High-fidelity simulations of multiple fracture processes in a laminated composite in tension

X. J. Fang, Z. Q. Zhou, B. N. Cox, Q. D. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The augmented finite element method (A-FEM) is used to study the fundamental composite failure problem of delamination and associated damage events spreading from a stress concentrator during tensile loading. The solution exploits the ability of A-FEM to account for coupled multiple crack types that are not predetermined in shape or number. The nonlinear processes of each fracture mode are represented by a cohesive model, which provides a unified description of crack initiation and propagation and can also describe crack coalescence and bifurcation. The study problem is an orthogonal double-notched tension specimen, in which delaminations interact with transverse ply cracks, intra-ply splitting cracks, non-localized fine-scale matrix shear deformation, and fiber breaks. Cohesive laws and constitutive laws for matrix shear deformation are calibrated using literature data from independent tests. The calibrated simulations are mesh independent and correctly reproduce all qualitative aspects of the coupled damage evolution processes. They also correctly predict delamination sizes and shapes, the density of transverse ply cracks, the growth rate of splitting cracks, softening of the global stressstrain curve, and the ultimate strength. A sensitivity analysis relates variability in cohesive law parameters to predicted deviance in engineering properties. Given the known variability in cohesive law parameters, the predicted deviance in ultimate strength agrees with that in experimental data. The importance of including the interactions between different crack systems and non-localized shear deformation is demonstrated by suppressing the presence of separate mechanisms; the predicted delamination shapes, splitting crack growth rate, and the stressdisplacement relationship fall into significant error.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1355-1373
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Fiber-reinforced composite material
  • Finite elements
  • Fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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