PROCESSING-PERFORMANCE RELATIONSHIPS FOR FIBRE-REINFORCED COMPOSITES
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The present study considers the dependence of mechanical properties in composite laminates on the fibre architecture. The objective is to characterise the mechanical properties of composite plates while varying the fibre distribution but keeping the constituent materials unchanged. Image analysis and fractal dimension have been used to quantify fibre distribution and resin-rich volumes (RRV) and to correlate these with the mechanical properties of the fibre-reinforced composites. The formation, shape and size of RRV in composites with different fabric architectures is discussed. The majority of studies in literatures show a negative effect of the RRV on the mechanical behaviour of composite materials. RRV arise primarily as a result of (a) the clustering of fibres as bundles in textiles, (b) the stacking sequence, and/ or stacking process, (c) the resin properties and flow characteristics, (d) the heating rate as this directly affects viscosity and (e) the consolidation pressure. Woven glass and carbon/epoxy fabric composites were manufactured either by the infusion or the resin transfer moulding (RTM) process. The fractal dimension (D) has been employed to explore the correlation between fabric architecture and mechanical properties (in glass or/ carbon fibre reinforced composites with different weave styles and fibre volume fraction). The fractal dimension was determined using optical microscopy images and ImageJ with FracLac software, and the D has been correlated with the flexural modulus, ultimate flexural strength (UFS), interlaminar shear strength (ILSS) and the fatigue properties of the woven carbon/epoxy fabric composites. The present study also considers the dependence of fatigue properties in composite laminates on static properties and fibre architecture. Four-point flexural fatigue test was conducted under load control, at sinusoidal frequency of 10 Hz with amplitude control. Using a stress ratio (R=σmin/σmax) of 0.1 for the tension side and 10 for the compression side, specimens were subjected to maximum fatigue stresses of 95% to 82.5% step 2.5% of the ultimate flexural strength (UFS). The fatigue data were correlated with the static properties and the fibre distribution, in order to obtain a useful general description of the laminate behaviour under flexural fatigue load. The analysis of variance (ANOVA) technique was applied to the results obtained to identify statistically the significance of the correlations. Composite strength and ILSS show a clear dependence on the fibre distribution quantified using D. For the carbon fabric architectures considered in this study, the fatigue properties of composite laminates have significant correlations with the fibre distribution and the static properties of the laminates. The loss of 5-6 % in the flexural modulus of composite laminates indicates an increasing risk of failure of the composite laminates under fatigue loads. The endurance limits, based on either the static properties or the fibre distribution, were inversely proportional to the strength for all laminates.
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