The low transverse strength properties of laminated composites often result in matrix cracking in off-axis plies as the initial failure mode. Strength-based theories are generally inadequate for modeling such phenomena, while fracture mechanics-based approaches offer significantly better potential. The shear deformation model developed in a previous publication to predict the stiffness loss associated with matrix cracking is extended to yield the strain energy release rate and hence load versus crack spacing predictions. These predictions are shown to be in reasonable agreement with experimental data for graphite/epoxy systems also. The shear deformation model can also be applied to other laminate configurations, for example, (±25/90n)s type.
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