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Research project: Micromechanistic analysis of damage evolution in aerospace and automotive materials - Dormant - Dormant

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To improve lifing methods in structural materials a thorough understanding of the micromechanisms of damage is required in order to develop physically meaningful modelling approaches.  High resolution X-ray computed tomography (X-ray CT) is a 3D imaging method that has been used to monitor the mechanisms of fatigue and tensile damage in aerospace and automotive materials such as composites and Al-alloys, where accurate lifing of components is essential.

In this Airbus sponsored project the micromechanisms of fatigue crack propagation in model and conventional airframe alloys are being investigated via in situ experiments at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF).  This analysis allows the investigation of the effects of crack closure and stress state on fatigue crack propagation during constant amplitude and post-overload growth in high strength Al-alloys.  The results have informed the development and are being used as part of a wider experimental programme to validate a multi-mechanism based analytical model of crack growth.

The micromechanisms of fatigue crack growth have also been assessed in Al-Si casting alloys.  These alloys contain many alloying additions and therefore exhibit a multiphase microstructure.  As such the evolution of damage during the lifetime of a fatigue crack is a complex process that is dependent on the mechanical properties, morphology, size and interconnected nature of the constituent phases.  High resolution X-ray tomography has been used as part of a large experimental programme to gain an in-depth understanding o the influence of the microstructure in all stages of fatigue life.

Recent work has also been performed at ESRF to gain a greater understanding of the micromechanisms of failure in composite materials during tensile deformation.  Using X-ray CT it was possible to capture the development of the complex damage evolution in these materials, for example the inter and intra lamina failure and individual fibre breakage.  These results will inform the development of a cohesive zone model, which may then be used to predict the damage tolerance of composite materials in a computationally efficient manner.

Conferences and events associated with this project:

Example SEM fractograph
Example SEM fractograph
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