This research investigated the fracture toughness and crack propagation behaviors of woven fabric reinforced polymer (WFRP) composite laminates subjected to single and mixed mode loadings using numerical models. The objectives were to characterize the fracture behaviors and toughness properties at the fiber/matrix interfaces and to identify mechanisms that can be exploited for increasing delamination resistance. The mode-I and mode-II strain energy release rates GI and GII, the effective critical strain energy release rate, Gc_eff, (also known as the mixed mode fracture toughness) and crack growth stabilities were determined as functions of crimped fiber paths using meso-scale, 2D multi-continuum finite element models. Three variations of a plain-woven fabric architecture were considered; each having different crimped fiber paths. The presence of mixed-mode strain energy release rates at the meso-scale due to the curvilinear fiber paths was shown to influence the interlaminar fracture toughness and was explored for pure single-mode and mixed-mode global loadings. It was concluded that woven fabric composites provided a Fracture Toughness Conversion Mechanism (FTCM) and their toughness properties were dependent upon and varied with positon along the crimped fiber paths. The FTCM was identified as an advanced tailoring mechanism that can be further utilized to improve toughness and damage tolerance thresholds especially when the mode-II fracture toughness GIIc is greater than the mode-I fracture toughness GIc.

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