INFLUENCE OF PROCESSING DAMAGE ON PERFORMANCE OF FIBER-REINFORCED COMPOSITES
The effect of processing-induced fiber damage, or equivalently the effect of fiber length in discontinuously-reinforced composites, on the tensile stress-strain behavior of a fiber-reinforced ceramic or metal matrix is determined as a function of the extent of initial fiber damage and the pristine fiber strength distribution. The analysis combines a generalization of the analysis employed for the undamaged fiber problem [Curtin, W. A. (1991) Theory of mechanical properties of ceramic-matrix composites. J. Am. Ceram. Sec. 74, 2837-2845] and numerical simulations to predict the stress-strain curve, ultimate tensile strength and strain, fiber pullout, and work of pullout in terms of the underlying micromechanical material parameters. The results show that the characteristic scale of initial damage required to weaken the composite substantially is always of the order of one fiber break per length delta(c), where delta(c) is the critical fiber slip length in the undamaged composite (typically similar to 1 mm). Overall, the effect of damage on tensile strength, failure strain, and pullout is found to be fairly small, which is attributed to the load carrying capacity of broken fibers due to the sliding resistance of the fiber/matrix interface. However, the detailed stress-strain behavior of the composite is modified. The analysis is applied to a Nicalon/CAS composite in which ''premature'' fiber damage has been observed. The inclusion of initial fiber damage into the theory accurately accounts for the excess strain, lower tangent modulus, and lower ultimate strength (relative to the predictions in the absence of initial fiber damage) observed in this material.