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A method was previously developed to predict the fracture toughness (stress intensity factor at failure) of composites in terms of the elastic constants and the tensile failing strain of the fibers. The method was applied to boron/aluminum composites made with various proportions of 0° and ±45° plies. Predicted values of fracture toughness were in gross error because widespread yielding of the aluminum matrix made the compliance very nonlinear. An alternate method was developed to predict the strain intensity factor at failure rather than the stress intensity factor because the singular strain field was not affected by yielding as much as the stress field. Far-field strains at failure were calculated from the strain intensity factor, and then strengths were calculated from the far-field strains using uniaxial stress-strain curves. The predicted strengths were in good agreement with experimental values, even for the very nonlinear laminates that contained only ±45° plies. This approach should be valid for other metal matrix composites that have continuous fibers.
composite materials, metal matrix, fracture mechanics, stress intensity factor, strain intensity factor, boron/aluminum, strength, fracture toughness
Senior research engineer, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA