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Impact and post impact response of laminated beams
at low temperatures
Samuel I. Ibekwea,*, Patrick F. Mensaha, Guoqiang Lia,b,
Su-Seng Pangb, Michael A. Stubble\ufb01eld a
aDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, Southern University, Baton Rouge, LA 70813, United States
bDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, United States
Available online 24 January 2006

In this study, glass \ufb01ber reinforced unidirectional and crossply laminated composite beams were subjected to low velocity impact and compression after impact (CAI) testing at low temperatures. A total of \ufb01fty e\ufb00ective 152.4 mm\u00b7 50.8 mm\u00b7 3.2 mm laminated beam specimens were prepared. Low velocity impact tests were conducted on the prepared specimens using an instrumented drop-tower impact machine at frozen temperatures 0\u00b0C,\u00c010\u00b0C, and\u00c020\u00b0C. Temperatures at 20\u00b0C and 10\u00b0C were also used for comparisons. CAI tests were conducted using a hydraulic-servo MTS machine to determine the residual load carrying capacity of the impact damaged speci- mens. Damage observation was conducted to aid in the understanding of the damage mechanism. The e\ufb00ect of environmental temper- atures on the impact damages and on the residual compressive buckling strength and elastic modulus was evaluated based on the test results.

\u00d32005 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Keywords:Laminates; Impact; Damage tolerance; Buckling; Strength; Low temperature
1. Introduction

Over the years, there has been mounting concern over the safety of laminated composites subjected to a low velocity impact. A low velocity impact on laminated com- posites can cause various types of damages including delamination, \ufb01ber breakage, matrix cracking, and \ufb01ber\u2013 matrix interfacial debonding. These types of damage are very dangerous because they cannot be detected visually and lead to structural failure at loads well below design lev- els. A number of researchers have investigated the low velocity impact behavior of laminated composites at an ambient environment. Baker et al.[1] has summarized the work on damage of laminated composites including the techniques for nondestructive testing and observation of

crack propagation, damage observation, application of failure criteria, e\ufb00ect of impactor mass, target geometry, impact velocity and initial stress and the residual strength. Abrate[2] and Cantwell and Morton[3] have also given reviews on the impact of laminated composites that cover both theoretical and experimental aspects of the problem, such as impact modeling, impact damage, damage predic- tion, and residual properties.

Because most composite structures are used out-of- doors, it cannot be avoided that composite structures are subjected to various environmental conditioning. The study of impact and post impact response of laminated compos- ites subjected to environmental conditioning other than ambient is more realistic. Karasek et al.[4] have evaluated the in\ufb02uence of temperature and moisture on the impact resistance of an epoxy/graphite composite. They have found that only at elevatedtemperatures has moisture had a signif- icant e\ufb00ect on damage initiation energy and that the energy required for initiating damage has been found to decrease

0263-8223/$ - see front matter\u00d3 2005 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
*Corresponding author.
E-mail address:ibekwe@engr.subr.edu(S.I. Ibekwe).
Composite Structures 79 (2007) 12\u201317

with temperature. The investigations by Bibo et al.[5] have shown that temperature is capable of altering the nature and extent of impact induced damages. Parvatareddy et al.[6] have investigated the low velocity impact behavior of lami- nated composites aged at elevated temperature in both air and nitrogen environments. They have indicated that the aging environment has a signi\ufb01cant e\ufb00ect on the residual tensile strength. Hale et al.[7] have found that the e\ufb00ect of temperature and moisture is interactive. The loss of strength and sti\ufb00ness of laminated composites at elevated temperatures is exacerbated by the increased rate of water absorption at high temperatures. Li et al.[8] have investi- gated the e\ufb00ect of cycling moisture on the low velocity impact behavior of laminated composites at elevated tem- perature. Their results show that the \ufb01rst moisture cycle has a signi\ufb01cant e\ufb00ect on reducing the low velocity impact resistance of laminated composites. Elevated temperature accelerates the damaging e\ufb00ect of cycling moistures. Pang et al.[9] have investigated the e\ufb00ect of ultraviolet radiation on the low velocity impact response of laminated beams. They have found that UV radiation alone has a signi\ufb01cant e\ufb00ect on reducing the residual load carrying capacity of impact damaged laminated beams. The presence of water enhanced the damage e\ufb00ect of UV radiation.

From the above literature survey, almost all the previ- ous studies were focused on impact and post-impact response at elevated temperatures. There is currently a lack of understanding of the low velocity impact behavior and the post-impact load carrying capacity of laminated com- posites at low temperatures. In this present study, low velocity impact response and post-impact compressive buckling strength of laminated composites at low tempera- tures were investigated experimentally. The e\ufb00ect of tem- perature variation on the low velocity impact behavior and residual compressive buckling strength were evaluated based on the test results.

2. Materials and experimental procedure
2.1. Materials

Two types of Scotchply 1002 laminated beams were used in the tests, one was unidirectional [08]s, and the other was crossply [(0/90)4]s. Scotchply is an E-glass reinforced epoxy laminated composite. The dimensions of the specimens were 152.4 mm\u00b7 50.8 mm\u00b7 3.2 mm. The mechanical prop- erties of a lamina are listed inTable 1.

2.2. Experimental procedure
The DynaTup Model 8250HV impact equipment was
used to conduct the low velocity impact tests. This drop-

weight tester combines gravity with pneumatic assistance to cover a range of impact velocity from 0.61 m/s to 36.6 m/s. With the combination of available weights that alter the hammer weight, impact energies in the range 0.6\u2013840 J can be achieved. An environmental conditioning chamber is integrated with the equipment. The temperature range is controlled with an electronic thermostatic control- ler between\u00c050\u00b0C and +175\u00b0C. The clamping \ufb01xture, which simulates a rigid clamping with a force of 72 kg, is located within this environmental chamber, ensuring that specimens are tested at the desired temperature. Communi- cation and data acquisition with the impact equipment is via a computer integrated control and data acquisition sys- tem. In this study, specimens were cooled in the environ- mental chamber achieved by utilizing lique\ufb01ed nitrogen. Impact tests were carried out at the following tempera- tures, 20\u00b0C, 10\u00b0C, 0\u00b0C,\u00c010\u00b0C, and\u00c020\u00b0C, which were regulated by a solenoid valve connected to the controller and environmental chamber. The comparatively higher temperatures 10\u00b0C and 20\u00b0C were used to make compar- isons. All the coupons were impacted at a velocity of 2 m/s and at an energy level of 12.8 J. The pneumatic clamp that rigidly clamped the specimen during impact tests was housed within the environmental chamber.Fig. 1 shows a schematic of the impact test set-up.

After impact test, the same environmental chamber, controller accessory and lique\ufb01ed nitrogen were used for the post impact compression tests as shown inFig. 2. A special \ufb01xture was designed to isolate the large hydraulic grips of the MTS 810 machine from the environmental chamber. This was done at a slow rate and under cooling water in order to minimize any extraneous damage. Before the test, specimens were placed in the chamber, and su\ufb03- cient soak time was allowed to ensure that the coupons

Table 1
Mechanical properties of a lamina
Fig. 1. A schematic of DynaTup drop tower impact machine.
S.I. Ibekwe et al. / Composite Structures 79 (2007) 12\u201317

attained their respective test temperatures. Compression tests were carried out at the same temperature as impact tests, i.e., 20\u00b0C, 10\u00b0C, 0\u00b0C,\u00c010\u00b0C, and\u00c020\u00b0C. The test results (stress\u2013strain curve, compressive buckling strength, elastic modulus, etc.) were recorded and analyzed by the assembled TEST STAR II software and computer.

3. Results and discussions
3.1. Impact test results and discussion

Using the DynaTup Model 8250 HV impact testing equipment, various impact responses, including impact load, impact energy, impact velocity, impact de\ufb02ection, indentation, etc., were obtained graphically and numeri- cally.Figs. 3 and 4 show typical variations of the impact load and energy with time during the impact process at var- ious temperatures. A total of 50 e\ufb00ective specimens (25 uni- directional and 25 crossply) were tested. Some of the specimens after the impact tests are shown inFig. 5. From these test results, a number of parameters can be chosen to characterize the e\ufb00ect of temperature on the low velocity impact responses of the GFRP laminates. Because the energy absorbed during the impact is a direct indication

of the damage levels of the specimens, impact energy
absorbed by the specimens will be analyzed.
Fig. 6shows the averaged impact energy absorbed by

the specimens at various temperatures. The absorbed energy is used to create various damages in the specimens, including delamination, matrix cracking, \ufb01ber breakage,

Fig. 2. Test set-up for compressive buckling test.
Fig. 3. Impact load and impact energy variation with time of an
unidirectional specimen at +20\u00b0C.
Fig. 4. Impact load and impact energy variation with time of an
unidirectional specimen at\u00c020\u00b0C.
Fig. 5. Specimens after impact.
Temperature (\u00b0C)
Fig. 6. Variation of energy absorbed with temperature.
S.I. Ibekwe et al. / Composite Structures 79 (2007) 12\u201317

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