Fatigue Damage Characterization Of Carbon/Epoxy Laminates Under Spectrum Loading
Fibre Reinforced Polymer Composites are extensively used in aircraft structures because of its high specific stiffness, high specific strength and tailorability. Though Fibre Reinforced Polymers offer many advantages, they are not free from problems. The damage of different nature, e.g., service mechanical damages, fatigue damage or environmental damage can be observed during operating conditions. Among all the damages, manufacturing or service induced, delamination related damage is the most important failure mechanisms of aircraft-composite structures and can be detrimental for safety. Delamination growth under fatigue loading may take place due to local buckling, growth from free edges and notches such as holes, growth from ply-drops and impact damaged composites containing considerable delamination. Delamination growth can also occur due to interlaminar stresses, which can arise in complex structures due to unanticipated loading. The complex nature of composite failure, involving different failure modes and their interactions, makes it necessary to characterize/identify the relevant parameters for fatigue damage resistance, accumulation and life prediction. An effort has been made in this thesis to understand the fatigue behavior of carbon fibre reinforced epoxy laminates under aircraft wing service loading conditions. The study was made on laminates with different lay-up sequences (quasi-isotropic and fibre dominated) and different geometries (plain specimen, specimen with a hole and ply-drop specimen). The fatigue behaviour of the composite was analyzed by following methods: . Ultrasonic C-Scan was used to characterize the delamination growth. . Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA) was done to study the interfacial degradation due to fatigue loading. In this analysis, the interfacial strength indicator and interfacial damping were calculated. The DMA also provides the storage modulus degradation under fatigue loading. . Scanning electron microscope examination was carried out to understand the fatigue damage mechanisms. . A semi-empirical phenomenological model was also used to estimate the residual fatigue life. This research work reveals that the Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer laminates are in the safe limit under service loading conditions, except the specimen with a hole. The specimen with a hole showed delaminations around the hole due to stress concentration and higher interlaminar stresses at the hole edges and this delamination is found to be associated with fibre breakage and fibre pullout. The quasi-isotropic laminate is found to show poorer fatigue behaviour when compared to fibre dominated laminate and ply-drop also shows poor performance due to high stress concentration in the ply-drop region.