The effect of metal-composite debonding on low-velocity impact response, i.e. on contact force–central deflection response, deformation profiles and strains on the free surfaces was studied. We focused on type 2/1 fibre metal laminate specimens made of stainless steel and carbon fibre epoxy layers, and tested them with drop-weight impact and quasi-static indentation loadings. Local strains were measured with strain gauges and full-field strains with a 3-D digital image correlation method. In addition, finite element simulations were performed and the effects of debonding were studied by exploiting cohesive elements. Our results showed that debonding, either the initial debonding or that formed during the loading, lowers the slope of the contact force–central deflection curve during the force increase. The debonding formation during the rebound phase was shown to amplify the rebound of the impact side, i.e. to lower the ultimate post-impact deflection. The free surface strains were studied on the laminate’s lower surface at the area outside the debond damage. In terms of in-plane strains, debonding formation during impact and indentation, as well as the initial debonding, lowered the peripheral strain and resulted in a positive change in the radial strain.
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