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FATIGUE LIFE ANALYSIS OF TAPERED HYBRID COMPOSITE FLEXBEAMS Gretchen B. Murri U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Vehicle Technology Directorate NASA Langley Research C enter, Hampton, VA Jeffery R. Schaff United Technologies Research Center, East Hartford, CT Alan L. Dobyns Sikorsky Aircraft, Stratford, CT ABSTRACT Nonlinear-tapered flexbeam laminates from a full-size composite helicopter rotor hub flexbeam were tested under combined constant axial tension and cyclic bending loads. The two different graphite/glass hybrid configurations tested under cyclic loading failed by delamination in the tapered region. A 2-D finite element model was developed which closely approximated the flexbeam geometry, boundary conditions, and loading. The analysis results from two geometrically nonlinear finite element codes, ANSYS and ABAQUS, are presented and compared. Strain energy release rates (G) obtained from the above codes using the virtual crack closure technique (VCCT) at a resin crack location in the flexbeams are presented for both hybrid material types. These results compare well with each other and suggest that the initial delamination growth from the resin crack toward the thick region of the flexbeam is strongly mode II. The peak calculated G values were used with material characterization data to calculate fatigue life curves and compared with test data. A curve relating maximum surface strain to number of loading cycles at delamination onset compared reasonably well with the test results. Key words: flexbeam, delamination, VCCT, fatigue, strain energy release rate, fracture mechanics INTRODUCTION Polymeric composites are used to manufacture hingeless, bearingless composite rotor hubs for helicopters. These components are made of fewer parts and offer the advantages of reduced weight and drag, compared to metal hubs. However, unlike metals, there are no fracture mechanics based methods for predicting strength and life of these structures with damage. Typically, damage is simulated in structural analytical models and fracture mechanics based techniques are used to calculate strain energy release rates, as proposed by O'Brien in ref. 1 and summarized by Martin in ref. 2. In ref. 3, the fatigue life to onset of delamination was correctly calculated for coupon-size tapered flexbeams under tension- bending cyclic loading. An analysis and test methodology that incorporates damage, failure initiation and growth, and failure probability is critical to demonstrate reliability for new and existing rotor hub designs. In order to accommodate bending loads in the flapping flexure region, composite flexbeams use internal ply-drops to create a non-linear taper. These internal ply-drops create material and geometric discontinuities, and are sources of delamination onset [3-8]. In ref. 9, the effect of combined tension- bending loading on two different hybrid graphite/glass-epoxy laminates with a nonlinear taper was studied. Test specimens were cut from a full-size helicopter tail-rotor flexbeam and were tested in a hydraulic load frame under combined constant axial-tension load and transverse cyclic bending loads.
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This note was uploaded on 01/05/2011 for the course DU 3 taught by Professor Frando during the Spring '10 term at University of Dundee.

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