Delamination accompanied with the drilling of composite laminates has been recognized as a major problem. An analytical model is established to predict critical thrust force and critical feedrate at which the delamination crack begins to propagate. For unidirectional composites, the delamination zone is modeled as an elliptical plate, with clamped edges and subjected to a central load. Based on fracture mechanics, laminated plate theory and cutting mechanics, expressions are developed for critical thrusts and critical feedrates at which delamination is initiated at different ply locations. This model has been verified by experiments. A variable feedrate strategy is formulated based on this model, which avoids delamination while drilling in a time-optimal fashion. In addition, the need to modify tool geometry to avoid delamination is highlighted. Chisel edge width has been identified as an important factor contributing to the thrust force and hence delamination.

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