Buckling response of symmetrically laminated composite plates having a trapezoidal planform area

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Virginia Tech


The focus of this work is the buckling response of symmetrically laminated composite plates having a planform area in the shape of an isosceles trapezoid. The loading is assumed to be inplane and applied perpendicular to the parallel ends of the plate. The tapered edges of the plate are assumed to have simply supported boundary conditions, while the parallel ends are assumed to have either simply supported or clamped boundary conditions. Plates with one end being up to 3 times narrower than the other end, and the plate being up to 3 time longer than the width of the wide end are considered. A semi-analytic closed-form solution based on energy principles and the Trefftz stability criterion is derived and solutions are obtained using the Rayleigh-Ritz method. Intrinsic in this solution is a simplified prebuckling analysis which approximates the inplane force resultant distributions by the forms Nx=P/W(x) and Ny=Nxy=0, where P is the applied load and W(x) is the plate width which, for the trapezoidal planform, varies linearly with the lengthwise coordinate x. The out-of plane displacement is approximated by a double trigonometric series. This analysis is posed in terms of four nondimensional parameters representing orthotropic and anisotropic material properties, and two nondimensional parameters representing geometric properties. With nondimensionalization, the analysis is well suited for parametric studies. The analysis uses standard eigenvalue extraction routines and converges using 5 terms in the out-of-plane displacement series. It appears that this analysis captures the buckling response of plates having tapered planform and should be a useful design tool. For comparison purposes, a number of specific plate geometry, ply orientation, and stacking sequence combinations are investigated using the general purpose finite element code ABAQUS. Comparison of buckling coefficients calculated using the semi-analytical model and the finite element model show agreement within 5%, in general, and within 15% for the worst cases. In addition to the good agreement between the semi-analytical analysis and the finite element results, the finite element model also suggests that the simplified inplane force resultant distribution assumed in the analysis is valid. In order to verify both the finite element and semi-analytical analyses, buckling loads are measured for graphite/epoxy plates having a wide range of plate geometries and stacking sequences. Test fixtures, instrumentation system, and experimental technique are described. Experimental results for the buckling load, the buckled mode shape, and the prebuckling plate stiffness are presented and show good agreement with the analytical results regarding the buckling load and the prebuckling plate stiffness. However, the experimental results show that for some cases the analysis underpredicts the number of halfwaves in the buckled mode shape. In the context of the definitions of taper ratio and aspect ratio used in this study, it is concluded that the buckling load always increases as taper ratio increases for a given aspect ratio for plates having simply supported boundary conditions on the parallel ends. There are combinations of plate geometry and ply stacking sequences, however, that reverse this trend for plates having clamped boundary conditions on the parallel ends such that an increase in the taper ratio causes a decrease in the buckling load. The clamped boundary conditions on the parallel ends of the plate are shown to increase the buckling load compared to simply supported boundary conditions. Also, anisotropy (the D₁₆ and D₂₆ terms) is shown to decrease the buckling load and skew the buckled mode shape for both the simply supported and clamped boundary conditions.