Compression After Impact Experiments and Analysis on Honeycomb Core Sandwich Panels with Thin Facesheets

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Virginia Tech


A better understanding of the effect of impact damage on composite structures is necessary to give the engineer an ability to design safe, efficient structures. Current composite structures suffer severe strength reduction under compressive loading conditions, due to even light damage, such as from low velocity impact. A review is undertaken to access the current state-of-development in the areas of experimental testing, and analysis methods. A set of experiments on Nomex honeycomb core sandwich panels, with thin woven fiberglass cloth facesheets, is described, which includes detailed instrumentation and unique observation techniques. These techniques include high speed video photography of compression after impact (CAI) failure, as well as, digital image correlation (DIC) for full-field deformation measurements. The effect of nominal core density on the observed failure mode is described. A finite element model (FEM) is developed to simulate the experiments performed in the current study. The purpose of this simulation is to predict the experimental test results, and to conrm the experimental test conclusions. A newly-developed, commercial implementation of the Multicontinuum Failure Theory (MCT) for progressive failure analysis (PFA) in composite laminates, Helius:MCT, is included in this model. The inclusion of PFA in the present model gives it the new, unique ability to account for multiple failure modes. In addition, significant impact damage detail is included in the model as a result of a large amount of easily available experimental test data. A sensitivity study is used to assess the effect of each damage detail on overall analysis results. Mesh convergence of the new FEM is also discussed. Analysis results are compared to the experimental results for each of the 32 CAI sandwich panel specimens tested to failure. The failure of each specimen is accurately predicted in a high-fidelity, physics-based simulation and the results highlight key improvements in the understanding of honeycomb core sandwich panel CAI failure. Finally, a parametric study highlights the strength benefits compared to mass penalty for various core densities.



Honeycomb Core Sandwich Panels, Compression After Impact, Damage Tolerance, Finite element method, Multicontinuum Failure Theory