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An Analytical Model for the Response of Carbon/Epoxy-Aluminum Honeycomb Core Sandwich Structures Under Quasi-Static Indentation Loading



An analytical model is developed to predict the loading and unloading response, as well as the residual dent diameter and dent depth, of carbon/epoxy-aluminum honeycomb core composite sandwich structures undergoing quasi-static indentation loading. The model considers damage created using spherical indentors and is valid up to the barely visible external damage threshold. The initial low load regime (until the onset of core crushing) is modeled using a combination of local Hertzian indentation of an elastic half-space and small deflection plate theory of a circular plate on an elastic foundation. For loads above those required to cause core crushing, the model uses the Rayleigh-Ritz method of energy minimization with the total system energy determined using a combination of face sheet bending energy, face sheet membrane energy and work done to the core during both elastic deformation and crushing. Degraded face sheet properties are used in the model beyond the onset of face sheet delamination, which are predicted using Griffith’s energy criterion. The model is validated using experimental results for sandwich structures consisting of quasiisotropic 8 (thin) and 16 (thick) ply carbon/epoxy face sheets and aluminum honeycomb cores. The results show that the overall mechanics of the model is fundamentally correct and reflective of physical behavior. Thus, in its present form the model shows promise as a preliminary design tool.

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