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The effect of R-ratio on the mode II fatigue delamination growth of unidirectional carbon/epoxy composites Gambone, Livio R.


An investigation of the effect of R-ratio on the mode II fatigue delamination of AS4/3501-6 carbon/epoxy composites has been undertaken. Experiments have been performed on end notched cantilever beam specimens over a wide range of R-ratios (-l ≤R ≤0.50). The measured delamination growth rate data have been correlated with the mode II values of strain energy release rate range ∆G[formula omitted]), maximum strain energy release rate (G[formula omitted]) and stress intensity factor range (∆K[formula omitted]). The growth rate is dependent on the R-ratio over the range tested. For a constant level of ∆G[formula omitted], the crack growth rate decreases with increasing R-ratio. A similar trend is observed when the data is plotted as a function of G[formula omitted]. The effect of plotting the growth rate as a function of ∆K[formula omitted] is to produce an R-ratio dependence opposite to that obtained by either the ∆G[formula omitted] or G[formula omitted] approach. For a constant level of ∆K[formula omitted], the crack growth rate increases with increasing R-ratio. Master equations which completely characterize the fatigue behaviour as a function of ∆G[formula omitted] and ∆K[formula omitted] have been derived, based on the observation that the growth rate law exponent, n and constant, A are unique functions of R-ratio. Values for n are surprisingly large and increase with increasing R-ratio whereas values for A decrease with increasing R-ratio. The effect of time-at-load has been considered in an attempt to explain the existence of the R-ratio dependence of the growth rate. The correct trend can be established for the exponent, n but not for the constant, A. Friction between the crack faces, particularly at higher R-ratios, is proposed as a possible explanation for the observed anomaly. Further evidence of a frictional mechanism operating at higher R-ratios has been discovered through a postmortem fracture surface examination. Additional fractographic observations are presented over the entire range of R-ratios tested. In regions subjected to negative R-ratio cycling, there is no evidence of the characteristic mode II hackle features. Instead, loose rounded particles of matrix material are found. An extensive amount of hackling is observed in regions subjected to low positive R-ratio cycles. The extent of hackle damage visibly decreases in areas where higher levels of R-ratio are imposed. A correlation between the general fracture surface morphology and the fatigue data provides support for the hypothesis that energy for delamination is always available in sufficient quantity, and that growth is dependent on the stresses ahead of the crack tip being sufficiently high.

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