Discrete element modelling of unidirectional fibre-reinforced polymers under transverse tension
The mechanical behaviour of unidirectional fibre-reinforced polymer composites subjected to transverse tension was studied using a two dimensional discrete element method. The Representative Volume Element (RVE) of the composite was idealised as a polymer matrix reinforced with randomly distributed parallel fibres. The matrix and fibres were constructed using disc particles bonded together using parallel bonds, while the fibre/matrix interfaces were represented by a displacement-softening model. The prevailing damage mechanisms observed from the model were interfacial debonding and matrix plastic deformation. Numerical simulations have shown that the magnitude of stress is significantly higher at the interfaces, especially in the areas with high fibre densities. Interface fracture energy, stiffness and strength all played important roles in the overall mechanical performance of the composite. It was also observed that tension cracks normally began with interfacial debonding. The merge of the interfacial and matrix micro-cracks resulted in the final catastrophic fracture.
Keywords: Polymer-matrix composites (PMCs), Fibre/matrix bond, Microstructure, Computational modelling, Discrete element method