Through-Thickness Compression Testing and Theory of Carbon Fibre Composite Materials

  • Luke Thompson

Student thesis: Phd


This study investigates the through-thickness behaviour of carbon/epoxy laminates. A through-thickness compression test regime was conducted utilising three specimen designs, which are waisted, hollow cylindrical and cubic specimens. An assessment and comparison of each specimen is given regarding their advantages and disadvantages in characterising the through-thickness response of [+45/-45/90/0]s quasi-isotropic AS4/8552 carbon/epoxy laminates. A finite element (FE) study of the three specimens is presented which results in specimen geometries that provided a macroscopically uniform stress response throughout the gauge length whilst also minimising other features such as stress concentrations. Further to the final geometries being presented, the method of manufacture for the laminate and machining processes for each of the specimens is given. A mesoscopic FE study is presented relating to the free-edge effects induced by through-thickness loading in quasi-isotropic laminates. The results presented show that free-edge effects will be present in the test specimens and will have a larger overall impact on the hollow cylindrical specimen. The free-edge effects also increase the stress concentrations present in the corners of the waisted and cubic specimens. Characteristic stress strain curves are presented for each specimen with strain data taken from post yield strain gauges attached to the specimens. The extracted initial Young's modulus Ez and Poisson's ratios vzx and vzy show a small variation between specimens. The strength values for the three specimens vary greatly with the waisted specimen being the strongest and cylindrical specimen the weakest, indicating that the chosen specimen geometry dominates failure. The experimental data will be used for test case 12 in the Second World Wide Failure Exercise (WWFE-II). A study is presented to predict the effective elastic properties of Z-pinned laminates. The materials under consideration are UD and [0/90]s cross-ply AS4/3501-6 carbon/epoxy laminates. Estimates on the effective properties are provided by two FE approaches and two analytical bounding approaches; namely Voigt and Reuss bounds and Walpole's bounding theory. The two FE approaches are based on extreme assumptions about the in-plane fibre volume fraction in the presence of Z-pins and provide a tight range of values in which the real result should lie. Furthermore, whilst the bounding methods are simple and in the case of Young's moduli produce very wide bounds the selection of the suitable bound result can lead to a good estimate in comparison with the FE data. Typically the best bounding method result for each elastic property is within 10% of the FE predictions.
Date of Award31 Dec 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorZhenmin Zou (Supervisor)


  • Caron Fibre
  • quasi-isotropic
  • strength
  • composites
  • unit cell
  • through-thickness
  • CFRP
  • testing

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