The effect of fatigue damage to unidirectional fiberglass composite specimens with prior contact heat damage was investigated. After damaging the specimens by contacting them to a hot tip at 360 °C, the specimens were subjected to fatigue loading at cyclic stress amplitude corresponding to 65% of the specimens’ ultimate tensile strength. The fatigue experiments was halted after 3000 cycles. The specimens were then subjected to tensile tests while monitoring their Acoustic Emission activity. In addition, acoustic emission activities of undamaged and contact heat damaged specimens were monitored during tensile tests for comparison with specimens with combined fatigue and heat damage. AE activities of all specimens can be categorized into three regions: an early rise in activity, a relatively dormant period in activity and a high exponential activity before failure. The early rise in activity did not appear on the specimens with combined contact heat and fatigue damage. For undamaged and contact heat damaged specimens, the period of the dormant activity was independent of the contact heat duration of less than 15 minutes. However, the period was a function of the contact heat duration for combined contact heat and fatigue damaged specimens. Analyzing event duration distribution identified micro-mechanisms of the damage growth upon tensile loading.
AE-stress delay concept was used to predict the state of the damage in the composite. A correlation between stress delay parameter and damage parameter was obtained for all of the specimens.
Fatigue life of contact heat damaged specimen was also studied. It was found that localized heat damage reduced the fatigue life significantly. Loss of matrix to transfer the load to the fibers uniformly was believed to be responsible for the reduction in the fatigue life.