Experimental investigation of large-scale high-velocity soft-body impact on composite laminates

Cochrane, A.D. and Serra, J. and Lander, J.K. and Partridge, I.K. and Böhm, H. and Wollmann, T. and Hornig, A. and Gude, M. and Hallett, S.R. (2022) Experimental investigation of large-scale high-velocity soft-body impact on composite laminates. International Journal of Impact Engineering, 161. 104089. ISSN 0734-743X (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijimpeng.2021.104089)

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High-performance aerospace laminated composite structures manufactured from carbon-fibre prepreg are very susceptible to delamination failure under in-flight impact conditions. Much testing has been conducted at small length scales and quasi-static strain-rates to characterise the delamination performance of different material systems and loading scenarios. Testing at this scale and strain-rate is not representative of the failure conditions experienced by a laminate in a real impact event. Full-scale testing has also been conducted, but much of this is not in the open literature due to intellectual property constraints. Testing at this scale is also prohibitively expensive and involves complex failure mechanisms that cause difficulty in the analysis of associated failure behaviour. A novel test is presented which provides a simple, affordable alternative to full-scale testing but which invokes failure at sufficient scale and velocity to be representative of real component failure. This test design is experimentally validated through a series of soft-body gelatine impact tests using a light gas-gun facility. A fractographic analysis using scanning-electron microscopy was undertaken to examine microscopic failure behaviour, showing a possible reduction in crack mode-ratio during propagation.