Fiber shape effects on the compressive strength of unidirectional carbon fiber composites: a computational study
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The tensile strength tends to be much higher than the compressive strength for carbon fiber reinforced polymer composites because of a change in failure modes. Current research activities are looking at novel precursors for reducing overall costs of carbon fiber production. The potential cost savings in new precursor carbon fiber make it economically feasible to use in large structural components. Some fiber precursors and manufacturing methods produce carbon fibers that have a kidney-shaped cross-section whereas traditional carbon fiber is circular. The aim of this study is to investigate the differences in compressive failure responses between fiber shapes in carbon fiber composites. A finite element micromechanical model was developed in ABAQUS of a single carbon fiber embedded in a square matrix with periodic boundary conditions. Two fiber cross-sectional geometries were examined: circular and kidney shaped. Three factors that affect the compressive failure response of carbon fiber reinforced polymers were investigated. These include fiber misalignment, volume fraction, and multiaxial loading. The results showed negligible differences between the compressive failure response of fibers with different cross-sectional shapes. Compressive strength was shown to have a decaying sensitivity to increasing fiber misalignment. Decreasing the volume fraction did decrease the compressive strength but also increased the compressive failure strain. In addition, adding in-plane shear loads proved detrimental to the compressive load-carrying capacity of a composite structure. This research showed minimizing fiber misalignment in manufacturing processes is only beneficial for high tolerance processes. In addition, decreasing volume fraction could be beneficial for highly flexible structures. Finally, the results demonstrated the need to minimize multiaxial loading for optimal composite compressive response.