The evolution of a transverse intra-ply crack coupled to delamination cracks

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


In this paper nonlinear cohesive fracture models with cohesive parameters and laminar elasticity typical of polymer composites are used to study the initiation and propagation of a transverse intra-ply crack that is coupled to possible delaminations at the ply interfaces in a [0/90/0°] laminate. The evolution of the transverse crack is found to be more complex than previously described, involving initial growth, growth along the ply in a tunneling mode, and expansion across the thickness of the ply in a plane strain mode. For the coupled crack system, two failure modes are distinguished: (1) complete tunneling propagation of the transverse crack before any delamination occurs, followed by delamination initiation and propagation; and (2) simultaneous propagation of the transverse and delaminations cracks. The former process is always stable, is favored by large values of the mode II to mode I toughness ratio and low values of the cohesive strength, and is predicted to be the prevalent failure sequence for polymer composites. The latter process is often unstable, because it tends to occur when the cohesive strength is so high that the stress for initiating the transverse crack exceeds the stress required for its tunneling propagation. The nonlinear fracture models provide a unified description of the entire process of initiation and crack propagation. If the delamination cracks are modeled by linear elastic fracture mechanics, substantially inaccurate predictions result for the onset of delamination cracking and for the tunneling crack initiation from a pre-existing flaw.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-92
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Fracture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Cohesive modeling
  • Delamination
  • Nonlinear fracture
  • Polymer-matrix composites
  • Transverse cracks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modeling and Simulation


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