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Modeling Fatigue Damage Onset and Progression in Composites Using an Element-Based Virtual Crack Closure Technique Combined with the Floating Node Method



A new methodology is proposed to model the onset and propagation of matrix cracks and delaminations in carbon-epoxy composites subject to fatigue loading. An extended interface element, based on the Floating Node Method, is developed to represent delaminations and matrix cracks explicitly in a mesh independent fashion. Crack propagation is determined using an element-based Virtual Crack Closure Technique approach to determine mixed-mode energy release rates, and the Paris-Law relationship to obtain crack growth rate. Crack onset is determined using a stressbased onset criterion coupled with a stress vs. cycle curve and Palmgren-Miner rule to account for fatigue damage accumulation. The approach is implemented in Abaqus/Standard® via the user subroutine functionality. Verification exercises are performed to assess the accuracy and correct implementation of the approach. Finally, it was demonstrated that this approach captured the differences in failure morphology in fatigue for two laminates of identical stiffness, but with layups containing θ° plies that were either stacked insingle  distributed through the laminate thickness.

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