The coupling between structural support and protection makes biological systems an important source of inspiration for the development of advanced smart composite structures. In particular, some particular material configurations can be implemented into traditional composites in order to improve their impact resistance and the out-of-plane properties, which represents one of the major weakness of commercial carbon fibres reinforced polymers (CFRP) structures. Based on this premise, a three-dimensional twisted arrangement shown in a vast multitude of biological systems (such as the armoured cuticles of Scarabei, the scales of Arapaima Gigas and the smashing club of Odontodactylus Scyllarus) has been replicated to develop an improved structural material characterised by a high level of in-plane isotropy and a higher interfacial strength generated by the smooth stiffness transition between each layer of fibrils. Indeed, due to their intrinsic layered nature, interlaminar stresses are one of the major causes of failure of traditional CFRP and are generated by the mismatch of the elastic properties between plies in a traditional laminate. Since the energy required to open a crack or a delamination between two adjacent plies is due to the difference between their orientations, the gradual angle variation obtained by mimicking the Bouligand Structures could improve energy absorption and the residual properties of carbon laminates when they are subjected to low velocity impact event. Two different bioinspired laminates were manufactured following a double helicoidal approach and a rotational one and were subjected to a complete test campaign including low velocity impact loading and compared to a traditional quasi-isotropic panel. Fractography analysis via X-Ray tomography was used to understand the mechanical behaviour of the different laminates and the residual properties were evaluated via Compression After Impact (CAI) tests. Results confirmed that the biological twisted structures can be replicated into traditional layered composites and are able to enhance the out-of-plane properties without a dangerous degradation of the in-plane properties.
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