Inadequate knowledge of the local stress distributions in damaged composites has been a major obstacle to progress in the understanding of damage accumulation and ultimate failure of such materials. Theoretical treatments of three-dimensional uniaxially reinforced composites are difficult, and direct experimental observations of stresses around interior flaws are not feasible. An experimental determination of stress distributions can be made using an electric analogue. A scaled model of the composite including the damage is made with the fibers replaced by conducting rods and the matrix replaced by an electrolyte. The resistivity ratio of rods to electrolyte is taken equal to the elastic modulus ratio of matrix to fiber. A tensile force applied in the fiber direction is modeled by applying a potential gradient in the rod direction. The displacement distribution in the composite is then modeled by the potential distribution in the analogue to an accuracy somewhat better than that given by shear lag theory. Thus stress distributions can be found by measuring potentials in the analogue with the aid of an electric probe.

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