Response and Damage Tolerance of Composite Sandwich Structures under Low Velocity Impact

I. M. Daniel, J. L. Abot, P. M. Schubel, J. J. Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The deformation and failure response of composite sandwich beams and panels under low velocity impact was reviewed and discussed. Sandwich facesheet materials discussed are unidirectional and woven carbon/epoxy, and woven glass/vinylester composite laminates; sandwich core materials investigated include four types of closed cell PVC foams of various densities, and balsa wood. Sandwich beams were tested in an instrumented drop tower system under various energy levels, where load and strain histories and failure modes were recorded for the various types of beams. Peak loads predicted by spring-mass and energy balance models were in satisfactory agreement with experimental measurements. Failure patterns depend strongly on the impact energy levels and core properties. Failure modes observed include core indentation/cracking, facesheet buckling, delamination within the facesheet, and debonding between the facesheet and core. In the case of sandwich panels, it was shown that static and impact loads of the same magnitude produce very similar far-field deformations. The induced damage is localized and is lower for impact loading than for an equivalent static loading. The load history, predicted by a model based on the sinusoidal shape of the impact load pulse, was in agreement with experimental results. A finite element model was implemented to capture the full response of the panel indentation. The investigation of post impact behavior of sandwich structures shows that, although impact damage may not be readily visible, its effects on the residual mechanical properties of the structure can be quite detrimental.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Mechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Damage modes
  • Damage tolerance
  • Impact behavior
  • Post-impact behavior
  • Sandwich structures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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