An Experimental Investigation into Multi-Functional Z-pinned Composite Laminates

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This paper investigates the feasibility of monitoring progressive delamination growth in Z-pinned composite laminates via the measurement of through-thickness electrical resistance. This novel health monitoring technique is based on connecting Z-pins both in series and in parallel by means of arrays of electrodes arranged on the laminate surfaces. This creates a multi-functional (through-thickness reinforcing and sensing) laminated structure. Experimental results on double-cantilever beam coupons demonstrate that the entire Mode I bridging response of Z-pins can be monitored, from the arrival of the delamination front to the complete pull-out of the through-thickness reinforcement. Hence the extent of delamination can be inferred from the through-thickness resistance. This is proved for both conductive (carbon fibre-reinforced) and non-conductive (glass fibre-reinforced) laminates. The premature Z-pin failure during progressive pull-out corresponds to an abrupt increase of through-thickness electrical resistance. The delamination sensing/suppression method presented in this paper can be readily applied to Z-pinned composites at structural level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-688
Number of pages10
JournalMaterials and Design
Early online date12 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2016

Structured keywords

  • Composites UTC


  • Structural composites
  • Z-pins
  • Delamination
  • Fracture toughness
  • Health monitoring.


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