Nonlinear fracture analysis of delamination crack jumps in laminated composites

D. S. Ling, X. J. Fang, B. N. Cox, Q. D. Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


As part of the quest to add the infraply scale to high-fidelity simulations of damage evolution in composites, a model of the phenomenon of delamination jumping across transverse plies is formulated by using nonlinear cohesive fracture models in the augmented finite element method (A-FEM). The nonlinearity of the fracture process zone and the interaction between multiple cracks combines to determine the details of how the delamination jump occurs. Simulations reveal that the jumping process starts with the triggering of a sequence of kinking cracks branching from the propagating delamination crack into the transverse plies. The first few kinking cracks arrest within the transverse plies just above the further interface because of the crack-retarding effects of the nonlinear process zone and the effects of material heterogeneity. Eventually, one kinking crack reaches the interface and initiates a new delamination crack, a step that is accompanied by a significant load spike. The competition between delamination and kinking cracks shows global-local coupling: kinking cracks are triggered when the local stress satisfies a critical condition, but a kinking crack does not reach the second interface and initiate the new delamination crack until the global energy release rate reaches the kinking crack toughness. This suggests that the jumping process is controlled more by deterministic load and geometrical factors than by stochastic flaw populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Aerospace Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • A-FEM
  • Composite materials
  • Composites
  • Crack-tip rotation
  • Cracking
  • Delamination
  • Finite element method
  • Kinking
  • Laminated materials
  • Rotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)


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