Modeling of delamination in carbon/epoxy composite laminates under four point bending for damage detection and sensor placement optimization
Laminated carbon fiber-reinforced polymer composites (CFRPs) possess very high specific strength and stiffness and this has accounted for their wide use in structural applications, most especially in the aerospace industry, where the trade-off between weight and strength is critical. Even though they possess much larger strength ratio as compared to metals like aluminum and lithium, damage in the metals mentioned is rather localized. However, CFRPs generate complex damage zones at stress concentration, with damage progression in the form of matrix cracking, delamination and fiber fracture or fiber/matrix de-bonding. This thesis is aimed at performing; stiffness degradation analysis on composite coupons, containing embedded delamination using the Four-Point Bend Test. The Lamb wave-based approach as a structural health monitoring (SHM) technique is used for damage detection in the composite coupons. Tests were carried-out on unidirectional composite coupons, obtained from panels manufactured with pre-existing defect in the form of embedded delamination in a laminate of stacking sequence [06/904/06]T. Composite coupons were obtained from panels, fabricated using vacuum assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM), a liquid composite molding (LCM) process. The discontinuity in the laminate structure due to the de-bonding of the middle plies caused by the insertion of a 0.3 mm thick wax, in-between the middle four (4) ninety degree (90o) plies, is detected using lamb waves generated by surface mounted piezoelectric (PZT) actuators. From the surface mounted piezoelectric sensors, response for both undamaged (coupon with no defect) and damaged (delaminated coupon) is obtained. A numerical study of the embedded crack propagation in the composite coupon under four-point and three-point bending was carried out using FEM. Model validation was then carried out comparing the numerical results with the experimental. Here, surface-to-surface contact property was used to model the composite coupon under simply supported boundary conditions. Theoretically calculated bending stiffness's and maximum deflection were compared with that of the experimental case and the numerical. After the FEA model was properly benchmarked with test data and exact solution, data obtained from the FEM model were used for sensor placement optimization.