Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


G. Thomas Mase


Carbon fiber reinforced composites are utilized in many design applications where high strength, low weight, and/or high stiffness are required. While composite materials can provide high strength and stiffness-to-weight ratios, they are also more complicated to analyze due to their inhomogeneous nature. One important failure mode of composite structures is delamination. This failure mode is common when composite laminates are subject to impact loading.

Various finite element methods for analyzing delamination exist. In this research, a modeling strategy based on contact tiebreak definitions in LS-DYNA®was used. A finite element model of a low-velocity impact event was created to predict delamination in a composite laminate. The resulting delamination relative size and shape was found to partially agree with analytical and experimental results for similar impact events, while the force-time plot agreed well with experimental results. A small difference in contact time in the simulation compared to experimental testing is likely due to the omission of composite failure modes other than delamination.

Experimental impact testing and subsequent vibrothermography analysis showed delamination damage in locations shown in previous research. This confirmed the validity of vibrothermography as a nondestructive evaluation technique for analyzing post-impact delamination.