All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Selvum Pillay

Advisory Committee Members

Alan Eberhardt

Shane Catledge

Gregory Thompson

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Engineering


Structural composite laminates were ballistically impacted while under in-plane com-pressive pre-stress. Residual properties, damage characterization, and energy absorption were compared to determine synergistic effects of in-plane compressive pre-stress and impact velocity. A fixture was developed to apply in-plane compressive loads up to 30 tons to structural composites during an impact event using a single-stage light-gas gun. Observed failure modes included typical conical delamination, the development of an impact initiated shear crack (IISC), and the shear failure of a pre-stressed composite due to impact. It was observed that the compressive failure threshold quadratically decreased in relation to the impact velocity up to velocities that caused partial penetration. For all laminates impacted at velocities causing partial or full penetration up to 350 ms-1, the failure threshold was consistent and used as an experimental normalization. Samples im-pacted below 65% of the failure threshold witnessed no significant change in damage morphology or residual properties when compared to typical conical delamination. Sam-ples impacted above 65% of the failure threshold witnessed additional damage in the form of a shear crack extending perpendicular to the applied load from the point of im-pact. The presence of an IISC reduced the residual properties and even caused failure upon impact at extreme combinations. Four failure envelopes have been established as: transient failure, steady state failure, impact initiated shear crack, and conical damage. Boundaries and empirically based equations for residual compressive strength have been developed for each envelope with relation to two E-glass/vinyl ester laminate systems. Many aspects of pre-stressed impact have been individually examined, but there have been no comprehensive examinations of pre-stressed impact. This research has resulted in the exploration and characterization of compressively pre-stressed damage for impact velocities resulting in reflection, partial penetration, and penetration at pre-stress levels resulting in conical damage, shear cracking, and failure.

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