At low impact energies damage in composite foam core sandwich structures is limited to core crushing and local face sheet delaminations. Higher impact energies may initiate the competing failure modes face sheet rupture and core shear failure depending on impact, geometric and material parameters. Face sheet rupture leads to severe local damage with typically good visibility, while core shear failure leads to cracks and rear face sheet debonding of the foam core with less visibility.
This work investigates the low velocity impact response of sandwich structures with carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) face sheets and a polymeric foam core using experiments at room temperature and at -55° Celsius. An analytically derived failure mode map is presented as a simple tool for design guidelines while the explicit finite element method is applied for a more detailed description of the sandwich impact process. Both models are used to analyze the impact response and describe relevant sensitivity parameters of sandwich structures.
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