Mechanical Engineering Faculty Research


Effect of Stitch Density and Stitch Thread Thickness on Compression After Impact Strength and Response of Stitched Composites

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 3-8-2012


In this paper, the damage failure and behaviour of stitched composites under compression after impact (CAI) loading are experimentally investigated. This study focuses on the effect of stitch density and stitch thread thickness on the CAI strength and response of laminated composites reinforced by through-thickness stitching. Experimental findings show that stitched composites have higher CAI failure load and displacement, which corresponds to higher energy absorption during CAI damage, mainly attributed to greater energy consumption by stitch fibre rupture. The coupling relationships between CAI strength, impact energy, stitch density and stitch thread thickness are also revealed. It is understood that the effectiveness of stitching has high dependency on the applied impact energy. At low impact energy range, CAI strength is found to be solely dependent on stitch density, showing no influence of stitch thread thickness. It is however observed that stitch fibre bridging is rendered ineffective in moderately stitched laminates during compressive failure, as local buckling occurs between stitch threads, resulting in unstitched and moderately stitched laminates have similar CAI strength. The CAI strength of densely stitched laminates is much higher due to effective stitch fibre bridging and numerous stitch thread breakages. At high impact energy level, CAI strength is discovered to be intimately related to both stitch density and stitch thread thickness. Since CAI failure initiates from impact-induced delamination area, stitch fibre bridging is considerable for all specimens due to the relatively large delamination area present. Stitch threads effectively bridge the delaminated area, inhibit local buckling and suppress delamination propagation, thus leading to increased CAI strength for laminates stitched with higher stitch density and larger stitch thread thickness. Fracture mechanisms and crack bridging phenomenon, elucidated by X-ray radiography are also presented and discussed. This study reveals novel understanding on the effectiveness of stitch parameters for improving impact tolerance of stitched composites.

Publication Title

Composites Science and Technology





First Page


Last Page