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Part A: applied science and manufacturing
Composites: Part A 34 (2003) 1265-1271
Four-point bend interlaminar shear testing of uni- and multi-directional carbon/epoxy composite systems
P. Feraboli", K.T. Kedward
Department of Mechanical and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA Accepted 6 February 2003
Abstract Purpose of the paper is to investigate the possibility of extending the interlaminar shear strength (ILSS) results obtained by four-point bend testing of unidirectional laminates to multidirectional laminates, such as cross-ply and quasi-isotropic, the testing of which is a common practice in the industry but has not been previously validated in the literature. An experimental database is gathered through the known modified version of the ASTM D2344 short beam test and the results show a surprising proximity of results for the three different fiber architectures for the same composite system. Various finite element analyses were developed using ANSYS® software, allowing for better insight on the mechanics of delamination in four-point bending, and showed extremely good agreement with the experimental values. The final and most accurate model partially confirmed observations made by other authors, and includes the 'skewed' profile of the shear stress through the thickness and its variation along the length, the distribution of the shear stress across the width, the location of delamination initiation and propagation and maximum ILSS and the shear stress contour. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Four-point bend; Short beam shear test; Interlaminar shear; Delamination; Carbon/epoxy
1. Introduction The highly anisotropic nature of laminated composite structures causes a mismatch in mechanical properties between individual laminae within the laminate, which in tum can produce delamination initiation and propagation. Interlaminar shear stress develops at the free edge of multidirectional laminates and at local discontinuities such as notches, ply-drops, bonded and bolted joints, where ply stresses must become zero to satisfy boundary conditions. According to current yet not extensive literature, these stresses need to be evaluated for structural applications and many authors feel that delamination growth is the fundamental issue in the evaluation of laminated composite systems for durability and damage tolerance. Three-point bending test, also known as short beam shear test, is often used to measure the apparent interlaminar shear strength (lLSS) of composite laminates.
Corresponding author. Tel.: + 1-805-893-3381; fax: E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com (K.T. Kedward).
Since concerns arise about this test because of the strong localized damage occurring underneath the loading roller, a modified version of the test, the four-point bending test, is more frequently used, as in the present work, because of its better distribution of the load. Previous experimental and analytical work [3,8,11] on unidirectional carbonepoxy showed that changing the support span over thickness (sIt) ratio has dramatic effects on the measured short beam and four-point bend shear strengths. The actual stress-state in a given beam specimen is threedimensional, with stresses varying through the thickness and along the length and therefore cannot be adequately interpreted by means of classical beam theory. Early theoretical work  also predicted a variation of shear stresses across the width, with peaks at the edge of the coupon. Experimental work  by means of Moire fringe interferometry showed an interesting discontinuous distribution of the shear strain through the thickness of the specimen, with peaks at the ply interfaces where compliant resin-rich regions are formed and delamination tends to originate. The present work intends to verify some of these previously reported results for unidirectional laminates and investigate their applicability
1359-835X/03/$ - see front matter © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/S 1359-835X(03)00204-5
which in the present work is used for calculating the ILSS.35 mm) in width were cut at the plate boundary in order to avoid any external influences on the testing procedure.1266 P. (12.1. A single crack propagates from a region located about one thickness away ( Outer Span Loading Fixture tw-----~/ - Stand-off Fig. The simple beam theory yields the expression for the max shear stress in a 7= -- 3P 4 wt (1) homogeneous beam.75 in. Kedward / Composites: Part A 34 (2003) 1265-1271 to more complex sequences. Test procedure: fixture and parameters The laminates tested were unidirectional [OO]s' crossply [0/900]s and quasi-isotropic [0/ ± 45/900]s lay-ups of carbon fiber reinforced epoxy impregnated tape. (6. 2.02 in.2.4 X 4. (4. The flexural strength of the material was also measured using the same general-purpose fixture by simply adjusting the inner and outer spans and by using a specimen geometry conforming to ASTM D790  specifications.165 in. Therefore. twice the ratio prescribed by ASTM D2344  for three-point bend. in order to give the same nominal stress in the central region (Fig. This discussion is directed only to a comparison based on first inter-ply failure. fiber architectures and stacking Slider Rods To Load Cell 2. an sit ratio of 8. which is the commonly accepted indication of failure for this type of test. possible impacted material and manufacturing related boundary defects.and multi-directional specimens up to ultimate load might reveal substantial discrepancies.165 in.lmin (0.0 is used. 2.5 mmlmin) and 2 Hz sampling rate on IBM PC-type computer. respectively to determine Fig. respectively.2 mm) thickness and the standard deviation in the measured dimensions was negligible. with a geometry of 4 X 1 X 0. Feraboli.2. load picks up again and in some cases the peak load may reach the original value.2 mm). the structure can continue to sustain considerable loads way beyond fracture initiation. particularly for laminates with multiple fiber orientation. doublescrew test frame under displacement control. (7. it is possible to assert that the results obtainable from testing unidirectional specimens can be used to assess the behavior of more complex configurations of the same geometry and composite system.5 and 1. 0. in the longitudinal direction.6 X 25. 1.6 mm) width.3 (101. After the first interply failure.7 and 31. Deformed and non-deformed configurations of ILS specimen. Further work should be done in the fracture propagation regime and a comparison of results between uni. The coupons were placed in a sliding roller four-point bending fixture (Fig. .T. Results and discussion 2. but upon removing the specimen or with slightly higher displacement it would manifest visibly. Specimens: preparation and characteristics. Four-point bend fixture and specimen. from the support. 2. 2) with an inner and outer span of 0. The average geometry was 1. The samples were tested to failure (Mean static failure load MSFL) on an Instron 1123 electro-mechanical. In few tests failure was not visible at the time of the load drop. such as long-time environmental exposure. The interlaminar shear stress results are reported in Tables 1-3 for each coupon and laminate architecture.12] on the variability of the ILS strength with the degree of orthotropy of the material. Experimental 2. A sharp drop in the loaddisplacement curves and an audible cracking sound accompany catastrophic delamination.1.2.2 mm'') and inner and outer spans of 1. lnterlaminar shear testing Failure occurs suddenly in a macroscopically brittle mode by crack initiation and propagation. K.1 and 95.300 in.7 mm). usually at the axis of symmetry or within a 1/4 of the thickness above.300 in. Concerns were previously expressed [2. However. the same four-point bend fixture was used.3. 0. (33 mm) length.25 in. Other test Settings were crosshead feed rate of 0.5 and 3. Strips of material approximately 1/4 in. 1). Flexural testing According to ASTM standard D790.7. From the laminates a total of 30 coupons were cut with a diamond coated tip table saw. As summarized in Table 5.2. (38.
2) (76. i. The laminates were modeled with 45 plies.136 0.0043) 0. Analytical 3.5) (74.003 (0.283 0.0060) (0.4) (75.T.0076) specimens.348 1.235 0.330 1.0061) Length in.0072) (0.297 1.0068) (0. but they did not yield reliable ILS results or stress profiles.350 (0.300 1.0043) Width in.0044) (0. 129.0042) (0.0042) (0.0065) (0.0036) Width in.0036) (0. laminate stacking sequence does not affect the ILS strength because of its matrix-dominated nature.0060) (0.0) 0.271 0.0329) (0.0035) (0.298 0.3) (76.167 0.0076) (0.168 (0.4) (77.0063) (0.6) 216 (1. 3).0069) (0.139 0.348 1. So.1.8) .157 0.0035) (0.0329) Load lb ft (N) 652 648 624 744 772 728 692 684 678 772 (2900) (2882) (2776) (3309) (3434) (3238) (3078) (3043) (3016) (3434) ILSS psi (MPa) 11236 10803 11164 11736 11231 10971 10955 10942 11221 11158 (77.0042) (0. 179.0330) (0.0343) Load Ib ft (N) 511 495 499 466 472 443 479 495 490 499 (2273) (2201) (2219) (2073) (2100) (1971) (2131) (2202) (2180) (2220) 1267 ILSS psi (MPa) 11095 10736 11265 10932 11555 11066 11146 11204 11029 11027 (76.0004) 1.4) (79.351 1.0065) (0.00013) 0.0342) (0.9) (77. (m) 0.5) (77.280 (0.0331) (0.0036) (0.4) (76.168 0.0044) (0.168 0.0035) 0.297 (0.0035 in. A threedimensional model was necessary to investigate through thickness and across width profiles of the ILS stress.015 (0.347 1. each 0.0060) 0.0055) (0. Kedward / Composites: Part A 34 (2003) 1265-1271 Table I Unidirectional test results Specimen Uni 1 Uni2 Uni3 Uni4 Uni5 Uni6 Uni 7 Uni 8 Uni9 Uni 10 Avg.9) 263 (1.005 (0.267 0.0) (77.348 (0.e.139 0.173 0. Finite element model The model used to reproduce the four-point bend coupon had dimensions based on the recorded average of the tested Table 2 Quasi-isotropic test results Specimen Quasi Quasi Quasi Quasi Quasi Quasi Quasi Quasi Quasi Quasi Avg. Sdev.350 1.294 1. 894 MPa).273 0.0058) (0. due to symmetry conditions.0342) (0.15.0) (76.0035) (0.0071) 0. K. Once a sound understanding of the behavior of the unidirectional laminate was gained.0035) (0.282 0. cross-ply and quasi-isotropic laminates are.239 (0.142 (0.0001) 699 (3109) 52 (231) 11158 (76.09 mm) thick.140 0.0330) (0.139 0. (m) 0.5) (75.0043) (0.7) (75. The elastic properties of the baseline unidirectional tape are reported in Table 4. Sdev.8) (77.0043) (0.0036) (0. Thickness in.354 1.304 1.0072) (0. (0.222 0.0056) (0. 853. while the flexural strengths of the three different architectures are substantially different due to their intrinsic fiberdominated behavior. (m) 0.0343) (0.138 0.238 0.0329) (0.0069) (0.P.140 0. Length in. Only 114 of the coupon was analyzed.0) (80.170 (0.136 0.297 1.0069) (0.0343) (0. fiber volume.0343) (0. The average values recorded for the unidirectional.254 0.0002) 485 (2157) 20 (89) 11106 (76.0331) (0.0330) (0.67 ksi (1235.230 0. Failure manifests as fiber breakage and laminate splitting at the outer plies and the recorded values of the flexural strength are an order of magnitude greater than the interlaminar shear ones.247 0.0338) (0.0004) 1.300 1. (m) 0.80.0060) (0.255 0.015 (0. for the tested configuration and ply thickness.9) 0.171 0.0043) (0.237 0. 123.271 0.7) (76.5) the average flexural strength for the same laminates.139 (0. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Thickness in.0331) (0.00003) 0.141 0. as much as other factors do.0329) (0.0040) (0.298 1.239 0.166 0.5) (74.0061) (0. the cross-ply and the more complicated stacking sequence of the quasi-isotropic were investigated. which allowed for fiber orientation in the case of the multidirectional laminates as well as ply interface and shear stress profile investigation.001 (0.350 1. Feraboli. void content  and curing process parameters. and one element per ply was used throughout the entire study. respectively.0035) (0.302 1.0342) (0. it is reported that some early models were attempted with the aid of ANSYS element type Solid Quad 8 node 82 and Shell Linear layer 99.351 1. For reference. (m) 1.6) (75.299 (0.236 (0. The applied load was half of the tested average MSFL 650 lb (2891 N) and it was prescribed as concentrated load (nodal force).166 0.0330) 0.173 0.0035) (0.304 1.0342) 0.009 (0.0343) (0.216 0.0076) (0. The total number of elements used in the final model was 9450 (Fig.298 0. 3.0344) (0. A better overall result was obtained with the Solid Layered 46 element.301 (0. (m) 1.
boundary conditions and load of final PEA model are highlited.302 0. This is suspected to be the location at which delamination originates.3 GPa) GyZ = 0.0330) (0.7) (76.8Msi (55.6Msi (4. = 1. a c Fig.298 1.2.244 0.159 0.280 0. Investigation of the shear stress profile through the thickness at three different locations along the length Figs.295 (0.291 0. 5(1-3) that are very similar to the ones obtained in Ref.299 (0.0331) (0. it was possible to plot the interlaminar shear stress contours (Figs. .0041) 0.2 GPa) IIxy = 0.003 (0.35 Fig.253 0. In this case. across the width and through the thickness and are reported in the following figures. b.284 (0.0077) (0. hence they are not representative of the strength of the laminates.8Msi (55.0041) (0. 3.0330) 0.1268 Table 3 Cross-ply test results Specimen Cross Cross Cross Cross Cross Cross Cross Cross Cross Cross Avg. the variation is contained within a few percent because of the small width of the specimen. Results and discussion From the finite element model. (m) 0.0006) 1. (m) 1.0001) 685 (3047) 58 (258) 11099 (76.306 0.3) (73.2) (76.002 (0.2) (76.5) (76.0071) (0. Kedward / Composites: Part A 34 (2003) 1265-1271 Width in.297 1.163 0.276 0. Nonetheless.0329) (0. mesh.165 0.0330) (0. a close form elasticity solution was given to predict the three-dimensional variation of the shear stress across the width and the maximum value that would be reached at the lateral free edge. = 0. the maximum and minimum values refer to the local stress concentration produced by the loading and supporting rollers.2 GPa) II" s.297 1.0) 3.302 1.0078) (0. at the symmetry axis or within a 1/4 of the thickness away.0077) Length in. The peak occurs at about 1 thickness away from the support. K.5) (78.0072) (0.304 0.0062) (0.5 Msi (10. the model confirmed those predictions and the results are plotted in Figs.022 (0.299 1.8) (80. c represent the locations of interest for the stress profiles.1 GPa) lIyZ = 0.161 (0. (m) 0.300 1.5) 291 (2. In the depicted quarter portion of the ILS specimen.294 1.0042) (0. The values obtained by applying the prescribed average load (load-control approach) were also confirmed by running the model under a prescribed average displacement (displacement-control approach).0074) (0. a.0042) (0. and its value confirms the test data for all three architectures (Table 5).304 1.0329) (0.161 0. Feraboli.162 0.5) 0.3 .166 0.0070) (0.0330) (0.0329) (0. By highlighting the central portion of the beam (Figs.0041) (0. 7(1-3) again confirmed the results obtained for unidirectional specimens in Ref. It can be noted that in section b.0041) (0.0331) (0. In Ref. The highlighted curves symbolize the distributions of the ILSS along the length.283 0. away from the rollers. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Thickness in.0329) Load lb ft (N) 718 738 744 620 680 700 708 580 624 738 (3194) (3283) (3309) (2758) (3025) (3114) (3149) (2580) (2776) (3283) ILSS psi (MPa) 10665 11041 11124 11072 11193 11137 11635 11073 10664 11384 (73.166 0. 8(1-3).165 0.1 GPa) Gxy = 0. It is noteworthy that the crossply yielded in both the calculation and PEA a much lower variation. 4.0330) (0.0042) (0.5 Msi (10.1) (76.161 0.0041) (0. . The concentration at the rollers is very high but rapidly decreases to values below the failure threshold in less than 1112 of the thickness. .3 Ey = 1.3 GPa) Gxz = 0.302 (0. Sdev.0064) (0.0042) (0.0077) (0. 6(1-3) a more accurate distribution of the shear stress can be obtained.301 1.3) (77.00005) 0.T.0041) P. The results obtained are reported in Table 5.0040) (0.0072) 0. Qualitative representation of the portion of the ILS specimen used in the PEA model. Table 4 Elastic properties for the unidirectional tape Ex = 18 Msi (124.163 (0. the profile is very similar to the one predicted by simple beam theory.
(1) Unidirectional (2) Quasi-isotropic (3) Cross-ply. (1) Unidirectional (2) Quasi-isotropic (3) Cross-ply. b. the beam should be subjected to constant shear loading and linearly increasing moment between the supporting and loading no~~ c b . (3) 4. 114 Model of ILS coupon: shear stress distribution through the thickness. c (green. Conclusions The main purpose of the paper was to investigate the possibility of using the static ILSS data obtained by testing simple unidirectional laminates to infer the properties of Fig. and the value that it attains in between is not constant but peaks within 1/12 of the length. Feraboli. purple. it takes about 116of the length for the shear stress to drop to zero.~~~~~----------------------~ (1) fleIGHI Fig. (1) Unidirectional (2) Quasi-isotropic (3) Cross-ply. Kedward / Composites: Part A 34 (2003) 1265-1271 (1) • 1269 (1) c 2 b . 5. blue) represent the loading. (2) rollers. Theoretically. . 114Model of ILS coupon: shear stress contour detail of critical area. both at the inner and outer noses.T. 9(1-3).. 7.P. 114Model ofILS coupon: shear stress contour. In the practice. 6. K. Curves a. then the shear should vanish and the stress state would become of pure constant bending moment. HEIGHT (2) • (2) c (3) (3) < Fig. mid-span and support locations. The distribution of the shear stress along the length of the beam is depicted in Figs.
This is the suspected location of delamination origination.57) 11. in particular quasiisotropic and cross-ply.16 (76. Furthermore.37) 11. 9. c (green. and it confirms .9) 11. The experimental and analytical data did confirm the validity of such investigation. [3. K.44) 11. the shear stress distributions through the thickness and across the width reported in Refs.8) Beam theory max Test data (average) FEA (contour) Kedward (peak width) Ref. and the results obtained with the closed form solution and the model were in perfect agreement. Curves a.01 (75. also defined as unstable fracture .86 (74.22 (77.----------b ~.9] for unidirectional laminates were confirmed for the other configurations with the aid of a three-dimensional finite element model. see Table 5.94) 11.--- . Fig.21 (77. therefore giving an answer to the question raised in Table 5 Shear stress predictions with average geometry and loading Specimen Unidirectional ksi (MPa) 10. which leads to classical interlaminar failure.02 (76.0) 11.3) 11.ql· •• LEIIGTM Fig. 8.a diO a j (3) • J (3) • b c / / I =:: L- I~. mid-span and support locations. the matrix-dominated property of the ILSS was confirmed by its independence of fiber orientation and laminate lay-up.4. Feraboli.3) Cross-ply ksi (MPa) 11.1 0 (76.T.10 (76.  on the influence of the degree of orthotropy on the ILS strength.27 (77. 114Model of ILS coupon: shear stress distribution across the width.94 (75.14 (76. (1) Unidirectional (2) Quasi-isotropic (3) Cross-ply.93) 11.7) Quasi-isotropic ksi (MPa) 10. purple.1270 (1) • h P. blue) represent the loading. b. Finally. Kedward / Composites: Part A 34 (2003) 1265-1271 (1) • .19 (70. (1) Unidirectional (2) Quasi-isotropic (3) Cross-ply. x ~---- y (2) e • (2) • h c e seu :: . From the detailed shear stress contour it was possible to discover the point of maximum stress in a region within one thickness away from the supporting roller for all three laminates. more complex stacking sequences. 114Model of ILS coupon: shear stress distribution along the length.52) 10.
 Wisnom MR.27: l33-55. Interlaminar shear strength of a carbon fiber reinforced composite material under impact conditions.T. References  ASTM standard D2344/ D2344M. (5):85-95. On the short beam test method. . Compos Sci Technol 1986. Apparent interlaminar shear strength of unidirectional parallel fiber composites by short beam method.  Sullivan JL.25:6. Kedward / Composites: Part A 34 (2003) 1265-1271 1271 previous in situ observation others. . Composites 1994. Compos Mater 1973. Automobili Lamborghini.  Whitney 1M. Elasticity analysis of orthotropic beams under concentrated loads. They also would like to acknowledge the work of their colleague and friend Attilio Masini. Flexural and interlaminar shear properties of glass-reinforced phenolic composites. Exp Mech 1985. 7:129. Van Oene H. 1995.  Adams D.  Sayers K.  Post D. as well as his mentor. SEM Fall Conference on Experimental Mechanics. K. ASTM. Compos Sci TechnoI1985.and four-point shear testing of unidirectional composite materials.and four-point shear test specimens. An elasticity analysis for orthotropic beams subjected to concentrated loads. 2000. Study of three. Browning CEo On short beam shear tests for composite materials.26:9. Modeling of stable and unstable fracture of short-beam shear specimens. Flexural properties of unreinforced and reinforced plastics. Keystone.  ASTM standard D790. 1999. Shear strains in a graphite/PEEK beam by Moire interferometry with carrier fringes. Adams D. made by the authors and Acknowledgements Paolo would like to thank first and foremost Keith Kedward. thanks are due to Yuqiao Zhu for helping with fundamental inputs on the PEA work. co-author of the paper but in reality its real inspirer.  Kedward K. guide and friend who introduced him to the world of composites. Lewis E. Feraboli.294-300. who has successfully introduced aerospace grade carbon/epoxy prepreg materials in the highend commercial vehicle production.  Xie M. Brown J. In addition. Part A 1998. Experimental study of three. 29A.  John NSt.22:167-84.  Whitney JM. CO. Composites 1995. Composites.P. 1986. Fibre Sci Technol1972.
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