Size effect on compression strength of fiber composites failing by kink band propagation

Zdeněk P. Bažant*, Jang Jay H Kim, Isaac M. Daniel, Emilie Becq-Giraudon, Goangseup Zi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


The effect of structure size on the nominal strength of unidirectional fiber-polymer composites, failing by propagation of a kink band with fiber microbuckling, is analyzed experimentally and theoretically. Tests of novel geometrically similar carbon-PEEK specimens, with notches slanted so as to lead to a pure kink band (not accompanied by shear or splitting cracks), are conducted. They confirm the possibility of stable growth of long kind bands before the peak load, and reveal the existence of a strong (deterministic, non-statistical) size effect. The bi-logarithmic plot of the nominal strength (load divided by size and thickness) versus the characteristic size agrees with the approximate size effect law proposed for quasibrittle failures in 1983 by Bazant. The plot exhibits a gradual transition from a horizontal asymptote, representing the case of no size effect (characteristic of plasticity or strength criteria), to an asymptote of slope - 1/2 (characteristic of linear elastic fracture mechanics, LEFM). A new derivation of this law by approximate (asymptotically correct) J-integral analysis of the energy release, as well as by the recently proposed nonlocal fracture mechanics, is given. The size effect law is further generalized to notch-free specimens attaining the maximum load after a stable growth of a kink band transmitting a uniform residual stress, and the generalized law is verified by Soutis, Curtis and Fleck's recent compression tests of specimens with holes of different diameters. The nominal strength of specimens failing at the initiation of a kink band from a smooth surface is predicted to also exhibit a (deterministic) size effect if there is a nonzero stress gradient at the surface. A different size effect law is derived for this case by analyzing the stress redistribution. The size effect law for notched specimens permits the fracture energy of the kink band and the length of the fracture process zone at the front of the band to be identified solely from the measurements of maximum loads. The results indicate that the current design practice, which relies on the strength criteria or plasticity and thus inevitably misses the size effect, is acceptable only for small structural parts and, in the interest of safety, should be revised in the case of large structural parts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-141
Number of pages39
JournalInternational Journal of Fracture
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 1999


  • Asymptotic analysis
  • Cohesive crack model
  • Compression
  • Equivalent LEFM
  • Fiber composites
  • Fracture
  • J-integral
  • Kink bands
  • Microbuckling
  • Scaling
  • Size effect
  • Testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanics of Materials


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