Size effect and fracture characteristics of composite laminates

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Measurements of the size effect on the nominal strength of notched specimens of fiber composite laminates are reported. Tests were conducted on graphite/epoxy crossply and quasi-isotropic laminates. The specimens were rectangular strips of widths 6.4, 12.7, 25.4 and 50.8 mm (0.25, 0.50, 1.00 and 2.00 in.) geometrically similar in two dimensions. The gage lengths were 25, 51, 102 and 203 mm (1.0, 2.0, 4.0 and 8.0 in.). One set of specimens had double-edge notches and a [0/922]s crossply layup, and another set had a single-sided edge notch and a [0/±45/90]s quasi-isotropic layup. It has been found that there is a significant size effect on the nominal strength. It approximately agrees with the size effect law proposed by Bažant, according to which the curve of the logarithm of the nominal strength versus the logarithm of size represents a smooth transition from a horizontal asymptote, corresponding to the strength criterion (plastic limit analysis), to an inclined asymptote of -0.5 slope, corresponding to linear elastic fracture mechanics. Optimum fits of the test results by the size effect law are obtained, and the size effect law parameters are then used to identify the material fracture characteristics, particularly the fracture energy and the effective length of the fracture process zone. Finally, the R-curves are also identified on the basis of the maximum load data. The results show that in design situations with notches or large initial traction-free cracks the size effect on the nominal strength of fiber composite laminates must be taken into account.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-324
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Engineering Materials and Technology, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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