The aeronautical structures manufactured by composite laminates experience damage as a result of the severe thermal and chemical conditions to which they are subjected during flight. Microcracks are one of the most common manifestations in terms of damage. Therefore, the study of its generation and propagation is fundamental in order to make improvements in design processes.
In this work, the processes of microcrack generation and propagation in carbon fiber laminate samples, manufactured by resin transfer molding (RTM), subjected to different conditions of thermal cycling and immersion in corrosive agents, are studied. In this study, images of the specimens were obtained using the X-ray computed tomography (XCT) technique. Thanks to these images, geometric data from the microcracks was extracted, as well as their preferential trajectories, which helped to understand the aforementioned generation and propagation phenomena.
Furthermore, mechanical properties of the constituents have been analyzed by means of nanoindentation techniques.
On the other hand, a predictive model has been created to simulate material behavior under different loading conditions. This simulation technique will help understanding microcrack initiation and propagation phenomena without deploying such big experimental campaigns.
This research has provided new insights into the complex interaction between different damage mechanisms.