Composite tubular structures have shown promise as energy absorbers in the automobile industry. This paper investigates the energy absorption characteristics of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) tubes with pre-existing holes. Holes may represent an extreme case of impact damage that perforates the tube, e.g., stones from road surface impacting the tubes. Tubes with holes represent more conservative performance characteristics, since impact damage of the same size will have residual material, which may carry some load. Tubes with holes can provide the lower limit of CFRP tube performance under axial crushing relative to impact damaged tubes with perforation diameter close to the hole diameter. In this study, tubes with lay-up of [05/902/04] with one and two holes in defined locations and different diameters are experimentally studied under quasi-static loading. It was found that specific energy absorption (SEA) reduces by 50% with one or two holes of 15 mm size, 100 mm from top of the tube. The SEA reduction is about 60% lower than the regular tube when the diameter of the hole is 20 mm located at 100 mm from top. The most severe reduction occurs if the location of single or double holes are 75 mm from the top. In this case, a SEA reduction of 75% can be expected. Results indicate that holes can significantly alter the energy absorption capability of the tubes. It is also clear that in axial crushing of composite tubes, the location of the hole (100 to 75 mm) appears to create more pronounced effect than the size of the hole itself (15 vs. 20 mm) for the cases investigated. The failure modes for tubes with holes seem to preserve similar damage modes with delamination, frond creation, and brittle fracture, which is typically observed in regular composite tubes under axial crushing load. This is due to primarily front end crushing, which dominates the failure modes, while hole induced damage occurs later.
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