The Behavior of compressively loaded stiffener runout specimens - Part II: Finite element analysis

B G Falzon, D Hitchings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The termination of stiffeners in composite aircraft structures give rise to regions of high interlaminar shear and peel stresses as the load in the stiffener is diffused into the skin. This is of particular concern in co-cured composite stiffened structures where there is a relatively low resistance to through-thickness stress components at the skin-stiffener interface. In Part I, experimental results of tested specimens highlighted the influence of local design parameters on their structural response. Indeed some of the observed behavior was unexpected. There is a need to be able to analyse a range of changes in geometry rapidly to allow the analysis to form an integral part of the structural design process.

This work presents the development of a finite element methodology for modelling the failure process of these critical regions. An efficient thick shell element formulation is presented and this element is used in conjuction with the Virtual Crack Closure Technique (VCCT) to predict the crack growth characteristics of the modelled specimens. Three specimens were modelled and the qualitative aspects of crack growth were captured successfully. The shortcomings in the quantitative correlation between the predicted and observed failure loads are discussed. There was evidence to suggest that high through-thickness compressive stresses enhanced the fracture toughness in these critical regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-501
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Composite Materials
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites


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