Delamination evolution under cyclic loading is one of the most important research topics for the application of composite materials to aerospace, naval, automotive and, in general, transportation fields. Large experimental campaigns are needed to assess the fatigue behavior of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers (CFRPs), which may result extremely time and cost consuming. Nevertheless, composite materials design needs to take into account the evolution of fatigue driven damage. Subsequently, the development of efficient and robust computational finite element methodologies to evaluate progression of delamination in composite structural components subjected to cyclic loading conditions has become relevant. In this paper, a numerical finite element procedure able to simulate the fatigue driven delamination growth is introduced. A Paris-law based cycle jump strategy, combined with the Virtual Crack Closure Technique (VCCT) approach, has been implemented in the commercial Finite Element Code ANSYS MECHANICAL via the Ansys Parametric Design Language (APDL). The main advantages of the proposed numerical procedure, named FT-SMXB, are related to its independence on the time step and element size in the frame of incremental analyses. The procedure has been preliminary validated, in this research study, at coupon level, by comparing the numerical results to literature experimental data on a unidirectional graphite/epoxy Double Cantilever Beam (DCB) specimen. The significant agreement between the obtained numerical results and the literature experimental benchmark data confirms the accuracy and the potential of the proposed methodology.
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