After more than 30 years of careful experimental investigation and exhaustive development of discrete damage analysis methods including integrated computational mechanics methods, our community knows a great deal about how discrete defects such as matrix cracks and defect growth (e.g. delamination) can be predicted. But for many practical situations controlled by laminated multiaxial composite structures, the loss of performance and “sudden death” end of life is controlled by defect coupling which becomes a precursor to fracture plane development. Until recently, analysis methods to address such complex interaction and coupling of multiple defects and experimental methods of following the details of such interaction sequences as a foundation for understanding and model validation were not available. We believe that this barrier has been largely removed by recent work. The present discussion outlines the methods and lessons learned and sets the foundation for Predicting the strength and Life of Fibrous Composite Laminates from analysis and simulation, or from material state data recorded during service.
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