The effect of foam core density and facesheet thickness on the low velocity impact response and damage evolution in homogeneous foam core sandwich composites was studied. The failure characteristics, initiation and evolution of damage as well as the effect of impact energy were investigated. A Dynatup 8210 Impact Test Machine was utilized to conduct the low-velocity impact tests. Characterization of the impact response was performed by comparing the impact load histories, impact plots and failure characteristics. Fractography analysis was conducted through the use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and optical microscopy. Three types of foam cores with different densities, namely Airlite B12.5, Rohacell IG-71R63 and Airex R63.5 foam cores, were used to study the effect of core density. Considering four groups of facesheets made of different layers of cross-ply carbon prepregs performed the effect of facesheet thickness.
For all the facesheet thicknesses (0.011-0.894-cm thick) and impact energy (11-40 J) range considered in this study, the maximum load (Pm), deflection-at-maximum load (δm) and time-to-maximum load (tm) exhibited strong influence or dependence on the type of foam core as opposed to the facesheet thickness. The energy-to-maximum load (Em), total energy absorbed (Et) and total energy-to-impact energy (Et/Eimp) ratio became less sensitive on the foam core density (or type) with increasing facesheet thickness. A transition point from foam core to facesheet controlled impact behavior as a function of impact energy level was observed. The impact parameters varied either linearly or parabolically with impact energy depending on the impact energy level, type of foam core and facesheet thickness. Excellent repeatability of impact data was generally obtained with increase in foam core density.