Understanding the mechanical behavior of composite materials requires extensive knowledge of fracture behavior as a crack approaches an interface between the bulk material and the reinforcement structure. Overall material toughness can be greatly influenced by the propensity of an impinging crack to propagate directly through the substrate or deflect along an interface boundary. As the basis for this thesis; the assertion that an impinging crack may encounter a reinforcement structure at various incident angles is explored. This requires the ability to predict crack penetration/ deflection behavior not only normal to the reinforcement, but at various incident angles. Previous work in the area of interface fracture mechanics has used a stress or energy based approach, with recent advances in the field of a combined cohesive-zone method.
Work presented here investigates the interaction between strength and toughness when using the cohesive-zone method on the problem of an impinging crack not normally
incident to the interface of a composite material. Computational mechanics methods using Abaqus and user-define cohesive elements will be applied to this angled incident crack problem. A circular model based on the displacement field equations for mode-I fracture loading is introduced and verified against well-established LEFM solutions. This circular model is used to study the effects of incident crack angle on the penetration vs. deflection behavior of an impinging crack at various angles of incidence. Additionally, the effects of angle on the load applied to the model at fracture are explored. Finally, a case study investigating how the interaction between strength and toughness found using the cohesive-zone method helps to explain some of the inconsistencies seen in the interface indentation fracture test procedure.