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Interface Cohesive Elements to Model Matrix Crack Evolution in Composite LaminatesIn this paper, the transverse matrix (resin) cracking developed in multidirectional composite laminates loaded in tension was numerically investigated by a finite element (FE) model implemented in the commercially available software Abaqus/Explicit 6.10. A theoretical solution using the equivalent constraint model (ECM) of the damaged laminate developed by Soutis et al. was employed to describe matrix cracking evolution and compared to the proposed numerical approach. In the numerical model, interface cohesive elements were inserted between neighbouring finite elements that run parallel to fibre orientation in each lamina to simulate matrix cracking with the assumption of equally spaced cracks (based on experimental measurements and observations). The stress based traction-separation law was introduced to simulate initiation of matrix cracking and propagation under mixed-mode loading. The numerically predicted crack density was found to depend on the mesh size of the model and the material fracture parameters defined for the cohesive elements. Numerical predictions of matrix crack density as a function of applied stress are in a good agreement to experimentally measured and theoretically (ECM) obtained values, but some further refinement will be required in near future work.
Modelling transverse matrix cracking and splitting of cross-ply composite laminates under four point bendingThe transverse matrix cracking and splitting in a cross-ply composite laminate has been modelled using the finite element (FE) method with the commercial code Abaqus/Explicit 6.10. The equivalent constraint model (ECM) developed by Soutis et al. has been used for the theoretical prediction of matrix cracking and results have been compared to those obtained experimentally and numerically. A stress-based traction–separation law has been used to simulate the initiation of matrix cracks and their growth under mixed-mode loading. Cohesive elements have been inserted between the interfaces of every neighbouring element along the fibre orientation for all 0° and 90° plies to predict the matrix cracking and splitting at predetermined crack spacing based on experimental observations. Good agreement is obtained between experimental and numerical crack density profiles for different 90° plies. In addition, different mechanisms of matrix cracking and growth processes were captured and splitting was also simulated in the bottom 0° ply by the numerical model.