Investigation of Sandwich Composite Failure under Three-Point Bending: Simulation and Experimental Validation


A sandwich structure consists of a two thin and strong facesheets, bonded to a thick lightweight core material. The mechanical response of a sandwich structure depends on the properties of its constituents. A numerical model and experimental validation of the three-point bending test of sandwich composites are presented in this study. The core material is aluminum honeycomb. The facesheets are made of IM7/Cycom5320-1, which is a carbon fiber/epoxy prepreg system. A comprehensive model of the failure under flexural loading was developed. Facesheet failure was modeled using Hashin’s failure criteria. A detailed meso-scale model of the honeycomb core was included in the model. The experiments indicated that failure initiation was due to local buckling in the honeycomb core. Failure propagation was in the form of core failure, facesheet compressive failure, and interlaminar failure. The developed meso-scale model was able to accurately simulate failure initiation and propagation in the composite sandwich structure. The effect of elevated temperature on the three-point bending behavior was studied numerically as well as experimentally. An increase in test temperature to 100°C resulted in a drop of 9.2% in flexural strength, which was also predicted by the numerical model.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Intelligent Systems Center

Second Research Center/Lab

Center for High Performance Computing Research

Keywords and Phrases

Sandwich Composite; Meso-Scale Modeling; Finite Element Method

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1099-6362; 1530-7972

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2018 SAGE, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

30 Jul 2018