Predicting low velocity impact damage and Compression-After-Impact (CAI) behaviour of composite laminates

Wei Tan, Brian Falzon, Louis Ngai-Sum Chiu, Mark Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

250 Citations (Scopus)


Low-velocity impact damage can drastically reduce the residual strength of a composite structure even when the damage is barely visible. The ability to computationally predict the extent of damage and compression-after-impact (CAI) strength of a composite structure can potentially lead to the exploration of a larger design space without incurring significant time and cost penalties. A high-fidelity three-dimensional composite damage model, to predict both low-velocity impact damage and CAI strength of composite laminates, has been developed and implemented as a user material subroutine in the commercial finite element package, ABAQUS/Explicit. The intralaminar damage model component accounts for physically-based tensile and compressive failure mechanisms, of the fibres and matrix, when subjected to a three-dimensional stress state. Cohesive behaviour was employed to model the interlaminar
failure between plies with a bi-linear traction–separation law for capturing damage onset and subsequent damage evolution. The virtual tests, set up in ABAQUS/Explicit, were executed in three steps, one to capture the impact damage, the second to stabilize the specimen by imposing new boundary conditions required for compression testing, and the third to predict the CAI strength. The observed intralaminar damage features, delamination damage area as well as residual strength are discussed. It is shown that the predicted results for impact damage and CAI strength correlated well with experimental testing
without the need of model calibration which is often required with other damage models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212 - 226
Number of pages15
JournalComposites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Laminates
  • Impact behaviour
  • Damage mechanics
  • Finite element analysis (FEA)

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