The energy-absorbing characteristics of carbon fiber-reinforced epoxy honeycomb structures

R. A. Alia, O. Al-Ali, S. Kumar, W. J. Cantwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


This paper investigates the compression properties and energy-absorbing characteristics of a carbon fiber-reinforced honeycomb structure manufactured using the vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding method (VARTM). The composite core materials were manufactured using a machined steel baseplate onto which hexagonal blocks were secured. A unidirectional carbon fiber fabric was inserted into the slots and the resulting mold was vacuum bagged and infused with a two-part epoxy resin. After curing, the hexagonal blocks were removed, leaving a well-defined composite honeycomb structure. Samples were then cut from the composite cores and inspected in an X-ray computed tomography machine prior to testing. Mechanical tests on the honeycomb structures yielded compression strengths of up to 35 MPa and specific energy absorption values in excess of 47 kJ/kg. When normalized by the density of the core, the resulting values of specific strength were significantly higher than those measured on traditional core materials. The unidirectional cores failed as a result of longitudinal splitting through the thickness of the core, whereas the multidirectional honeycombs failed in a combined splitting/fiber fracture mode, absorbing significantly more energy than their unidirectional counterparts. Increasing the weight fraction of fibers served to increase the strength and energy-absorbing capacity of the core. Finally, it was also shown that introducing a chamfer acted to reduce the initial peak force and precipitate a more stable mode of failure.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)1145-1157
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Composite Materials
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • Carbon fiber-reinforced epoxy honeycomb
  • chamfered
  • compression test
  • energy-absorbing
  • honeycomb
  • specific energy absorption
  • vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding method
  • X-CT


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