Indexed on: 12 Apr '19Published on: 09 Apr '19Published in: Materials
Microcrack formation and delamination growth are the main damage mechanisms in the fatigue of composites. They lead to significant stiffness loss, introduce stress concentrations and can be the origin of subsequent damage events like buckling or fibre breakage, especially in case of shear and compression stresses during load reversal. Fatigue experiments of carbon fibre reinforced laminates were conducted at several stress ratios and analysed in terms of crack and delamination growth. These investigations were accompanied by microscopic imaging, digital image correlation and finite element modelling to take into account the effects of residual stresses and crack closure. It was found that residual stresses significantly change the local stress ratio in off-axis layers and lead to residual crack opening of inter fibre cracks. These cracks remain open and close under high compression loadings only. Furthermore, crack formation under pulsating compression loading turned out to be driven by residual stresses leading to perpendicular cracks as observed under pure tension loading. The experimental findings further confirm the severe detrimental effect of tension-compression loading on crack formation and delamination growth compared to pulsating tension-tension or compression-compression loads.