Damage Modelling For Composite Structures

  • Hao Lee

Student thesis: Phd


Modelling damage in composite materials has played an important role in designing composite structures. Although numerical models for the progressive damage in laminated composites (e.g. transverse cracking, delamination and fibre breakage) have been developed in the literature, there is still a need for further improvement. This thesis aimed at developing damage models suitable for predicting intra-laminar and inter-laminar damage behaviour in fibre-reinforced composite materials. Several approaches such as fracture mechanics and continuum damage mechanics have been adopted for constructing the damage model. Meso-macro-mechanics analysis was performed to gain an insight into the entire damage process up to the final failure of the composite laminate under various conditions. Cohesive elements were placed in the finite element model to simulate the initiation and propagation of matrix crack and delamination in cross-ply laminates. This helped to understand the direct interactions between damage modes, i.e. whether one damage mode would initiate the other damage mode. The formation of a single matrix crack and its propagation across the layer thickness was also revealed.A new cohesive zone/interface element model was developed to consider the effect of through-thickness compressive stress on mode II fracture resistance by introducing friction into the constitutive law of the conventional cohesive zone model. Application of the model to practical problem in composite laminates shows that this model can simulate delamination failure more accurately than the cohesive element in ABAQUS.Damage models based on continuum damage mechanics were proposed for predicting intra-laminar damage and interlaminar damage. Five intra-laminar failure modes, fibre tension, fibre compression, matrix tension, matrix compression and shear failure, were modelled. Damage initiation was predicted based on stress/strain failure criteria and damage evolution law was based on fracture energy dissipation. The nonlinear shear behaviour of the material was considered as well. These models have been implemented into ABAQUS via a user-defined material subroutine and validated against experimental/numerical results available in the literature. The issue related to numerical implementation, e.g. convergence in the softening regime, was also addressed. Numerical simulation of the indentation test on filament-wound pipe was finally conducted and damages generated in the pipe were predicted using the above developed damage models. The predictions show an excellent agreement with experimental observations including load/indentation responses and multiple delaminations shape and size. Attempt was made to detect damage-induced leakage path in the pipe after indentation.
Date of Award3 Jan 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorZhenmin Zou (Supervisor)


  • delamination
  • matrix cracking
  • composites
  • damage model

Cite this