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theoretical and

applied fracture
ELSEVIER Theoretical and AppliedFracture Mechanics27 (1997) 13-20

Interlaminar cracking of composite shells

E.E. Theotokoglou
Department of Engineering Science, Section of Mechanics, The National Technical University of Athens, GR-15773 Athens, Greece


Experiments and two-dimensional finite-element analysis are carried out for unidirectional and angle-ply curved
laminates. These laminates are used for deep sea applications and offer considerable advantage over their metal counterparts.
Much work has recently been devoted to the failure mechanisms of thick composites. Delamination growth of thick
composite laminates and shells is also pertinent to the structural performance and certification of underwater composite
shells. In this study, specimens are produced and tested for failure. A linear and geometric non-linear two-dimensional finite
element analysis of the end-notched flexure specimen is performed to evaluate the compliance and Mode-II strain energy
release rate G n.

1. Introduction [1], delamination also tends to structures. Defect

criticality assessment should therefore include inter-
The use of composite cylinders for deep sea laminar cracking. This is particularly important for
applications offers considerable advantage in terms thick and curved composite structures. For filament
of buoyancy on account of the high specific proper- wound cylinders, delamination also occurs between
ties. Much work has recently been devoted to the angle-plies (e.g. + ~9). Previous works on delamina-
performance of thick-walled composite cylinders [1], tion has been limited to crack propagation in unidi-
but the influence of defects has received little atten- rectional (0 °) composites.
tion. Defect growth in thick composite shells is Delamination studies for marine structures in-
important to the design and manufacture of underwa- volve analysis of composites with curved geometries,
ter vehicles. As demonstrated by extensive studies angle-ply beams, and crack interfaces. Only a few
related to aerospace applications of composite struc- papers are available [4-9] on this subject.
tures [2,3], the interlaminar 'delamination' failure This paper is concerned with interlaminar crack
mode, which involves crack propagation between the propagation in beam specimens cut from flat panels
plies in a laminated composite, is also expected to be and cylindrical shells used for marine applications.
critical for thick composite structures. These specimens are tested in Mode II.
Applications of composites to marine structures A linear and geometric non-linear two-dimen-
under biaxial compression are currently limited to sional finite element analysis of the end-notched
their inability to attain the theoretical compressive flexure (ENF) specimen, is performed to determine
strength of the material, because of defects intro- the specimen compliance and the strain energy re-
duced in processing and manufacturing. In addition lease rate GII. The contact problem is included in the
to fiber wrinkling that causes kink band formation finite element model and the strain energy release

0167-8442/97/$17.00 Copyright © 1997Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

PII S0167-8442(97)00003-7
14 E.E. Theotokoglou / Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics 27 (1997) 13 20

Table 1 ,P
Properties of unreinforced resin (in mean and standard deviation)
Material E (OPa) Kjc (MPa ~m-m) G,. (J/m:)
Epoxy 2.58 (0.14) 0.70 (0.08) 175

rates are evaluated using the virtual crack closure

pl2 %
technique. Finally, the finite element results are com-
pared with the experimental results and the bean~ Fig. 1. End-notch flexure specimen.
theory solutions [9,10].

t shows a schematic of the ENF specimen where the

2. Material properties
crack is subjected to Mode II loading. The ENF
specimens were machined to give dimensions of
The materials tested are made of g l a s s / e p o x y
2L = 100 m m and an overall length of 125 mm. The
laminates. The epoxy type is LY556 from Ciba
thickness 2h of the unidirectional (UD) specimens is
Geigy, cured with hardener HY917 [1 1]. Table 1
from 4.62 to 4.76 ram.
gives the elastic and fracture toughness properties
In the case of tubes reinforced at [_+30] 6 the
[11]. The reinforcing fibers are of E-glass with mod-
specimens were cut from the composite cylinders as
ulus of elasticity 72.5 GPa and Poisson's ratio 0.3.
shown in Fig. 2. The geometrical parameters of the
Both unidirectional laminates and cylinders with
specimens are the same as those for the LID where
[-t-3016 lay up were filament wound by S E R M A
the inner radius of the cylinder is R / = 80 mm as
A.E. Mulhouse. The fiber volume fraction is 52.4%.
shown in Fig. 2. The thickness (2h) of the angle-ply
The internal diameter of the cylinder is 160 mm and
specimens varies from 5.00 mm to 5.11 ram. Shear
the nominal wall thickness is 5 ram. The laminates
loading is applied to the crack front for the ENF
are not symmetric about their mid-surface. The film
specimen shown in Fig. 3.
defects were placed between the 6th and 7th layers.
The orthotopic material properties of unidirec-
tional E - g l a s s / e p o x y composites based on microme-
chanics calculations [12], are listed in Table 2, where
the subscripts 1, 2 and 3 correspond to the longitudi-
nal transverse and thickness directions, respectively.

Film Inse~rt \
at mid-thickness "Beam Specimen
3. Experimental procedure

Specimens were cut from flat panels and cylindri-

cal shells, and tested at the French Oceanographic
research organization I F R E M E R (Brest Center). Fig.

Table 2
E-glass/epoxy material properties '~
Etl (GPa) E22 (GPa) GIz (GPa) G23 (GPa) ul2 u,~ J,.<,,"-
39.22 7.59 1.93 2.95 0.291 0.291
Fig. 2. lnterlaminar fracture specimens taken from filament wound
a E33 = E22, P13 = /212' GI3 = GI2" cylinders containing implanted defects at mid-thickness.
E.E. Theotokoglou / Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics 27 (1997) 13-20 15

l.Z Specimen 3
Specimen /+ ~

1.0 ,
7 ~
ENF Specimen
0.8 ,
Fig. 3. Beam fracture specimen for shear delamination fracture
testing of cylinder wall.

~. 0.6 )
The crack length is 25 mm. The load was applied
to the ENF specimens via rollers in a three-point
bend text fixture. Straight cylindrical supports were
used. The specimens were precracked from a Mode I
' /
a_ i i

test for the flat UD and curved [ + 30] 6 specimens. 0.20t*/ i I ~

The displacements are measured from the central
point taken via the crosshead displacement trans-
1.6 I ! ~ ! , 0 , ] , , ,
specimen 1 : i ...._. 0 2 /, 6 8 10 12 It,
• / ~r m
Ispeci " en- - 2 ,! ~ i: ~ N~. Displctcement d (mini
1./+ - - i Fig. 5. Load-displacement curves obtained by experiments in the
II / ' I , case of angle-ply [ + 30] 6 E-glass/epoxy curved laminates.
yll ,/~ ~ i
i' i

VII t ' ducer. The test specimens were loaded to failure.

t 1.0 III// !
Fig. 4 gives two load versus displacement curves of
l i D Mode II tests for the aluminum foil defect. For
the curved specimens [ + 30]6 with a precrack under
Mode I, the load-displacement curves are given in
~o.a , ) Fig. 5. The specimen dimensions, loads and dis-
) , placements at non-linearity for both cases can be
found in Table 3.
o.6 i
0.~ Table 3
Specimen dimensions, loads and displacements at non-linearity
Specimen Width (mm) Thickness P(N) d (mm)
O.Z (b) (mm) (2h)
UN E-glass/epoxy
Specimen 1 20 4.71 1015 3.675
o, l I Specimen 2 20 4.76 1098 3.881
0 5 10 15 2.0 25
Curved (+ / -30) E-glass/epoxy
Displacement d (ram) Specimen 3 20 5.04 566 3.45
Fig. 4. Load-displacement curves obtained by experiments in the Specimen 4 20 5.06 534 3.22
case of unidirectional E-glass/epoxy laminates.
16 E.E. Theotokoglou / Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics 27 (1997) 13-20

4. Analysis of the ENF specimens Eqs. (4) and (5) were modified in [10] to include
the effect of transverse shear deformation, thus
Load-line compliance, C, is defined as the ratio of 1.2L + 0.9a
the displacement, d, under the central loading point Cs~~ = CBv + (6)
to the applied load as given by 4bGi3h

c p
G~,H=G~T[1 +0.2(E,/Gl3)(h/a) 2] (7)
where Gi3 is the interlaminar shear modulus.
The energy release rate Gll takes the form [] 4]
p2 dC
G. (3) 5. Finite element analysis of the ENF-specimens
2b da
where a is the crack length and b is the width of the Much efforts have been made to analyze the ENF
specimen. specimen by two-dimensional finite element analysis
The load line compliance, C B'r, and the energy [15-18]. In general, analysis of the ENF-thick com-
release rate, G~T, have been obtained in [9] as posite specimen would require a three-dimensional
calculation in conjunction with a contact algorithm.
2L 3 + 3a
The contact area that could potentially extend along
CBT = 8 E 1bh 3 (4) the entire crack interface is an unknown. As a sim-
plification, the present study considers a two-dimen-
C~ "r = 9 a 2 p e / ( 1 6 e l b 2 h 3) (5)
sional analysis and precludes the edge effects. The
where L is the half-span of the beam, h is the four-node isoparametric plane strain finite element
half-thickness (Fig. 1) and E~, is the Young's modu- code, ANSYS [19], is utilized. Triangular plane strain
lus in the longitudinal direction. elements are adopted as transition elements between

-0.127mm- t~
0.127 mm

( CONTAC k8)-I----L
3-node element[ I-"
along crock [ l
interface [
0.127 mm

_ I1"1111

I II l_J /
Crock Tip ~ -
0.127 mm

0.0127 mm
Fig. 6. Enlarged view of the crack tip deformed mesh (symmetric configuration).
E.E. Theotokoglou/ Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics 27 (1997) 13-20 17

Contact Surface and Nodes material is considered to be macroscopically homo-

geneous and orthotopic while the structural details
on the sub-laminate level, such as the individual
plies are neglected.

-~' ~ Target Surface and Nodes 6. Results and discussion

Fig. 7. CONTAC48, interface element definition [19].
The compliances and energy release rate were
calculated for the range of different unidirectional
fine and coarse mesh regions. Significant mesh re- flat and angle-ply [-t-3016 curved specimens. The
finement is provided to calculate the strain energy normalized crack length ( a / L ) equals to 0.5.
release rate with accuracy. Elements at the crack tip The compliance values predicted with the friction-
have an aspect ratio of unity and nominal length of less linear finite-element analyses and those from the
approximately of 0.0127 mm. Mesh refinement in experimental procedure and the bending deformation
the vicinity of the crack-tip is consistent with that (Eqs. (4) and (6) are presented in Tables 5 and 6.
used in [17,20]. The details of the deformed finite They correspond to the UD and curved specimens. It
element grid pattern near the crack tip is shown in is shown that the finite element CFE values are lower
Fig. 6. than the experimental CEX values. It is also observed
The frictionless contact problem is incorporated that the finite element CFE values agree better with
into the finite element model by the connecting the beam theory without taking the transverse shear
nodes across the crack interface with the triangular deformation into account. The finite element values
elements (CONTAC48) [19] of zero tensile stiffness are lower than the beam theory and the transverse
and infinite compressive stiffness. As illustrated in shear deformation theory values and the maximum
Fig. 7, CONTAC48 is a two-dimensional point-to- difference is about - 3.6% and - 5.4% for the unidi-
surface contact element which permits the specifica- rectional and the curved laminates respectively in the
tion of the compressive stiffness, the crack-face case of beam theory and about - 7 . 5 % in the case of
which considers as the target line, and a coefficient transverse shear deformation theory. In addition, Eq.
of friction for the sliding surfaces. Finally, the finite (4) for CBT, provides excellent agreement (less than
element mesh consists of 1576 isoparametric four- 0.2%) with experimental results in all cases investi-
node elements, 150 triangular elements and 200 gated. The good agreement between experimental
CONTAC48 elements. compliance and beam theory gives confidence to the
The strain-energy-release rates are calculated us- finite element models as an accurate description of
ing the virtual crack-closure technique [21]. Since the ENF fracture specimen.
only Mode II crack extension is considered, it suf- In order to determine the energy release rate, the
fices to take the strain energy release rate component crack closure technique was applied. In Tables 7 and
G n, determined by 8, finite element strain energy release rate calcula-
tions are correlated to beam theory results. As in the
GEl : - ~ ~ a { F x i ( U k - U'k) } (8) compliance case, the finite element analysis for the
values of G H, agrees better with the beam theory
where, Fxi are the forces at node i (Fig. 6) in the
x-direction. The quantities (u k - u'k) are the relative
tangential nodal displacements. A crack length of 25 Table 4
mm and crack increment (Aa) of 0.0127 mm were In-plane mechanical material properties of the angle-ply [+ 30]6
used. E-glass/epoxy
For the angle-ply [ + 30] 6 laminates, the in-plane Exx (GPa) Eyy (GPa) Gxy (GPa) //xy
mechanical properties given in Table 4 were calcu- 19.11 7.32 8.73 0.818
lated using the classical lamination theory [13]. The
18 E.E. Theotokoglou / Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics 27 (1997) 13-20

Table 5
Comparison of compliance values from linear finite-element analyses, beam theory solutions and experimental results in the case of
unidirectional E-glass/epoxy laminates
Specimen FE analysis Experiment Beam theory Compliance ratio
CVE ( m / N ) × 10 - ° CEx ( m / N ) × 10 o CB3-( m / N ) × 10 6 CsH ( m / N ) × 10 -6 CFE/CEx CFE/CBT CFE/Cs~I
Specimen 1 3.496 3.621 3.626 3.776 0,965 0.964 0.926
Specimen 2 3.380 3.535 3.504 3.652 0.956 0.965 0.926

Table 6
Comparison of compliance values from linear finite-element analyses, beam theory solutions and experimental results in the case of
angle-ply ( + / - 30) E-glass/epoxy curved laminates
Specimen FE analysis Experiment Beam theory Compliance ratio
CFE ( m / N ) X 10 -6 CEX ( m / N ) X 10 ~ CBT ( m / N ) × 10 -6 CSH ( m / N ) X 10- 6 CFE/CE X CFE/CB T CFE/Cs H
Specimen 3 5.746 6.095 6.072 6.212 0.943 0.946 0.925
Specimen 4 5.686 6.030 5.989 6.129 0.943 0.949 0.928

Table 7
Comparison of G . values from linear finite-element analyses and beam theory solutions in the case of unidirectional E-glass/epoxy
Specimen FE analysis Beam theory Gn-ratio
G~E ( j / m 2) GBT ( j / m 2) GSln ( j / m 2) ~,,FEi c , ,BT O~#lo,S,n
Specimen 1 1720 1771 1813 0.971 0.949
Specimen 2 1940 1998 2046 0.971 0.948

Table 8
Comparison of G , values from linear finite-element analyses and beam theory solutions in the case of angle-ply ( + / - 30) E-glass/epoxy
curved laminates
Specimen FE analysis Beam theory Gn-ratio
G~E ( j / m 2) GBT ( j / m 2) GISIH( j / m 2) GnrE/GIIBT G.FE/GIISH
Specimen 3 882 922 934 0.957 0.944
Specimen 4 774 808 819 0.958 0.945

Table 9
Comparison of compliance and G u values from linear and non-linear finite-element analyses in the case of unidirectional E-glass/epoxy
Specimen Linear FE Non-linear FE Compliance ratio Gu-ratio
CFE ( m / N ) X 10 -6 GI~E ( J / m 2) CNFE ( m / N ) X 10 0 GNFE( j / m 2) CFE/CNFE GIIFE/G nNFE
Specimen 1 3.496 1720 3.501 1700 0.999 1.012
Specimen 2 3.380 1940 3.389 1917 0.997 1.012
E.E. Theotokoglou / Theoretical and Applied Fracture Mechanics 27 (1997) 13-20 19

Table 10
Comparison of compliance and G u values from linear and non-linear f'mite element analyses in the case of angle-ply ( + 30) E-glass/epoxy
curved laminates
Specimen Linear FE Non-linear FE Compliance ratio Gn-ratio
CFE (m/N) × 10 -6 GI~E (J/m 2) CNFE (m/N) × 10 -6 GNFE( j / m 2) CFE/CNFE GIIFE/GHNFE
Specimen 3 5.746 883 5.760 873 0.998 1.01 l
Specimen 4 5.686 774 5.702 762 0.997 1.016

than with the beam theory including transverse shear the curved laminates have been simulated by a plane
deformation. Inspection of the results presented in finite element model. The absence of an effect of
Tables 7 and 8, indicate that the maximum difference large deflect'ions on the evaluation of the energy
is about - 3 % for the unidirectional and about release rate GI~ is also investigated.
- 4.3% for the curved laminates in the case of beam • The curved specimens gave much smaller G H
theory and about - 5.2% and - 5.6% respectively in values than the flat UD specimens, suggesting that
the case of transverse shear deformation. there may be a significant Mode I component pre-
To investigate the effect of finite rotations caused sent.
by large deflections, the geometric nonlinear analysis
of the ENF fracture specimen is conducted with the
ANSYS finite element program [19]. This analysis is Acknowledgements
also conducted without friction. Tables 9 and 10
The author is grateful to Professor Leif A. Carls-
show the comparison of CVE and G~E values ob-
son of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at
tained from linear and geometric non-linear analysis
Florida Atlantic University for support and encour-
for a crack length of a = 0.5L. Both UD and curved
agement during the course of this investigation. Fur-
specimens are used. Linear and non-linear solutions
thermore, thanks are due to Dr. Peter Davies of the
are in agreement with each other with maximum
French Oceanographic Institute IFREMER (Brest
differences about - 0 . 3 % for compliance and about
Center) for supply with the experimental results.
1.6% for G H, in the case of curved laminates.

7. Conclusions
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The previous work is concerned with the interlam- vol. 162, ASME AMD-, New York, 1993.
[2] K.L. Reifsnider (Ed.), Damage in Composite Materials,
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