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Serge Abrate

Department of Technology, College of Engineering, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901-6603, USA

Abstract

Impacts of foreign objects on composite structures can create internal damage that reduces the strength of the structure sig-

ni®cantly. The study of such impacts requires understanding the dynamics of the event, predicting the extent of the induced damage,

and estimating the residual properties of the structure. The impact event involves the motion of the target, the motion of the

projectile, and the local indentation in the contact zone. A large number of parameters aect the impact dynamics, many types of

responses can be obtained, and many models have been proposed in the literature. These models can be classi®ed into three cat-

egories: (1) energy-balance models that assume a quasi-static behavior of the structure; (2) spring-mass models that account for the

dynamics of the structure in a simpli®ed manner; (3) complete models in which the dynamic behavior of the structure is fully

modeled. Simple models can bring insight into the problem and be ecient but have limited applicability. Complex models may have

wider applicability but require signi®cantly higher modeling and computational eort. There is a need for a general understanding of

the impact dynamics and for a method for developing ecient and accurate models. Ó 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights

reserved.

Keywords: Impact dynamics; Models; Laminated composite materials

1. Introduction

Laminated composite materials are used extensively,

but their behavior under impact is of concern since

damage which can be introduced reduces the strength of

the structure signi®cantly. Comprehensive literature re-

views on the eect of impact on composite materials

were presented by Abrate [1±4]. The large number of

papers published is an evidence of the interest generated

by this topic and the high level of research activity. Most

of the work reported is concerned with low-velocity

impact and both the damage resistance and damage

tolerance aspects of it.

A ®rst step towards understanding the eect of im-

pacts is to develop a model for predicting the contact

force history and the overall response of the structure. It

involves modeling the motion of the projectile, the dy-

namics of the structure, and the local indentation of the

structure by the projectile. Experimental modal analysis

[5] showed that low velocity impact damage has only

minor eects on the dynamic properties of laminated

plates. Small shifts in the natural frequencies of higher-

order bending modes are observed which con®rms that

damage needs not modeled in the impact dynamics

analysis. Some impacts produce deformations in a small

zone surrounding the point of impact while others in-

volve deformations of the entire structure. In some

cases, a major portion of the impact energy is trans-

ferred to the plate and in other cases most the energy is

restituted to the projectile. For some problems, the in-

dentation absorbs a signi®cant portion of the impact

energy so that it must be modeled adequately in the

analysis. In other cases, the eect of indentation are

negligible. Sorting out these dierent types of behavior is

necessary for the interpretation of experimental results

and for the selection of an appropriate mathematical

model.

The objectives of this article are to study the various

models available for analyzing the impact dynamics and

to present an approach for selecting an appropriate

model for each particular case. The many models used

to study the impact dynamics are classi®ed here ac-

cording to how the structure is modeled: spring-mass

models, energy balance models, complete models, and a

model for impact on in®nite plates. Simpli®ed models of

the overall deformation of the structure lead to simple

more ecient models for the impact dynamics analysis

and provide insights into the impact response. Section 2

discusses the mechanics of contact between a smooth

indentor and a composite material. An energy-balance

model is used in Section 3 to analyze impacts on a half

www.elsevier.com/locate/compstruct

Composite Structures 51 (2001) 129±138

E-mail address: abrate@engr.siu.edu (S. Abrate).

0263-8223/01/$ - see front matter Ó 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

PII: S 0 2 6 3 - 8 2 2 3 ( 0 0 ) 0 0 1 3 8 - 0

place and in Section 4, a method for analyzing impacts

on in®nite plates is recalled. Spring-mass models and

complete models are discussed in Sections 5 and 6. Ex-

amples are presented in Section 7 and a discussion of the

procedure followed for selecting an appropriate model is

presented in Section 8.

2. Contact mechanics

Local deformations in the contact zone are not

modeled with beam, plate or shell theories since those

theories usually assume that the structure is inextensible

in the transverse direction. However, in many cases,

local indentation has a signi®cant eect on the contact

force history and must be accounted for in the analysis.

The contact phenomenon is recognized as being rate

independent for most laminated composite materials

and statically determined contact laws are used by most

investigators. During the loading phase of the impact,

the contact force P is related to the indentation a by

P = ka

3=2

: (1)

The contact stiness is given by

k =

4

3

ER

1=2

; (2)

where the parameters R and E are de®ned as

1

R

=

1

R

1

÷

1

R

2

and

1

E

=

1 ÷ m

2

1

E

1

÷

1 ÷ m

2

2

E

2

; (3)

where R

1

and R

2

are the radii of curvature of the two

bodies. The Young's moduli and Poisson's ratios of the

two bodies are E

1

; m

1

and E

2

; m

2

, respectively. Subscripts

1 denotes properties of the indentor, while subscript 2

identi®es properties of the target. Eq. (1) is usually re-

ferred to as the Hertzian law of contact.

Permanent indentation occur even at relatively low

loading levels, and the unloading phase of the process is

signi®cantly dierent from the loading phase. During

unloading, the contact law is

P = P

m

(a [ ÷ a

0

)=(a

m

÷ a

0

)[

2:5

; (4)

where P

m

is the maximum force reached before un-

loading, a

m

the maximum indentation, and a

0

is the

permanent indentation. a

0

is zero when the maximum

indentation remains below a critical value a

cr

. When

a

m

> a

cr

,

a

0

= a

m

1

_

÷ (a

cr

=a

m

)

2=5

_

: (5)

During subsequent reloading, the reloading curve is

distinct from the unloading curve but always returns to

the point where unloading began [6]. The unloading

curve is modelled by

P = P

m

[(a ÷ a

0

)=(a

m

÷ a

0

)[

3=2

: (6)

In some cases, only a small fraction of the impact energy

is used in the local indentation process and therefore it is

not necessary to distinguish between loading and un-

loading branches, and Eq. (1) is used throughout the

indentation process. Sometimes the indentation process

need not be modeled at all.

3. Energy-balance models

One approach for analyzing the impact dynamics is

to consider the balance of energy in the system. The

initial kinetic energy of the projectile is used to deform

the structure during impact. Assuming that the structure

behaves quasi-statically, when the structure reaches its

maximum de¯ection, the velocity of the projectile be-

comes zero and all the initial kinetic energy has been

used to deform the structure. Therefore, the energy-

balance equation can be written as

1

2

MV

2

= E

b

÷ E

s

÷ E

m

÷ E

c

; (7)

where the subscripts b, s, m refer to the bending, shear,

and membrane components of the overall structural

deformation and E

c

is the energy stored in the contact

region during indentation.

When the overall de¯ections of the structure are

negligible compared to the local indentation, the prob-

lem is reduced to that of an impact on a half-space and

the maximum contact force, and the contact duration

are given by

P =

5

4

_ _

3=5

M

3

V

6

k

2

_ ¸

1=5

; (8a)

T

c

= 3:2145

M

2

Vk

2

_ _

1=5

: (8b)

These simple expressions show the eect of the projectile

mass and velocity and the contact stiness on the con-

tact force.

4. Impacts on in®nite composite plates

Olsson [7] presented an approximate solution for

impacts on in®nite plates. With an Hertzian contact law

(Eq. (1)), non-dimensional indentation and time vari-

ables can be de®ned as

a =

a

TV

; t =

t

T

; (9)

where

T = M kV

1=2

_ _ _ _ ¸

2=5

: (10)

130 S. Abrate / Composite Structures 51 (2001) 129±138

The non-dimensional indentation is governed by the

single, nonlinear, ordinary dierential equation

d

2

a

dt

2

÷ k

3

2

a

1=2

da

dt

÷ a

3=2

= 0; (11)

which depends on a single non-dimensional parameter

k = k

2=5

c

V

1=5

M

3=5

= 8

mD

+

_

_ _

(12)

called the inelasticity parameter. The equivalent bending

rigidity in Eq. (12) is de®ned as

D

+

=

A ÷ 1

2

(D

11

D

22

)

1=2

;

A = (D

12

÷ 2D

66

)=(D

11

D

22

)

1=2

:

(13)

Eq. (11), with the initial conditions

a(0) = 0;

da(0)

dt

= 1 (14)

must be solved numerically. The contact force is given

by

P = k

2

M

3

V

6

_ ¸

1=5

a

3=2

: (15)

After contact ceases, the de¯ection at the point of im-

pact remains constant while the deformation propagates

outward. During an impact on an in®nite plate, the

wavefront is nearly elliptical. The distance a between the

wavefront and the impact point in the x-direction, can

be estimated using

a = 2

p

_ D

11

m

_ _

1=4

[2(A ÷ 1)[

1=8

t

_

: (16)

In the y-direction, the wavefront is approximately lo-

cated at a distance

b = a=(D

11

=D

22

)

1=4

: (17)

Eqs. (16) and (17) provide an estimate of the size of the

deformed zone during impact.

In [4], this model has been extended for other contact

laws and it was shown that for a linear contact law, Eq.

(11) becomes identical to the equation of motion of a

single-degree-of-freedom system with viscous damping.

In that case, the non-dimensional parameter is analo-

gous to the damping coecient and the physical inter-

pretation is that the deformation of the plate dissipates

some of the impact energy.

5. Spring-mass models

5.1. General case

Spring-mass models are simple and provide accurate

solutions for some types of impacts often encountered

during tests on small size specimens. The most complete

model (Fig. 1) consists of one spring representing the

linear stiness of the structure (K

bs

), another spring K

m

for the nonlinear membrane stiness, a mass M

2

repre-

senting the eective mass of the structure, the nonlinear

contact stiness, and M

1

the mass of the projectile. If the

eect of shear deformation is negligible, the spring

constant K

bs

is replaced by K

b

which account for bend-

ing deformations only. From the free body diagrams of

the two masses M

1

and M

2

, the equations of motion of

the system can be written as

M

1

x

1

÷ P = 0; (18a)

M

2

x

2

÷ K

bs

x

2

÷ K

m

x

3

2

÷ P = 0; (18b)

where P is the contact force which is a highly nonlinear

function of the indentation x

1

÷ x

2

.

The dynamics of the system described by Eqs. (15)

and (16) and the initial conditions

_ x

1

(0) = V ; _ x

2

(0) = 0; x

1

(0) = x

2

(0) = 0 (19)

can be studied numerically.

The stiness used in the spring-mass models can be

determined from formulas available in many handbooks

or, numerically, using the ®nite element method for ex-

ample [8]. For a completely clamped, isotropic, circular

plate, the bending and membrane stinesses are given by

K

b

=

4pEh

3

3(1 ÷ m

2

)a

2

; (20)

K

m

=

(353 ÷ 191m)pEh

648(1 ÷ m)a

2

; (21)

where E is the elastic modulus, m the Poisson's ratio, h

the thickness, and a is the radius of the plate. The ef-

fective mass of the plate is taken as one-fourth of the

total mass of the plate [9].

5.2. Linear two-degree-of-freedom model

In many cases, the transverse de¯ections are small

and membrane-stiening eects are negligible and the

Fig. 1. (a) Two-degree-of-freedom model. (b) Single-degree-of-free-

dom model.

S. Abrate / Composite Structures 51 (2001) 129±138 131

stiness of the structure can be represented by the linear

spring k

2

. In order to understand the dynamics of the

impact, we also assume that the local indentation can be

represented by a linear spring k

1

(see Fig. 2). The motion

of the linear two-degree-of-freedom system is governed

by

m

1

x

1

÷ k

1

x

1

( ÷ x

2

) = 0;

m

2

x

2

÷ k

2

x

2

÷ k

1

x

2

( ÷ x

1

) = 0

(22)

with the initial conditions

x

1

(0) = x

2

(0) = 0; _ x

1

(0) = V ; _ x

2

(0) = 0: (23)

Introducing the non-dimensional variables

s = t

k

1

m

1

_

and y

i

= x

i

k

1

=m

1

_

V

: (24)

Eqs. (22) can be written as

y

//

1

÷ y

1

÷ y

2

= 0;

y

//

2

÷

m

1

m

2

y

1

÷

m

1

m

2

1

_

÷

k

2

k

1

_

y

2

= 0;

(25)

and the initial conditions become

y

1

(0) = y

2

(0) = 0; y

/

1

(0) = 1; y

/

2

(0) = 0: (26)

The behavior of the system depends on the two non-

dimensional parameters m

1

=m

2

and k

2

=k

1

.

The non-dimensional natural frequencies of the

system are obtained by solving the bi-quadratic equa-

tion

x

4

÷ x

2

1

_

÷

m

1

m

2

1

_

÷

k

2

k

1

__

÷

m

1

m

2

k

2

k

1

= 0: (27)

The natural frequencies can be approximated as indi-

cated in Table 1 in which we distinguish four special

cases. Fig. 3(a) shows that as k

2

=k

1

becomes large, the

®rst natural frequency tends to the limiting value of one.

The convergence rate is strongly aected by the mass

ratio when m

1

=m

2

¸ 1. When k

2

=k

1

is larger than one,

the second non-dimensional frequency increases with

k

2

=k

1

_

and the validity of the approximations given in

Table 1 is shown in Fig. 3(b). Fig. 3(c) shows a ``curve

veering'' phenomenon for the two natural frequencies as

m

1

=m

2

increases for a ®xed k

2

=k

1

ratio.

For case I ((m

1

=m

2

) ¸ l; (k

2

=k

1

) ¸ 1), the natural

frequencies are approximated by

x

1

=

k

2

m

2

_

; x

2

=

k

1

m

1

_

(28)

and the free vibration modes are as shown in Fig. 4(a).

With mode I, the two masses move together but m

1

is

negligible compared to m

2

. For mode II, the heavy mass

remains stationary and oscillates as a single-degree-of-

freedom system with stiness k

1

.

For case II ((m

1

=m

2

) ¸ 1; (k

2

=k

1

) ¸ 1), the mass of

the target is small compared to the mass of the impactor

and the stiness of the target is small compared to the

contact stiness and the natural frequencies are ap-

proximated by

x

1

=

k

2

m

1

_

; x

2

=

k

1

m

2

_

: (29)

In mode I, the indentation is negligible and the projectile

and the target form a SDOF system (Fig. 4(b)). In

Model II, the projectile remains stationary, the stiness

of the target is negligible, and the target oscillates as a

SDOF system.

For case III ((k

2

=k

1

) ¸ 1; (m

1

=m

2

) ¸ 1), the stiness

of the target is much larger than the contact stiness, the

mass of the projectile is small compared to that of the

target. Then

x

1

=

k

2

m

2

_

; x

2

=

k

1

m

1

_

: (30)

The mode shapes are shown in Fig. 4(c). For case IV

((k

2

=k

1

) ¸ 1; (m

1

)=(m

2

) ¸ 1), the stiness of the target

is much larger than the contact stiness and

Fig. 2. Linear two-degree-of-freedom spring-mass impact model.

Table 1

Approximate formulas for natural frequencies of two-degree-of-free-

dom system

k

2

k

1

¸ 1

k

2

k

1

¸ 1

Case I Case III

m

1

m

2

¸ 1

x

1

=

m

1

k

2

m

2

k

1

_

x

1

=

m

1

k

2

m

2

k

1

_

x

2

=

1 ÷

m

1

m

2

_

x

2

= 1

Case II Case IV

m

1

m

2

¸ 1

x

1

=

k

2

k

1

_

x

1

= 1

x

2

=

1 ÷

m

1

m

2

_

x

2

=

m

1

k

2

m

2

k

1

_

132 S. Abrate / Composite Structures 51 (2001) 129±138

x

1

=

k

1

m

1

_

; x

2

=

k

2

m

2

_

: (31)

For Mode I, the target remains stationary and the

projectile oscillates (Fig. 4(d)). For mode II, the motion

of the plate is unaected by the presence of the projectile

Fig. 3. Free vibrations of two-degree-of-freedom system: (a) ®rst non-dimensional frequency; (b) second non-dimensional frequency (solid line:

exact; dashed line: approximate); (c) Curve veering phenomenon for k

2

=k

1

= 10 (solid line: exact; dashed line: approximate).

Fig. 4. Approximate mode shapes of linear two-degree-of-freedom system.

S. Abrate / Composite Structures 51 (2001) 129±138 133

due to the weak coupling provided by the contact

stiness.

5.3. Linear single-degree-of-freedom (SDOF) spring-

mass model

A signi®cant simpli®cation occurs when membrane-

stiening eects are negligible and the indentation is

small compared with the overall deformation of the

structure. In that case, a linear SDOF system (Fig. 1(b))

can be used and the contact force is then given by

P = V

K

bs

M

_

sin

K

bs

=M

_

t

_ _

: (32)

Eq. (32) predicts that the maximum contact force is di-

rectly proportional to the initial velocity of the projec-

tile. Similarly, the maximum contact force is

proportional to the square root of the kinetic energy.

The contact force increases with the square root of the

stiness of the structure and the square root of the mass

of the impactor. A stier structure will cause a harder

impact and, for the same initial velocity, a larger mass

will have a larger kinetic energy which will also increase

the contact force.

5.4. Nonlinear SDOF spring-mass models

There are two situations for which a nonlinear SDOF

can provide accurate predictions of the contact force

history. In the ®rst instance, the overall de¯ection of the

structure is negligible compared to the local indentation.

In that case, the spring in Fig. 1(b) represents the con-

tact stiness, and the equation of motion is

M

1

x

1

÷ kx

3=2

1

= 0: (33)

The second situation for which nonlinear a SDOF

model can yield accurate predictions of the contact force

history is when the local indentation is negligible but the

de¯ections of the structure becomes large and mem-

brane stiening is signi®cant. The equation of motion of

the single-degree-of-freedom model is

Mx ÷ k

b

x ÷ k

m

x

3

= 0: (34)

A numerical solution of these nonlinear equations of

motion (Eqs. (33) and (34)) yields the dynamic response

and contact force histories.

6. Complete models

With a complete model, the dynamic behavior of the

structure is described accurately. This means that the

appropriate structural theory is used. For example, in

many cases the classical plate theory can be used but, in

some cases, transverse shear deformations become sig-

ni®cant and higher-order theories must be used. If the

initial velocity of the projectile is suciently large,

damage can be introduced plate motion is established.

In that case, a three-dimensional analysis is required.

Once an appropriate theory is selected, all the vibration

modes participating in the response have to be predicted

accurately and must be retained in the model. For a

simply supported plate, for example, an analytical so-

lution can be found for the natural frequencies and

mode shapes. The transient response is then expressed in

terms of these mode shapes and all participating modes

can be included. For other geometries or boundary

conditions, variational or ®nite element models must be

used. With such approximate methods, a suciently

large number of degrees of freedom must be selected so

that the participating modes are predicted accurately.

If N equations are needed to describe the motion of

the structure and one equation for the projectile, the

N ÷ 1 dierential equations can be written in matrix

form as

[M[¦

X¦ ÷ [K[¦X¦ = ¦F ¦ (35)

and integrated using Newmark's step-by-step time in-

tegration method. The contact force is unknown and is a

nonlinear function of the indentation. Therefore, the

force vector in Eq. (35) is assumed to be known at the

end to the nth time step but its value at the end of step

n ÷ 1 is unknown. In order to determine the displace-

ments at the end of step n ÷ 1, we start assuming that

¦P¦

n÷1

= ¦P¦

n

and solve equation (35) for a ®rst esti-

mate of ¦X¦

n÷1

. A new estimate of ¦P¦

n÷1

can be cal-

culated from these displacements and a new iteration

can be performed. After several iterations, the solution

converges so that both the equations of motion and the

contact law are satis®ed and the process is repeated for

the following time steps.

7. Examples

7.1. Wave controlled impacts

Qian and Swanson [10] studied the impact of a steel

sphere on graphite±epoxy laminates with the following

material properties:

E

1

= 120 GPa; E

2

= 7:9 GPa; G

12

= 5:5 GPa;

m

12

= 0:30; q = 1580 kg=m

3

:

The diameter of the impactor is 12.7 mm, its mass is

8.537 g, and the initial velocity is 3.0 m/s. The Hertzian

contact stiness is k = 8:394 × 10

8

N=m

3=2

. The plates

studied where simply supported and had a size of 200 ×

200 mm. Three plates with a [0; 90; 0; 90; 0[

S

layup were

considered. Plate A had a total thickness of 2.69 mm

(0.269 mm/layer), plate B is 5.38 mm thick (0.538 mm/

layer), and plate C is 10.76 mm thick (1.076 mm/layer).

134 S. Abrate / Composite Structures 51 (2001) 129±138

The inelasticity parameter k is equal to 2.055, 0.5139,

and 0.1285 for plates A, B, and C, respectively. There-

fore, dierent behaviors are expected for these three

plates with identical layups but dierent thicknesses.

For plate A, the numerical solution to Eq. (11) gives

the contact force history shown in Fig. 5 with a maxi-

mum force of 285.4 N and a contact duration of

257:4 ls. The compressive wave that propagates

through the thickness of the laminate in the early stages

of the impact has a velocity

c =

E

2

=q

_

: (36)

Here c = 2236 m/s, so it takes just 1:2 ls for the wave to

travel through the thickness of the laminate. Therefore

multiple re¯ections occur and the bending motion is

established. Since k = 2:055, the contact force history is

asymmetric with the maximum occurring 37:7 ls after

the start of the impact event. After 257:4 ls, the size of

the deformed zone predicted by Eq. (16) is a = 150 mm

which means that the disturbance initiated by the impact

at the center of the plate would travel 150 mm in the x-

direction and similarly 150 mm in the ÷x-direction in an

in®nite plate. For a 200 × 200 mm plate, the disturbance

reaches the boundary and is re¯ected back, but does not

have sucient time to travel back to the point of impact.

Therefore, the in®nite plate model is still valid and the

maximum contact force of 286.8 N predicted by Qian

and Swanson [10] is identical to that predicted here. This

model is based on the classical plate theory while [10]

used the ®rst order shear deformation theory. Because

the size of the deformed zone is large compared to the

thickness of the plate, the eect of shear deformation is

negligible.

For plate B, the contact force history predicted by the

impact on in®nite plate model is also shown in Fig. 5.

The maximum force predicted is 591.7 N and the con-

tact duration is 116:5 ls. The length of the semi-axis of

the elliptical deformed zone is a = 143 mm if the plate is

in®nite so in this case again the impact can be consid-

ered to be in®nite and the eect of shear deformation is

negligible. The central de¯ection at the end of the con-

tact duration is 0.02371 mm which is very small and

geometric nonlinearities are negligible. The maximum

contact force predicted in [10] is 562.8 N in good

agreement with the present analysis. The maximum in-

dentation is 0.07921 mm and the plate de¯ection cannot

be neglected.

For plate C, the contact force history predicted by the

impact on in®nite plate model (Fig. 5) gives a maximum

of 802.7 N and a contact duration of 105:5 ls. Eq. (16)

gives a = 192 mm and therefore, waves are close to be

re¯ected back to the impact point but shear deforma-

tions and membrane stiening are still negligible. The

maximum indentation is 9:706 × 10

÷2

mm, while the

maximum central plate de¯ection is 7:489 × 10

÷3

mm.

As plate de¯ections become small, the problem tends to

that of an impact on a half-space. If plate de¯ections are

neglected, the energy balance approach predicts a

maximum contact force of 910 N and a contact duration

of 103:4 ls. While the plate de¯ection is small, relative

to the indentation in this case, the maximum contact

force cannot be accurately predicted when plate de¯ec-

tions are neglected. For plate C, [10] gives a maximum

contact force of 759.3 N which again agrees well with

the prediction from the impact on in®nite plate model.

7.2. Boundary controlled impacts

Choi and Hong [8] studied impact on [0; 90[

4S

graphite±epoxy laminates with the following material

properties:

E

1

= 135:4 GPa; E

2

= 9:6 GPa;

m

12

= 0:31 GPa; G

12

= 4:8 GPa; q = 1580 kg=m

3

;

with a ply thickness of 0.1125 mm. The size of the plate

is 100 × 100 mm and the four edges are fully clamped.

The radius of the steel impactor is 6 mm and its modulus

of elasticity and Poisson's ratio are E = 207 GPa and

m = 0:3. The mass of the plate is m

P

= 28:5 g and the

mass of the impactor M is varied so that n = M=m

P

= 1;

3:5; 10, and 35.

In this case, the inelasticity parameter k = 10:39 when

the mass ratio is equal to one and k = 87:72 when the

mass ratio is equal to 35. Therefore, for all the cases

considered in [8], the impact event is dominated by the

deformation of the plate. For k = 10:39, the impact on

in®nite plate model predicts a contact duration of 5.03

ms. During that predicted contact duration, the wave-

front emanating for the impact point at the center of the

plate would travel 546 mm in the x-direction if the plate

were of in®nite extent. In this ®nite size plate, waves

reach the boundary and are re¯ected back and forth

Fig. 5. Example 1: Contact force histories for impacts on plates A, B,

C.

S. Abrate / Composite Structures 51 (2001) 129±138 135

several times during the predicted contact duration.

Therefore, this is a boundary-controlled impact and

spring-mass model with successfully predict the contact

force history. A single-degree-of-freedom spring-mass

model with a spring constant calculated assuming that

the plate is circular and has a radius of 50 mm, so that

Eq. (20) can be used. The results shown in Fig. 6 are in

excellent agreement with the ®nite element results in [8].

For an impact velocity of 2.76 m/s and a mass ratio of

35, the maximum de¯ection of the plate predicted by the

spring mass model is 4.29 mm, more than twice the

thickness of the plate. A rule of thumb is that, when

de¯ections become larger that the thickness of a plate,

geometrical nonlinearities play an important role.

Modeling the plate as a clamped circular plate again, the

membrane stiness can be estimated using Eq. (21) and

the motion of the single-degree-of-freedom model is

governed by Eq. (34). The nonlinear eect due to

membrane stiening cause a signi®cant reduction of the

contact duration and a substantial increase in the max-

imum contact force (Fig. 7).

The energy-balance approach predicts a maximum

contact force of 1773 N when only plate bending is

considered (K

m

= 0; E

c

= 0) which is the same value

predicted by the linear spring-mass model. Including the

eect of indentation, the maximum contact force drops

to 1748 N. Considering bending and membrane defor-

mations but neglecting, E

c

, the energy balance approach

yields a maximum contact force of 3315 N which is

nearly identical to that obtained using the nonlinear

spring-mass model. When bending, membrane and

contact deformations are considered together, the

maximum contact force drops to 3127 N. The eect of

indentation is much larger when geometric nonlinear

behavior of the plate is considered. Since, for this plate,

the side length to thickness ratio is 56, shear deforma-

tion eects are negligible.

7.3. Impact on aluminum plate

The example studied by Shivakumar et al. [9] deals

with the impact of a 19-mm radius steel sphere on a

3.2-mm thick, aluminum, circular plate of 38-mm

radius. For steel, the modulus of electricity E, Poisson's

ratio m, and density q are taken as E = 199:95 GPa,

m = 0:33; q = 7971:8 kg=m

3

. For aluminum, E = 68:95

GPa, m = 0:33; q = 2768 kg=m

3

, and the shear modulus

G = 25:92 GPa. The initial velocity of the projectile is

2.54 m/s, the indentation is assumed to follow Hertz

contact law, and the impact occurs in the center of the

plate.

In this case, k = 14:70 which implies that most of the

energy is used in the deformation of the plate. A nu-

merical solution of Eq. (11) gives a contact duration of

the impact on an in®nite plate of 8.69 ms. During the

duration for impact, Eq. (16) predicts that the radius of

the deformed zone in an in®nite plate is 27.47 m, many

times the radius of the ®nite size plate considered here.

Therefore, the deformation of the plate is expected to be

quasi-static. The bending rigidity of the clamped circular

plate is calculated using Eq. (20). Neglecting shear de-

formation and membrane stiening, the energy balance

approach gives a maximum contact force P = 3167 N.

Only 7.7% of the initial kinetic energy of the projectile is

used in the indentation process. The bulk of the initial

impact energy is used for the quasi-static bending of the

target. Using a linear, single-degree-of-freedom spring-

mass model, the maximum contact force is 3296 N and

the contact duration 5.54 ms. This provides a good

approximation to the contact force history even though

it does not capture the small oscillations predicted by a

complete model using a ®nite element discretization of

the plate [11].

Refs. [9,11] indicate that, as the thickness of the plate

increases past 15 mm, the contact duration decreases

Fig. 6. Example 2: Contact force histories for impacts on a [0; 90[

4S

graphite±epoxy plate as a function of the mass ratio.

Fig. 7. Example 2: Eect of membrane stiening on contact force

history (solid line: linear, dashed line: nonlinear).

136 S. Abrate / Composite Structures 51 (2001) 129±138

and tends to a limit. The maximum contact force pre-

dicted by the energy balance approach increases with the

plate thickness and reaches a limit (Fig. 8). As the

thickness becomes large, plate de¯ections become neg-

ligible and we have essentially an impact on a half-space.

The inelasticity parameter k is inversely proportional

to the square of the thickness h and for h = 6 mm;

k = 4:18. The energy balance approach predicts a

maximum contact force of 7109 N, a maximum dis-

placement of the projectile of 0.2232 mm a maximum

plate de¯ection of 0.1465 mm and that plate bending

absorbs 70.5% of the impact energy. The two-degree-of-

freedom spring-mass model con®rms these predictions

but also reveals the presence of oscillations in the mo-

tion of the plate (Fig. 9). These oscillations are re¯ected

in the contact force history (Fig. 10) If the mass of the

plate is neglected (M

2

= 0), the two-degree-of-freedom

model predicts a smooth contact force history. A single-

degree-of-freedom spring mass model can be used to

predict the contact force history in this case. The

equivalent spring constant is determined by dividing the

maximum contact force by the maximum displacement

of the projectile predicted by the energy balance ap-

proach. The contact force history predicted by Eq. (22)

is in excellent agreement with that obtained from the

two degree of freedom model.

When h =15 mm, k =0.6690 and the indentation

process is expected to absorb a major portion of the

kinetic energy of the projectile. The energy balance

model predicts a maximum contact force of 13,320 N

and that 84% of the initial kinetic energy of the pro-

jectile is used in the indentation process. The maximum

de¯ection of the plate is small compared to the maxi-

mum indentation. The two degree of freedom spring±

mass model will provide accurate prediction of the

contact force history in this case.

The limit case is when the de¯ection of the plate is

negligible and then, the energy balance approach (Eqs.

8) predict a maximum contact force of 14,777 N and a

contact duration of 0.148 ms respectively, in good

agreement with the results given in [9,11].

8. Selection of an impact dynamics model

The selection of an appropriate impact dynamics

model starts by neglecting the de¯ections of the plate

and using the energy±balance model (Eqs. 8) to obtain a

®rst estimate of the maximum contact force and of the

contact duration. The in®nite plate model is used to

Fig. 8. Example 3: Impact of a steel sphere on an aluminum plate:

maximum contact force as a function of plate thickness.

Fig. 9. Impact of a steel sphere on a 6-mm thick aluminum plate (solid

line: projectile displacement, dashed line: plate de¯ection).

Fig. 10. Impact of a steel sphere on a 6-mm thick aluminum plate:

contact force history (solid line: two-degree-of-freedom model, dashed

line: two-degree-of-freedom with M

2

= 0, dotted line: single degree of

freedom model).

S. Abrate / Composite Structures 51 (2001) 129±138 137

determine the eect of plate de¯ections and the type of

response of the target. The inelasticity parameter k de-

termines how much of the impact energy is absorbed by

the deformation of the plate. When k ¸ 1, the defor-

mation of the plate is negligible and the energy balance

approach is satisfactory. Otherwise, the dynamics of the

plate play an important role. If the deformation front

has not reached the boundary of the plate, the in®nite

plate model is a very ecient and accurate way of an-

alyzing the impact. When the deformation front prop-

agates many times more than the distance from the

impact point to the boundary, the ®nite size of the target

must be accounted for.

In the examples discussed here as well as in many

examples in the literature, the contact deformation is

modeled using Hertz's law for both loading and

unloading. However, contact laws have been investi-

gated at length and some authors account for dierent

behavior in the unloading and reloading phases (Eqs.

4, 6). When k is small, when the contact force reaches

its maximum, most of the energy is used to indent the

target so that energy losses due to indentation can be

signi®cant. Therefore, when k is large, the indentation

uses only a small fraction of the impact energy so that

it is not necessary to model the contact behavior

carefully.

9. Conclusions

This article presents an overview of mathematical

models used for the analysis of the dynamics of impacts

between a foreign object and a composite structure.

Currently available models are classi®ed into four cat-

egories: spring±mass models, energy±balance models,

complete models, and an impact on in®nite plate model.

Simple models are easy to use and ecient but have

limitations due to the simplifying assumptions on which

they are based. Selecting an appropriate model requires

on understanding of the eects the many factors aect-

ing the impact dynamics. In this paper, a procedure is

presented in order to determine the type of impact to be

expected and to select an appropriate model. The pro-

cess starts by assuming that the plate is in®nite. In this

case, a simple approximate solution requiring to solve a

single nonlinear ordinary dierential equation is avail-

able. This model predicts the contact force history and

the overall deformation of the plate. Then we can de-

termine whether the deformation reached the plate

boundaries during the duration of the impact. If bend-

ing waves travel from the impact point to the edge of the

plate and back many times during the predicted contact

duration, we have a boundary controlled impact and a

spring mass model or an energy balance approach might

be adequate because in that case, the plate behaves in a

quasi-static manner. If the deformation never reaches

the edges of the plate, we have a wave-controlled impact

and the approximate solution provides very good re-

sults. For intermediate cases, the in®nite plate model

might be adequate initially but re¯ected waves will aect

the contact force history. Then, a complete model taking

into account the full dynamic behavior of the plate and

the boundary conditions will be necessary. Examples

demonstrating this procedure also show that in many

cases a simple model can provide accurate predictions of

the contact force history.

References

[1] Abrate S. Impact of composite laminates. Appl Mech Rev

1991;44(4):155±90.

[2] Abrate S. Impact of laminated composites: recent advances. Appl

Mech Rev 1994;47(11):517±44.

[3] Abrate S. Localized impact on sandwich structures with laminated

facings. Appl Mech Rev 50(2):69±82.

[4] Abrate S. Impact on composite structures. Cambridge: Cam-

bridge University Press; 1998.

[5] Tracy JJ, Dimas, DJ, Pardoen GC. The eect of impact damage

on the dynamic properties of laminated composite plates. In:

Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Composite

Materials, ICCM-V, 29 July±1 August; 1985. San Diego, CA;

1985. p. 111±25.

[6] Yang SH, Sun CT. Indentation law for composite laminates.

ASTM STP 1982;787:425±49.

[7] Choi IH, Hong CS. New approach for simple prediction of impact

force history on composite laminates. AIAA J 1994;32(10):2067±

72.

[8] Shivakumar KN, Elber W, Illg W. Prediction of Impact force and

duration due to low-velocity Impact on circular composite

laminates. J. Appl Mech 1985;52:674±80.

[9] Olsson R. Impact response of orthotropic composite plates

predicted from a one-parameter dierential equation. AIAA J

1992;30(6):1587±96.

[10] Qian Y, Swanson SR. A comparison of solution techniques for

impact response of composite plates. Comput Struct 1990;14:

177±92.

[11] Wang CY, Yew CH. Impact damage in composite laminates.

Comput Struct 1990;37(6):967±82.

138 S. Abrate / Composite Structures 51 (2001) 129±138

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