Effects of inter-fiber spacing on fiber-matrix debond crack growth in unidirectional composites under transverse loading
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2018 The energy release rate (ERR) of a fibermatrix debond crack in a unidirectional composite subjected to transverse tension is studied numerically. The focus of the study is the effect of the proximity of the neighboring fibers on the ERR. For this, a hexagonal pattern of fibers in the composite cross-section is considered. Assuming one fiber to be debonded at certain initial debond arc-length, the effect of the closeness of the surrounding six fibers on the ERR of the crack is studied with the inter-fiber distance as a parameter. Using an embedded cell consisting of discrete fibers in a matrix surrounded by the homogenized composite, a finite element model and the virtual crack closure technique are used to calculate the ERR. Results show that the presence of the local fiber cluster accelerates the crack growth up to a certain initial crack angle, beyond which the opposite effect occurs. It is also found that the residual stress due to thermal cooldown reduces the ERR. However, the thermal cooldown is found to enhance the debond growth in plies within a cross-ply laminate.