Effect of heterogeneity at the fiber-matrix scale on predicted free-edge stresses for a [0 degrees/90 degrees](s) laminated composite subjected to uniaxial tension Academic Article uri icon


  • The effect of the free-edge on the interlaminar stresses that develop in a thin-ply [0/90]s laminated composite under uniaxial tension was explored using finite element models that directly modeled the random heterogeneous microstructure and a model that treated the plies as homogeneous, orthotropic materials. The deformed cross-sections were compared for the two cases, showing that the homogeneous model generally captured the displacement field well but the heterogenous model exhibited local perturbations due to the microstructure. The interlaminar normal stress distributions along the ply interfaces were very different for two models. The heterogeneous model exhibited a complex pattern of stresses that were sensitive to nearby fibers. A comparison of the interlaminar shear stress distributions for the two models showed better agreement, though the heterogeneous model greatly differed from the homogeneous model when fibers or matrix pockets were close to the ply interface. After separating the effect of the fibers and the free-edge effect, the stresses that develop due to the free-edge effect matched well between the two models, except very close to the free-edge. It was shown that the Poissons ratios of the fibers and matrix significantly affect the stress distributions along the ply interface, and a matrix Poissons ratio could be selected that reduces the effect of the microstructure on the interlaminar normal stress. The study highlighted that a full 3D analysis can provide new insights for classical problems, and more optimal design of composites will require consideration of microstructural effects.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Ballard, M. K., & Whitcomb, J. D.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • March 2019