous
unidirectional fiber bundles, which contribute the most to the stiffness and strength of a
section. Each layer is modeled as a homogeneous, linearly elastic, and generally
orthotropic material. The modeling of FRP structural composites as laminates and
prediction of their stiffness properties require accurate ply stiffnesses, which can be

Shear Moduli of Structural Composites from Torsion Tests

1155

evaluated through micromechanics by estimating the individual ply thickness and the
fiber volume fraction (Vf) of the constituents. Further information on modeling of
pultruded FRP sections and computation of Vf for simulated layer systems can be found
in Davalos et al. [1].
Several formulas of micromechanics of composites have been developed and used over
time [15], and the degree of correlation between experimental data and theoretical
predictions depends on the accuracy of the model used. In this study, we compute the ply
shear stiffnesses for the roving and stitched fabric layers using primarily a micromechanics
model for composites with periodic microstructure [16]; as an illustration, the expression
for the computation of the in-plane shear modulus G12 is


S3
1

G12 Gm  Vf 
Gm Gm  Gf

where Gm and Gf are the shear moduli of the matrix and the fibers, respectively, and S3 is
given as
S3 0:49247  0:47603Vf  0:02748Vf2
In addition, the composite cylinder model developed by Hasin and Rosen [17], which is
based on the self-consistent theory, can provide reasonably accurate stiffness predictions
for roving and SF layers. The formula for G12 given by the composite cylinder model is
G12 Gm

1 Vf Gf 1  Vf Gm
1  Vf Gf 1 Vf Gm

For comparative purposes and because of its popularity, we also compute the elastic
properties of roving and SF layers by the inverse rule of mixtures approach [18]. For
example, the expression for G12 is given by
G12

Gm Gf
1  Vf Gf Vf Gm

Based on the assumption that the material is isotropic in the plane [19], the in-plane
shear stiffness of the CSM layers are estimated from the approximate expressions given by
Hull [20] for randomly oriented composites:
1
1
G12 E1 E2
8
4

where, E1 and E2 are computed from any of the micromechanics models described above.
Using macromechanics, the in-plane shear stiffness of a laminate can be predicted from
the shear compliance (66), which is computed from ply material properties and the inverse
of the extensional stiffness matrix [A] as
Gxy

1
66 h

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ET AL.

where, h is the thickness of the whole laminate. The in-plane shear modulus computed by
Equation (5) is valid for the case of the laminate under in-plane loading. For a laminate
under torsion, the in-plane shear stiffness of the laminate is computed from the twist
compliance coefficient (66), which is dependent on the stacking sequence and is evaluated
from the inverse of the bending stiffness matrix [D] as
Gxy

12
66 h3

For computation of the out-of-plane shear moduli of a laminate, the constitutive


relations for the laminate shear stress resultants are given by Vinson and Sierakowski
[21] as


Qx
Qy

A55
A45

A45
A44



xz
yz


7

where


N
1
5X
4 3
3

Qij k zk  zk1  zk  zk1 2
Aij
4 k1
3
h

i, j 4, 5

and zk is the distance from the mid-surface of the kth ply to the middle surface of the
laminate. Ply shear stiffness quantities Q ij k are computed from the individual ply shear
moduli G13 and G23, which are obtained from micromechanics models. Then the out-ofplane modulus of a laminate, Gxz, is
Gxz

A55
h

The out-of-plane modulus in Equation (8) is useful when looking at laminate


macroscopic responses such as bending with shear deformation, buckling loads and
vibration frequencies. For a laminate in torsion, we adopt a modified shear deformation
theory [13,22] to evaluate the effective out-of-plane shear modulus. In this case, the
transverse shear constitutive relations are of the form [22]

 


Qx
xz
F55 F45

9
Qy
yz
F45 F44
where
(

Qx
Qy

F44

R55
;
R44 R55  R245

Rij

F55

h=2

h=2

R44
;
R44 R55  R245

xz
yz

)
dz

F45

R45
;
R44 R55  R245



N
9 X
ij k zk  zk1  8 z3  z3 1 16z5  z5 1

S
k1 2
k
k1 4
4h2 k1
3 k
h
h

i, j 4, 5

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Shear Moduli of Structural Composites from Torsion Tests

and Sij k denotes the ply transverse shear compliance. Then the out-of-plane shear
modulus of a laminate, Gxz, is
Gxz

F55
h

10

The shear modulus in Equation (10) is based on the integral of weighted shear
compliances and on the assumption that the transverse shear stress distributions are
parabolic and continuous at layer interfaces.
The predicted values from Equations (6) and (10) are representative of the laminate
responses under torsion loading, and they are used in this study as baseline values for
comparisons with experimental data.

Analytical Predictions for Test Specimens


The in-plane and out-of-plane shear moduli for three pultruded laminates used in this
study are predicted by the above micro/macro mechanics approach. The laminates
considered are: (1) a unidirectional sample, designated as U and obtained from a flat plate,
consisting of two continuous strand mat (CSM) layers and one roving layer [Figure 1(a)];
(2) an angle-ply (A) sample, cut from a 1200 1200 1/200 wide-flange beam, with seven
CSM layers, seven angle-ply stitched fabric (SF) layers, and six roving layers [Figure 1(b)];
and an angle/cross-ply (AC) sample, obtained also from a 1200 1200 1/200 wide-flange
beam, consisting of seven CSM layers, four cross-ply and three angle-ply SF layers, and six
roving layers [Figure 1(c)]. The reinforcements are all E-glass and the resin is Vinylester,
with material properties listed in Table 1.
The material properties and fiber volume fractions of the different plies are computed
following Davalos et al. [1] and are given in Table 2, along with the in-plane shear moduli
Table 1. Material properties of the constituents.
Material
E-glass fiber
Vinylester resina
a

E (GPa)

G (GPa)

q (g/cm3)

72.395
5.061

28.841
1.634

0.255
0.30

2.550
1.136

From tension and torsion tests of circular resin rods [28].

Table 2. Ply properties and in-plane shear moduli.


Ply Properties
Sample
Type
U
U
A, AC
A, AC
A, AC
AC
a

G12 (GPa)

Lamina

t
(mm)

Vf

Periodic
Microstructure

Composite
Cylinder

Inverse Rule
of Mixture

1 oz. CSM
61 yield roving
3/4 oz. CSM
 45 SF
62 yield roving
0 /90 SF

0.508a
8.509b
0.381a
0.660a
0.851b
0.660a

0.236
0.410
0.236
0.362
0.627
0.370

4.357
3.536
4.205
3.205
5.852
3.256

4.424
3.652
4.276
3.294
6.219
3.350

3.945
3.907
4.237
3.489
7.138
3.553

Unconsolidated thickness provided by supplier.


Based on total thickness of laminate.

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ET AL.

Table 3. Laminate material properties of experimental samples.


Gxy (GPa)

Gxz (GPa)

Sample
Type

Ex
(GPa)

Ey
(GPa)

Equation
(5)

Equation
(6)

Equation
(8)

Equation
(10)

mxy

U
A
AC

30.192
26.366
28.310

10.446
13.259
14.858

3.627
6.412
5.343

3.772
6.247
4.475

2.958
3.813
3.813

2.958
4.199
4.199

0.327
0.396
0.300

values evaluated from micromechanics formulae. Then, using Equations (5), (6), (8) and
(10), the in-plane and out-of-plane shear properties of the laminates (Gxy and Gxz) are
evaluated and are given in Table 3; the predicted values by Equations (6) and (10) are
correlated with experimental results in subsequent sections.
TORSION SOLUTIONS
The first solution for torsion was presented by Coulomb in 1784. About 40 years later,
Navier presented a rigorous solution for torsion of circular shafts. In 1855, St. Venant
developed a torsion solution for rectangular bars that included a warping function. A
detailed discussion of torsion theories is presented by Hsu [23].
Lekhnitskii [8] applied St. Venants formulation for torsion to orthotropic materials and
obtained solutions for circular and rectangular bars with three mutually perpendicular
planes of material symmetry. Davalos et al. [9] applied this approach to orthotropic wood
samples and presented a combined analytical/experimental method to obtain principal
shear moduli. Lekhnitskiis solution can be successfully used for orthotropic samples; for
more complex materials, Whitney [13] presented a solution incorporating transverse shear
deformation for the torsion of rectangular laminated anisotropic composite plates. In the
following two sections, we briefly describe the computational algorithms of Lekhnitskiis
and Whitneys torsion solutions for anisotropic materials.
Lekhnitskiis Solution for Orthotropic Materials
A solution for the torsion of rectangular orthotropic bars in their principal material
directions was presented by Lekhnitskii [8]. In Figure 2, the sample is subjected to a
torque, T, applied about the longitudinal axis x and causing an angle of twist . The
dimensions of the sample are: a width, b thickness, and L length. The torque versus
angle of twist (T/) can be expressed as
T
ab3
Gxy


L

11a

where, Gxy in-plane shear modulus of the laminate and is given by


s
"
r!#
1
32a2 Gxz X
1
2a Gxz
i
b Gxy
4 2
tanh
1
i
b Gxy
2a Gxz

b Gxy i1, 3, 5, ... i4

11b

Shear Moduli of Structural Composites from Torsion Tests

1159

Figure 2. Coordinates and dimensions of rectangular bar for torsion solution.

In Equation (11), the torsional stiffness is a function of the two principal shear moduli.
When Equation (11) is reduced to an isotropic case (Gxy Gxz G) and evaluated for a
large number of terms, is denoted by k and expressed as


1
b
1  0:63
k
3
a
By substituting k for in Equation (11), we obtain St. Venants torsion solution for a
rectangular isotropic bar:


T
ab3 1
b
Gxy
1  0:63

a
L 3

12

The most commonly used approach to solve for the shear moduli in Equation (11) is to
test two samples with different cross-sectional dimensions but same material orientation
[4]. A graphical method proposed by Tarnopolskii and Kincis [24] is typically used to
solve for the shear moduli. The problem with this approach is that the out-of-plane shear
modulus, Gxz, is grossly underestimated. For example, Sumsion and Rajapakse [14]
reported Gxz values as much as 90% lower than Gxy for unidirectional transversely
isotropic composites, for which one should expect Gxz Gxy.
A better approach is to pair samples with either the same or different cross-sectional
dimensions but with material orientations normal to each other. Davalos et al. [9] used this
approach for paired orthotropic wood samples manufactured with the same crosssectional dimensions, but with principal material orientations perpendicular to one
another. The corresponding two distinct equations were then solved by a method of
successive substitutions. In this study, we modify the approach proposed by Davalos et al.
[9] to obtain a more efficient solution by the bisection method [25,26]. Pultruded FRP
structural laminates are considered, and to obtain samples of variable widths in the
xz-plane, the pultruded laminates [Figure 3(a)] were bonded flat-wise, and vertical strips
were cut from the bonded assemblies as shown in Figure 3(b).

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JULIO F. DAVALOS

(a)

ET AL.

(b)

Figure 3. Sample orientations for: (a) in-plane (xy) and (b) out-of-plane (xz) shear moduli.

Whitneys Solution for Anisotropic Materials


Whitney [13] provided solutions for both pure and free torsion of plates, and the basic
assumptions of the theory are similar to those often used in macromechanics of
composites. For an anisotropic laminated plate subjected to torsion, a modified shear
deformation theory for displacements was used to derive the torsional stiffness as


T
4a
1  2= tanh =2






D 66 1  2= 1  D 66 =D 66 tanh =2

13

where D 66 is given by


B D B  D 16 B 11 D 16 D 16 A 11  B 11 B 16
D 66 D 66  16 11 16
D 11 A 11 B 2
11

14

A ij , B ij , and D ij are the coefficients of the inverse of the ABD matrix, and is defined as
2s3
D 66 A44 A55  A245 5
a4
A44

15

where a width of sample (Figure 3). For a symmetric orthotropic sample, we get
A45 B 16 D 16 0, and Equation (13) can be simplified as

 


4ab3 Gxy
T
2

tanh
1


2
12
where
"s#
12Gxz
a
b2 Gxy

16

Shear Moduli of Structural Composites from Torsion Tests

1161

The Lekhnitskiis and Whitneys torsion solutions summarized above are used in
conjunction with torsion tests to evaluate the shear moduli for various laminates. The
application of torsion solutions as data reduction techniques for torsion tests is further
discussed in the Results section.
TEST SAMPLES AND PROCEDURE
The three sample types shown in Figure 1 were tested using a manually operated torsion
machine that permitted accurate measurements of applied torque and angle of twist. In
this section we describe the test specimens and methods used.
Test Samples
The unidirectional samples (U) were cut from a pultruded flat plate of thickness
9.53 mm (3/800 ) [Figure 1(a)], and both the angle-ply samples (A) and angle/cross-ply
samples (AC) were obtained from pultruded wide-flange beams 304.8 304.8 12.7 mm
(1200 1200 1/200 ); thus the thickness of these samples was 12.7 mm(1/200 ), and their fiber
architectures are shown respectively in Figures 1(b) and 1(c). For each of these three
sample-types, specimens of 0.432 m (1700 ) in length were cut in four widths: 25.4 mm (1.000 ),
38.1 mm (1.500 ), 50.8 mm (2.000 ), and 63.5 mm (2.500 ) [e.g., for the U samples, U10, U15, U20
and U25 represent the unidirectional samples with widths of 25.4 mm (1.000 ), 38.1 mm
(1.500 ), 50.8 mm (2.000 ) and 63.5 mm (2.500 ), respectively], with four replications for each
width. The orientation of these samples is described in Figure 3(a), with the width
dimension along the y-axis and the longitudinal dimension along the x-axis.
To obtain samples with larger dimensions than the available material thickness in the
xz-plane [see Figure 3(b)], flat strips were cut from the plate and beam components and
bonded flat-wise with epoxy. The bonded layered specimens were subsequently cut into
vertical strips to obtain samples with the same dimensions as those obtained directly
from the pultruded components; i.e., samples with thickness 9.53 mm (3/800 ) or 12.7 mm
(1/200 ) and width 25.4 mm (1.000 ), 38.1 mm (1.500 ), 50.8 mm (2.000 ) and 63.5 mm (2.500 ). This
approach was used to produce paired samples with same dimensions, but material
orientations normal to each other (see Figure 3). To denote the bonded samples for each
type of laminate, the letter B is added to the corresponding designation; e.g., UB identifies
the unidirectional bonded samples.
Test Procedure
The samples were tested in a manually-operated torsion machine. The torque was
applied through a large wheel at one end and a counterbalance pendulum at the other
end. To increase the accuracy of angle of twist measurement, a circular gear was fitted
concentrically through the specimen at each gage point, and the rotation of the gear
was transferred by a plastic chain to an outside small pulley in order to magnify the
displacement of a transducer (LVDT) suspended from the pulley by a plastic thread.
The angle of twist between two sections sufficiently away from the grips (ASTM D198)
was computed from the displacements of the transducers and the geometry of the
gear-and-pulley mechanism. In this study, the gauge length of 0.229 m (9.0 in) is used to
measure the angle of twist between two sections.

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ET AL.

The torque was applied at a rate of about three degrees per minute, for a total angle of
twist within the material elastic limit of about 10 . Each sample was tested four times, and
the torque versus angle of twist (T/) was obtained through linear regression of the data.
For further details of the experimental procedure, see Schussel [27]. The data reduction
techniques used for various torsion solutions are discussed next.
RESULTS, DATA REDUCTION METHODS AND DISCUSSION
The torsional stiffnesses (T/) for three types of laminated samples were obtained
experimentally to evaluate their shear moduli from torsion solutions. The experimental
program is organized in two parts: (1) unidirectional (U) samples and (2) angle-ply (A)
and angle/cross-ply (AC) samples.
Unidirectional Samples
This phase of the study is concerned with the response of the unidirectional samples
shown in Figure 1(a). Two approaches are used to evaluate the shear moduli Gxy and Gxz
from paired samples. The first approach consists of applying Lekhnitskiis orthotropic
torsion solution to test results of samples of different sizes but same material orientations;
in the second approach, the solutions by Lekhnitskii and Whitney are used in conjunction
with test results for samples with mutually orthogonal material orientations; i.e.,
combining samples U (cut from the pultruded plate) and UB (produced by bonding) as
shown in Figure 3. Further, as an approximation and to show the validity of transverse
isotropy for these samples, the shear moduli is also obtained from St. Venants isotropic
solution (Equation 12). The results for each method used are discussed next.
UNIDIRECTIONAL SAMPLES WITH SAME MATERIAL ORIENTATIONS
A commonly used method to evaluate shear moduli for specially orthotropic materials
(when the geometric and material axes coincide) is by torsion tests of samples with
different cross-sectional dimensions but same material orientation. However, as shown in
this study, this method can grossly underestimate the out-of-plane shear modulus Gxz.
Samples with four different widths were tested in torsion, and the average dimensions and
torsional stiffnesses of the samples, including the bonded samples to be used later, are
given in Table 4.
Following the graphical method by Tarnopolskii and Kincis [24], the results for the
unidirectional samples U with same material orientations are shown in Table 5. Based on
Table 4. Average dimensions and response of U and UB samples.
Sample
U10
U15
U20
U25
UB10
UB15
UB20
UB25

Width (mm)

Thickness (mm)

T//(N-m)

24.638
37.694
50.444
63.221
25.781
37.694
50.419
65.075

9.296
9.373
9.398
9.373
9.296
9.373
9.550
9.042

64.095 (COV = 2.623%)


121.517 (COV = 2.163%)
179.085 (COV = 1.688%)
239.128 (COV = 1.047%)
63.482 (COV = 3.227%)
107.040 (COV = 4.524%)
181.686 (COV = 5.002%)
213.536 (COV = 3.115%)

1163

Shear Moduli of Structural Composites from Torsion Tests


Table 5. Shear moduli results from U samples with one material orientation.
Sample Pairs

Gxy (GPa)

Gxz (GPa)

3.647
3.813
3.806
4.020
3.944
3.992

1.269
1.151
1.151
0.848
0.910
0.841

3.868 (3.65%)

1.027 (17.90%)

U10 : U15
U10 : U20
U10 : U25
U15 : U20
U15 : U25
U20 : U25
Average (COV)

transverse isotropy, it is expected that the two shear moduli be approximately equal to
each other, but in this case, the out-of-plane modulus Gxz obtained is only about 27% of
the in-plane modulus Gxy. A similar discrepancy can be observed in the results reported for
unidirectional samples by Sumsion and Rajapakse [14], who provided no explanation for
the out-of-plane modulus being as low as one-tenth of the in-plane modulus. A better
approach is to use paired samples with material orientations normal to each other, as
shown next.
UNIDIRECTIONAL SAMPLES WITH DISTINCT
MATERIAL ORIENTATIONS
To obtain shear moduli from torsion solutions by Lekhnitskii [Equation (11)] and
Whitney [Equation (16)], an effective approach is to determine the (T/) values for at least
two samples with distinct material orientations [9]. In this study, samples with the same
cross-sectional dimensions but orthogonal material orientations were paired (Figure 3),
and using Equations (11) and (16), the in-plane and out-of-plane shear moduli values were
obtained. Each size group consisted of four samples in the xy direction and four samples in
the xz direction to obtain 16 sets of values for Gxy and Gxz. Furthermore, by cross-pairing
each size-group of xy samples with the four size-groups of xz samples, a total of 64 sets of
Gxy and Gxz values were obtained, with a final grand total of 256 sets of values.
Data Reduction Based on Lekhnitskiis Solution
To use Lekhnitskiis solution, Equation (11) was rewritten for each sample orientation as
Gxy

K1 L1
;
a1 b31 1

Gxz

K2 L2
a2 b32 2

17a

where
Ki

Ti
,
i

i 1, 2

17b

and 1 and 2 are expressed as


s
"
r!#
1
32a21 Gxz X
1
2a1 Gxz
i
b1 Gxy
tanh
1 4 2
1
i
b1 Gxy
2a1 Gxz

b1 Gxy i1, 3, 5, ... i4

17c

1164

JULIO F. DAVALOS

s!#
"
r
1
32a22 Gxy X
1
2a2 Gxy
i
b2 Gxz
2 4 2
1
tanh
i
b2 Gxz
2a2 Gxy

b2 Gxz i1, 3, 5, ... i4

ET AL.

17d

Both Equations (17a) need to be solved simultaneously, and to simplify the computational
effort we divide Equation (17c) by Equation (17d), resulting in
1
h
X
p i
p
1=i4 1  2a1 =i
b1 tanhi
b1 =2a1 1=
 3
a2 b2 K1 L1
i1, 3, 5
18

1
X
p
a1 b1 K2 L2
1h
p i
1

2a
=i
b

1=

tanh
i
b
=2a

2
2
2
2
i4
i1, 3, 5
where

Gxz
Gxy

Now, there is only one unknown, , in Equation (18), and by solving for by the bisection
method [25,26], we can obtain the in-plane (Gxy) and out-of-plane (Gxz) shear moduli as:
(

Gxz
a31 b1

4
1
h
X
p i 32
p
1=i4 1  2a1 =i
b1 tanh i
b1 =2a1 1=
K1 L1

19a

i1, 3, 5

Gxy

Gxz

19b

Table 6 presents the results for paired samples of the same size and cross-paired samples
of different sizes. The results of this method support the assumption that an orthotropic
composite material with unidirectional fibers can be modeled as transversely isotropic.
Also, the results indicate that as the width of the sample increases, the corresponding shear
modulus on that plane increases (Table 6). To observe this effect in Table 6, see any row
for Gxy and any column for Gxz.
Data Reduction Based on Whitneys Solution
Whitneys simplified torsion solution [13] is given in Equation (16). By mathematically
rotating the coordinate system (Figure 4), the following system of equations are obtained
for the xy and xz planes:
Table 6. Shear moduli results using Lekhnitskiis solution for U samples.
Width
(mm) xz
Plane
25.781
37.694
50.419
65.075

Gxy (GPa)

Gxz (GPa)

xy Plane

xy Plane

24.638

37.694

50.444

63.221

24.638

37.694

50.444

63.221

2.959
2.936
2.858
2.841

3.250
3.233
3.180
3.169

3.384
3.371
3.332
3.323

3.535
3.524
3.491
3.484

2.683
2.793
3.250
3.366

2.644
2.767
3.225
3.344

2.627
2.755
3.214
3.338

2.611
2.743
3.203
3.327

Shear Moduli of Structural Composites from Torsion Tests

(a)

1165

(b)

Figure 4. Orientation for: (a) in-plane shear and (b) out-of-plane shear moduli.

s!
p
#

"
3a1 p
T1
1 4a1 b31 Gxy
b1
1
tanh
xy-plane : K1


1  p
1 L1
12
b1
3a1

20a

p s!#



"
3a2 1
T2
1 4a2 b32 Gxy
b2 p

xz-plane : K2
tanh
1  p

2 L2
12
b2
3a2

20b

where

Gxz
Gxy

By dividing Equation (20a) by Equation (20b), we can obtain


 p p
p
p
  3 
3a1 =b1
K1
L2
a1 b1 1 1  b1 = 3a1 1= tanh
p









p
p
K2
L1
a2 b32 1  b2 = 3a2 tanh
3a2 =b2 1=

21

Again, by using the bisection method [26] and solving for the only unknown, , we can
obtain the in-plane (Gxy) and out-of-plane (Gxz) shear moduli as:

Gxy

3K1

 p p
p
p
a1 b31 1  b1 = 3a1
1= tanh
3a1 =b1

Gxz Gxy

22a

22b

Table 7 presents the results for paired samples of the same size and cross-paired samples
of different sizes. Similar to the results based on Lekhnitskiis solution, the shear modulus
increases as the corresponding width of the sample increases.

1166

JULIO F. DAVALOS

ET AL.

Table 7. Shear moduli results using Whitneys solution for U samples.

Width (mm)
xz plane
25.781
37.694
50.419
65.075

Gxy (GPa)

Gxz (GPa)

xy Plane

xy Plane

24.638

37.694

50.444

63.221

24.638

37.694

50.444

63.221

2.877
2.853
2.786
3.199

3.195
3.178
3.131
3.199

3.343
3.330
3.294
3.285

3.501
3.490
3.460
3.453

2.619
2.754
3.215
3.337

2.586
2.728
3.189
3.314

2.571
2.718
3.179
3.310

2.557
2.708
3.169
3.303

DISCUSSION FOR UNIDIRECTIONAL SAMPLES


From Tables 6 and 7, it can be observed that the shear modulus increases as the
width of the corresponding principal plane increases. A comparative summary of average
experimental values are given in Table 8, along with predicted values from micro/macromechanics formulas [see Equations (6) and (10)]. Consistent results are obtained
by all three solutions: Lekhnitskii, Whitney, and isotropic. For the in-plane shear
modulus, the predicted value is about 16.3 and 16.9% higher than the average
experimental values of various widths from Lekhnitskiis and Whitneys solutions,
respectively; whereas, there are correspondingly about 3.4 and 0.1% differences for
the out-of-plane shear modulus. Thus, the proposed analytical formulations can
provide reasonable shear moduli properties for unidirectional composites. A graphical
representation of the results is given in Figures 5a and 5b, clearly showing the behavior
of shear moduli with increase in sample width. As discussed above, the method using
samples of one material orientation grossly underestimates out-of-plane shear moduli
(Table 5).

Angle-Ply and Angle/Cross-Ply Samples


Following the procedures described above, the angle-ply (A) and angle/cross-ply (AC)
samples and their corresponding bonded pairs (AB and ACB) were tested in torsion and
Table 8. Summary of Gxy and Gxz for U samples.
Shear
Modulus

Samples
Width
(mm)

a/b
Ratio

Gxy

24.638
2.65
37.694
4.02
50.444
5.37
63.221
6.75
Average (COV)

Gxz

25.781
37.694
50.419
65.075

2.77
4.02
5.28
7.20

Average (COV)

Isotropic
(GPa)

Lekhnitskii
(GPa)

Whitney
(GPa)

Predicted
(GPa)

2.882
3.282
3.344
3.496
3.254 (8.05%)

2.896
3.206
3.351
3.509
3.241 (8.06%)

2.930
3.179
3.316
3.475
3.227 (7.16%)

3.771
Equation (6)

3.034
3.199
3.241
3.372

2.641
3.041
3.227
3.344

2.586
2.734
3.185
3.316

2.958
Equation (10)

3.213 (4.34%)

3.061 (10.06%)

2.958 (11.89%)

Shear Moduli of Structural Composites from Torsion Tests

1167

analyzed by both Lekhnitskiis and Whitneys solutions. The fiber architectures are shown
in Figure 1(b) (samples A) and Figure 1(c) (samples AC), and the layer and laminate
properties are given in Tables 2 and 3, respectively. The average dimensions and measured
torsional responses (T/) for the as-manufactured and bonded samples are summarized in
Table 9.
Using the sample-pairing technique by testing samples with material orientations
normal to each other (e.g., samples A and AB; samples AC and ACB), as discussed
above for the unidirectional samples, the shear moduli were obtained through data
reduction torsion solutions. The results for Lekhnitskiis and Whitneys solutions
are given, respectively, in Tables 10 and 11. Each value reported in these tables is the
average of 16 results, corresponding to four replications per sample. As observed in
Tables 10 and 11, consistent results are obtained for both Lekhnitskiis and Whitneys
solutions.

(a)

(b)
Figure 5. (a) In-plane shear modulus Gxy for U samples; (b) Out-of-plane shear modulus Gxz for U samples.

1168

JULIO F. DAVALOS

ET AL.

Table 9. Average dimensions and response of A, AB, AC and


ACB samples.
Sample

Width
(mm)

Thickness
(mm)

A10
A15
A20
A25
AB10
AB15
AB20
AB25
AC10
AC15
AC20
AC25
ACB10
ACB15
ACB20
ACB25

24.994
37.719
50.470
63.754
25.222
37.744
50.394
63.856
25.070
37.795
50.495
63.830
25.222
37.871
50.571
63.906

12.649
12.573
12.573
12.598
11.786
11.862
11.811
11.735
12.675
12.675
12.675
12.675
12.040
12.141
12.090
12.065

T//(N-m)
311.445
516.752
756.929
1122.146
185.585
308.939
418.072
553.605
261.299
439.600
662.312
911.575
201.557
351.071
476.616
623.885

(COV 3.22%)
(COV 8.75%)
(COV 8.18%)
(COV 9.94%)
(COV 5.63%)
(COV 6.47%)
(COV 11.91%)
(COV 6.91%)
(COV 2.85%)
(COV = 6.93%)
(COV = 7.51%)
(COV = 6.97%)
(COV = 5.78%)
(COV = 10.43%)
(COV = 5.80%)
(COV = 9.57%)

Table 10. Shear moduli results using Lekhnitskiis solution for A and AC samples.

Samples
A

AC

Gxy (GPa)

Gxz (GPa)

xy Plane

xy Plane

Width
(mm)
xz Plane

24.994

37.719

50.470

63.754

24.994

37.719

50.470

63.754

25.222
37.744
50.394
63.856

7.382
7.376
7.446
7.288

6.438
6.449
6.479
6.424

6.462
6.469
6.489
6.454

7.266
7.266
7.280
7.247

3.927
3.933
3.862
4.028

4.016
3.985
3.901
4.055

4.016
3.982
3.900
4.050

3.936
3.936
3.873
4.031

Width
(mm) xz
Plane

xy Plane

xy Plane

25.070

37.795

50.495

63.830

25.070

37.795

50.495

63.830

25.222
37.871
50.571
63.906

5.461
5.434
5.490
5.470

5.076
5.072
5.099
5.091

5.367
5.360
5.379
5.371

5.619
5.611
5.618
5.619

4.278
4.336
4.215
4.258

4.351
4.372
4.241
4.278

4.296
4.342
4.220
4.267

4.252
4.314
4.258
4.252

A comparative summary of average experimental values of shear moduli for both


samples A and AC is given in Table 12, along with predicted values [Equations (6) and
(10)] from micro/macro-mechanics formulas. For the A samples, the differences are 9.3
and 5.9%, respectively, for in-plane and out-of-plane shear moduli between average
experimental values based on Lekhnitskiis solution and predicted values; whereas, the
corresponding differences are 6.0 and 7.5% for the results from Whitneys solution and
predicted values. For the AC samples, compared to the average experimental values from
Lekhnitskiis solution, the predicted values are lower by 16.9 and 2.0%, respectively, for
in-plane and out-of-plane shear moduli. Similarly, the corresponding predicted values are
lower by 14.6 and 0.2% than the average experimental results based on Whitneys

1169

Shear Moduli of Structural Composites from Torsion Tests


Table 11. Shear moduli results using Whitneys solution for A and AC samples.

Samples
A

AC

Gxy (GPa)

Gxz (GPa)

xy Plane

xy Plane

Width
(mm) xz
Plane

24.994

37.719

50.470

63.754

24.994

37.719

50.470

63.754

25.222
37.744
50.394
63.856

6.864
6.840
6.882
6.857

6.243
6.240
6.260
6.212

6.334
6.332
6.345
6.313

7.149
7.142
7.151
7.121

3.865
3.897
3.842
3.875

3.920
3.929
3.864
4.023

3.911
3.924
3.860
4.020

3.842
3.882
3.833
3.997

Width
(mm) xz
Plane

xy Plane

xy Plane

25.070

37.795

50.495

63.830

25.070

37.795

50.495

63.830

25.222
37.871
50.571
63.906

5.197
5.159
5.195
5.175

4.960
4.945
4.964
4.955

5.281
5.266
5.279
5.271

5.549
5.535
5.545
5.538

4.169
4.271
4.173
4.229

4.207
4.293
4.188
4.240

4.156
4.262
4.169
4.224

4.118
4.239
4.153
4.213

Table 12. Summary of Gxy and Gxz for A and AC samples.

Sample
A

Shear
Modulus
Gxy

Sample
Width
(mm)

a/b
Ratio

Lekhnitskii
(GPa)

Whitney
(GPa)

Predicted
(GPa)

24.994
37.719
50.47
63.754

1.98
3.00
4.01
5.06

7.373
6.447
6.469
7.265

6.861
6.238
6.331
7.141

6.247
Equation (6)

6.889
(7.25%)

6.643
(6.48%)

3.974
3.959
3.884
4.041

3.885
3.908
3.850
3.979

3.965
(1.63%)

3.905
(1.40%)

5.463
5.084
5.369
5.617

5.181
4.956
5.275
5.542

5.383
(4.16%)

5.239
(4.63%)

4.294
4.341
4.233
4.264

4.162
4.267
4.171
4.227

4.283
(1.07%)

4.207
(1.17%)

Average (COV)
Gxz

25.222
37.744
50.394
63.856

2.14
3.18
4.27
5.44

Average (COV)
AC

Gxy

25.070
37.795
50.495
63.830

1.98
2.98
3.98
5.04

Average (COV)
Gxz

25.222
37.871
50.571
63.906
Average (COV)

2.09
3.12
4.18
5.30

4.199
Equation (10)

4.475
Equation (6)

4.199
Equation (10)

1170

JULIO F. DAVALOS

ET AL.

(a)

(b)
Figure 6. (a) In-plane shear modulus Gxy for A samples; (b) Out-of-plane shear modulus Gxz for A samples.

solution. Graphical representations of the results are given in Figures 6a, 6b, 7a and 7b for
samples A and AC, respectively.
For the U samples, we observed an asymptotic increase of shear moduli values as the
sample-width increases (Figures 5a and 5b). In contrast to this behavior, there is no clear
trend on the data obtained for the A and AC samples in relation to the sample-width; in
general, the experimental values are randomly distributed around a narrow band, with
relatively larger discrepancies for the A samples (Figures 6a and 6b) than for the AC
samples (Figures 7a and 7b). One reason for the large variability with the A samples can be
attributed to the larger difference between Gxy and Gxz (degree of anisotropy) than for the
AC samples, which are nearly transversely isotropic (similar to the U samples). For both A
and AC samples, the experimental values are higher than the predictions for the in-plane
shear moduli.

Shear Moduli of Structural Composites from Torsion Tests

1171

(a)

(b)
Figure 7. (a) In-plane shear modulus Gxy for AC samples; (b) Out-of-plane shear modulus Gxz for AC samples.

CONCLUSIONS
It is shown that torsion tests of pultruded FRP composites with rectangular crosssections can be used to determine in-plane and out-of-plane shear moduli values. The
determination of out-of-plane shear moduli from samples with same material orientation
does not lead to accurate results. It is necessary to test samples with two material
orientations, which can be obtained by bonding flat laminates and cutting vertical strips
from the assemblies. Both Lekhnitskiis and Whitneys solutions with paired samples are
recommended to obtain shear moduli values using the torsional stiffness from torsion tests
and the data reduction methods outlined in this study. Consistent results are obtained for
both Lekhnitskiis and Whitneys solutions. The predicted in-plane and out-of-plane shear

1172

JULIO F. DAVALOS

ET AL.

moduli of the laminates are obtained from micro/macromechanics models for the case of
torsional loading [Equations (6) and (10)]. The combined experimental/analytical torsion
solutions presented in this paper can be efficiently used to obtain reliable shear moduli for
composite laminates.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The test samples were generously provided by Creative Pultrusions, Inc., Alum Bank,
PA. Partial financial support for this study was received from NSF-CRCD program.

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