Compressive behaviour of thin-skin stiffened composite panels with a stress raiser

Y. Zhuk, I. A. Guz, C. Soutis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The in-plane compressive behaviour of thin-skin stiffened composite panels with a stress concentrator in the form of an open hole or low velocity impact damage is examined analytically. Drop weight impact in laminated polymer composites causes matrix cracking, delaminations and fibre breakage, which together can seriously degrade the laminate compressive strength. Experimental studies, using ultrasonic C-scan images and X-ray shadow radiography, indicated that the overall damage resembles a hole. Under uniaxial compression loading, 0° fibre microbuckling surrounded by delamination grows laterally (like a crack) from the impact site as the applied load is increased. These local buckled regions continued to propagate, first in discrete increments and then rapidly at failure load. The damage pattern is very similar to that observed in laminated plates with open holes loaded in compression. Because of this resemblance, a fracture mechanics model, developed initially to predict notched compressive strength, was applied to estimate the compression-after-impact (CAI) strength of a stiffened panel; in the analysis the impact damage is replaced with an equivalent open hole. Also, the maximum stress failure criterion is employed to estimate the residual compressive strength of the panel. The unnotched compressive strength of the composite laminate required in the analysis is obtained from a three-dimensional stability theory of deformable bodies. The influence of the stiffener on the compressive strength of the thin-skin panel is examined and included in the analysis. A good agreement between experimental measurements and predicted values for the critical failure load is obtained.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-709
Number of pages13
JournalComposites. Part B: Engineering
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2001


  • layered structures
  • impact behaviour
  • strength
  • analytical modelling
  • stiffened panels


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