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Substructure Damage Tolerancing in Carbon Fiber Composites Under Impact Fatigue



The service life of aircraft structural components often experience sub-catastrophic impact events, such as during launch and landing cycles or blunt impacts from ground service equipment. These occurrences lead to impact fatigue that can result in damage of the carbon fiber-reinforced composite structural components (CFRCs). Due to their stacked lay-up structure, internal damage may not manifest visibly on the surface as it could for a solid isotropic material. Consequently, it is critical to quantify subsurface damage accurately, including the link between impact energy, loading cycles and reduction in elastic stiffness parameters of composite structures for more rigorous service life predictions. A unique identification method to quantify impact fatigue substructure damage in the form of stiffness degradation is considered here. The method leverages deflectometry, a full-field optical method with high sensitivity to surface defects not visible to the naked eye. Coupled with the use of the Virtual Fields Method (VFM), this approach is demonstrated numerically through finite element ABAQUS simulations.


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