Delamination Analysis of A Class of AP-PLY Composite Laminates

Weiling Zheng

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

184 Downloads (Pure)


A recently developed fiber placement architecture, AP-PLY, has been shown to give significantly improved damage tolerance characteristics of composite structures. The behavior of delaminations resulting from low speed impact damage is of particular concern. Major attention has been paid to expand current knowledge on the delamination response of simple AP-PLY composite structure and move towards in-depth understanding of the failure mechanisms behind the damage tolerance. This thesis presents the approaches to predict delamination onset and analyze delamination growth, in support of the search of the optimum woven pattern for AP-PLY composite laminates. The recovered interlaminar stress between layers combined with the maximum stress criterion determined the delamination onset of simple AP-PLY composite laminate under out-of-plane loads. 2D finite element models with cohesive elements inserted in the interfaces of woven layers have been built to evaluate the delamination initiation and propagation in the different woven patterns of simple AP-PLY composite beams. The parameters of the woven pattern, such as the woven angle, the number of woven plies, the number of straight filled plies, and the location of the woven patterns in through the thickness direction, were investigated and shown to have a significant effect on delamination creation and growth. An energy method based on beam theory was proposed to analyze the strain energy release rate (SERR) of an existing crack in an AP-PLY beam structure. The developed analytical method was implemented in isotropic materials and the obtained SERR of a crack was validated by reference results and finite element solutions. The general behavior of crack growth on the left or right crack tip was evaluated and basic trends leading to crack propagation on one side of the crack were established. A correction factor was introduced to improve the accuracy of the SERR of a small crack through the numerical calculation. The singularity of crack tip caused by dissimilar materials was investigated and was found that the inclusion of the singularity effect could increase the accuracy for small cracks. It has been shown that the neutral axis needs to be relocated to decouple the bending and membrane behavior of unsymmetrical composite laminates, thus to meet the requirement of minimizing the strain energy of the delaminated beam to calculate the SERR of a delaminated composite beam. The calculated SERR of a crack in a composite beam has been verified by comparing with a finite element model. The woven plies in AP-PLY composite laminate altered the layup and two conventional laminates with different stacking sequences were identified in an AP-PLY composite laminate based on the assumption that the resin areas were ignored. A step by step approach was developed to obtain the SERR of a crack that goes across different materials. The analytical SERR determined when two materials are used in sequence, sets the stage for optimization of AP-PLY composite laminates without taking account of the effect of the resin area. The procedure of optimization of simple AP-PLY pattern was proposed and industry may benefit for many applications. An equivalent stiffness approach was used to model regions containing resin pockets and straight or inclined composite layers. A series of three point bending tests was carried out where the failure process and loading capacity were evaluated. The methodology, procedure of optimization, philosophy outlined in this thesis might also be applied to the more complicated fully woven AP-PLY composite laminates. The work in this thesis contributes to the understanding of the behavior of AP-PLY composite laminates with delaminations.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Bisagni, C., Supervisor
  • Kassapoglou, C., Advisor
Award date13 Dec 2016
Print ISBNs978-94-6186-765-0
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • AP-PLY Composite Laminates
  • Interwoven Structures
  • Delamination Onset
  • Delamination Growth
  • Cohesive zone element
  • Energy release rate


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