Popularity and application of composite materials are increasing in several industries including transportation, construction and aerospace. The mechanical properties of these materials should be known to engineers to be able to design/select new products. Impact resistance is one of the properties which have been studied extensively over the past years and still is an ongoing topic in composites research. Since analytical solutions have not been fully developed for the impact characterization of anisotropic materials, researchers often perform mechanical testing in conjunction with visual inspection methods to investigate the impact behavior of composite materials. The present study shows that flexural toughness can be used as a parameter in the design/material selection stage in the evaluation of pre- and post-impact damage of composite laminates. A series of drop-weight impact tests, using a 200J energy level, were performed on specimens made of four different stacking configurations of TWINTEX® and unidirectional laminates (polypropylene and glass fiber commingled composites) according to ASTM D7136. The damaged areas of the impacted specimens were measured using image analysis. Four-point flexural testing was then carried out, based on ASTM D7264, on both non-impacted and impacted specimens. Damaged area and flexural toughness, along with a set of other commonly used mechanical properties, were selected as measures for damage evaluation. Comparison of results before and after impact and under different criteria showed that in the present case study, visual inspection is not sufficient in predicting the post-impact properties of the tested specimens and can be misleading. On the other hand, flexural toughness could give a much clearer perspective on the extent of post-impact resistance of the specimens.

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