Debond Buckling of Woven E-glass/Balsa Sandwich Composites Exposed to One-sided Heating

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

An experimental investigation was undertaken to analyze the behavior of sandwich composite structures exposed to one-sided heating where a debond exists between the unexposed facesheet and core material. Sandwich composites of plain weave E-glass/epoxy facesheets and an end-grain balsa wood core manufactured using the Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM) technique were the only materials analyzed. These were selected due to their current use in naval vessels and the heightened interest in the fire response properties of balsa wood and its utility as a core material. In order to better understand the interfacial behavior, Mode I Double Cantilever Beam (DCB) fracture tests were performed at ambient, 60 C, and 80 C to determine the influence of the decreased Mode I fracture toughness. While ambient testing showed that stable crack growth could be obtained, high temperature tests resulted in considerable damage occurring to the core at the crack-front preventing stable crack growth. This can be attributed to the significant decrease in the balsa core strength and material properties even for small increases in temperature. Additionally, Mode II Cracked Split Beam (CSB) tests were performed at ambient temperature to examine the sliding dominant crack-growth. Again, the occurrence of balsa core damage prevented stable crack-growth and an accurate measurement of Mode II fracture toughness was not obtained.

Intermediate-scale compression testing with one-sided heating at two heat flux levels was performed with a custom designed load frame on sandwich composite columns. This enabled the influence of the debond to be measured using a 3D-Digital Image Correlation (DIC) technique spatially linked with a thermographic camera. The DIC allowed for a detailed observation of debond growth and buckling prior to global failure of the test article. A behavior similar to that observed in the Mode I DCB fracture tests occurred: as the interfacial temperature increased, the amount of crack growth decreased. This crack growth was followed by a core failure at the crack-front, triggering a global failure of the test article. This global failure for test articles containing a debond manifested itself primarily as an anti-symmetric post-buckling shape. Test articles with no debond exhibited the typical progression of the out-of-plane displacement profile for a fixed-fixed column. As the out-of-plane displacement increased, core failure ultimately occurred near the gripped region where the zero-slope condition is required, triggering global failure of the no debond test article. These tests highlight that the reduction in strength and material properties of the end-grain balsa wood core significantly outweigh the reduction in interfacial fracture toughness due to the increased temperatures.

Buckling, Sandwich Composite, Intermediate-Scale, High-Temperature, Debond, Interfacial Fracture