Prepreg Technology

PREPREG TECHNOLOGY

Prepregs have had a considerable impact on the evolution of man in the late 20th century. Used in all aerospace programmes worldwide, they are also enabling a new generation of high speed trains and fast ships to become reality rather than a designer's dream. Many industries are just discovering the benefits of these fibre-reinforced composites over conventional materials. This guide sets out to remove some of the mystification surrounding prepregs, by explaining the technology involved. We have pioneered the development of prepregs for over 60 years. The trademark HexPly® is renowned in aerospace and other high performance industries.

March 2005 Publication No. FGU 017b ® Hexcel Registered Trademark © Hexcel Corporation

HEXCEL COMPOSITES

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...............................What is the role of each layer in vacuum bag assembly ? .......... 20 I .......Why use composites ? ..........................What are the different prepreg processing techniques ? ........................................................................What are the fibre properties ? ................ 27 B ............................................................. 19 G .....Why use prepregs ? ............................................................ fibre volume and composite density ...What is the best cure cycle for thicker components ? ................. 13 B .........................................................................................................What are the best processing methods for thicker industrial components ? .............. 16 E ....... 7 MATRIX PROPERTIES A ....... 4 C .....................................How do different matrices compare in terms of temperature/mechanical performance? ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................What health and safety precautions should be taken when handling prepregs ? ..................................................................................................How is a sandwich construction produced ? ........................................... 19 H ................................... 6 C ...................................................................................Choice of prepreg resin content to achieve required fibre volume/cured ply thickness ..................Vacuum bag or autoclave ....................... 8 B ................................................................. 23 C ....................................................................................PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY CONTENTS Page INTRODUCTION A ...................................How are prepregs made ? ........................................................... 3 B ...................................................................................What is a prepreg sandwich construction ? .............................................................What are the characteristics of a composite material ? ......... 12 PREPREG PROCESSING A ...............What are the properties of a sandwich construction ? ... 5 B ...................................................................................What are the different styles of fabrics ? ......................What are the properties of different thermoset matrices ? ........................... 28 B ......................................................How is vacuum bag and autoclave processing carried out ? .. 27 APPENDIX I ...........How should prepregs be stored ? ..................................Main technologies for high performance composites ..........What is the role of the matrix ? ...........................What is a prepreg ? ...........................................................................................................................................CALCULATIONS A ........................................... 15 D ........................................... 21 PROPERTIES OF FIBRE-REINFORCED COMPOSITES A ...............which process ? ........................................ 18 F ...................... 14 C ........................................... 30 APPENDIX II ................HEXCEL PRODUCT RANGE 2 .............................. 4 FIBRE AND FABRIC PROPERTIES A ..................................................................... 11 C .............What are the main factors affecting the choice of reinforcement ? ................Where are prepregs used ? ........................................................ 24 PREPREG STORAGE AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS A ..............................Theoretical calculations of bleeder plies to make a composite laminate of selected fibre volume ............................................................................................................................... 22 B ...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................How are composites tested ? ........................................What are the main autoclave and vacuum bag processing parameters ? ......................... 9 C ............................................ 10 PREPREG PROPERTIES A ............................... 11 B ................................ 29 C ...... 20 J .............Calculation of cured ply thickness............................What physio/chemical tests are made on prepregs before and after cure ? ...............

For more information on our product range.INTRODUCTION The benefits of composite materials are well documented and the great variety of applications for composites ranging from "industrial" and "sports and leisure" to high performance aerospace components indicates that composite materials have a promising future. This guide has been written to provide a greater understanding of PREPREGS. processed. prepreg selection or processing techniques please contact Hexcel. PREPREGS ADVANCED RTM* AND RESIN INFUSION THERMO PLASTICS Performance WET LAY-UP RTM* FIBREGLASS RANDOM MATS SHORT FIBRES Production volume * RTM : Resin Transfer Moulding 3 . their properties and varied applications. A . Information is provided to assist with the choice of the most suitable prepreg and processing method for an application. how they are manufactured. To assist with product selection Hexcel has produced the PREPREG MATRIX SELECTOR GUIDE which is available on request.Main technologies for high performance composites The position of prepreg technology in terms of performance and production volumes is compared below with other fabrication processes.

It is ready to use in the component manufacturing process.UNIDIRECTIONAL (UD) form (one direction of reinforcement) .What is a prepreg ? A prepreg consists of a combination of a matrix (or resin) and fibre reinforcement.Why use composites ? Comparison of different material characteristics : Volume weight (kg/m 3 ) 1 000 100 wood composites & plastics aluminium titanium concretes steel 10 000 Tensile strength (Mpa) 100 10 wood concretes plastics glass light alloys steel composites aramid carbon boron 1 000 10 000 Tensile modulus (Mpa) 10 000 1 000 plastics wood concretes glass aluminium titanium boron steel composites carbon aramid 100 000 1 000 000 Composites provide the advantages of lower weight. C . support support polyethylene protector 1 to 1 500 mm weft 50 to 1 500 mm silicone paper protector polyethylene protector warp Unidirectional reinforcement Fabric reinforcement HEXCEL COMPOSITES 4 4 . greater strength and higher stiffness. It is available in : .FABRIC form (several directions of reinforcement).PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY B .

while offering significant weight savings over metals. as well as good thermal. electric and chemical properties.5 2 1.5 1 0.FIBRE AND FABRIC PROPERTIES A . DENSITY g/cm 3 3 2.What are the fibre properties ? Reinforcement materials provide composites with mechanical performance : excellent stiffness and strength. The range of fibres is extensive. The graphs below highlight the main criteria for fibre selection.5 0 50 0 150 COST Cost ratio 200 100 hi gh od m ul us E- hi TENSILE STRENGTH MPa 4500 4000 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 hi gh st re ng th hi e ly po R ar R Egl as s ar e ly po -g gh gh -g la ss am gl am id la as m st id th ss th e en yl s re od ul us e en yl ng th on rb ca on rb ca on rb ca on rb ca TENSILE MODULUS GPa 450 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 E- hi gh od m us ul hi E- hi gh st re ng th o rb ca n hi R e ly po e ly po R -g ar ar am -g gh gh am gl gl as s la la ss as m st id id th ss th e en yl s re od us ul e en yl ng th ca on rb ca on rb ca on rb 5 .

There are four main weave styles : PLAIN WEAVE SATIN WEAVE A ATIN (4. 2/2) Low drapeability/high crimp r rapeability/high NON CRIMP FABRICS Unidirectional layers assembled a Average drapeability/no crimp NCF Good drapeability/low crimp r rapeability/low Average drapeab l ty/average crimp v rage rapeability/av r ver r r v ve NC2 6 . Low crimp gives better mechanical performance y y. 5.PREPREG TECHNOLOGY B . 8. 3/1.What are the different styles of fabrics ? r re f rent fer r The weave style can be varied according to crimp and drapeability. 11) TWILL WEAVE (2/1.

cost-effective technology • Strength and stiffness in multiple directions • Unlimited ply orientation NCF Multiaxials • Ability to optimise weight distribution in fabric • No crimp • Less waste for complex lay-ups (cross plies) • Reduced processing cost • Heavy weights achievable • As NCF. plus • Gap free construction Large Advanced Structures Aerospace Floor Beams Industrial NC2 • Suitable for heavy tows and high modulus fibre • Homogenous filament distribution in the matrix yielding: • Improved mechanical properties (compression) • Enhanced resin flow effect (capillarity) 7 . and each type offers particular advantages. as shown below.500 g/m2 • Economic processing • For components requiring predominant strength and stiffness in one direction • Good handling characteristics • Weights from 160 to 1.What are the main factors affecting the choice of reinforcement ? Reinforcement come in various forms.C .1.000 g/m2 • Strength and stiffness in two directions • Very good handling characteristics • Good drape • Choice of weave styles • Possible to mix fibres • Weights from 20 to 1.000 g/m2 Fabrics > 80 % warp Aerospace Industrial Sport and leisure Woven fabrics Balanced fabrics Aerospace Industrial Sport and leisure • Time-saving. Reinforcement Tape Advantages • High strength and stiffness in one direction • Low fibre weights ≈ 100 g/m2 Applications Sports goods Aircraft primary structures Pressure vessels Drive shafts Tubes Yacht masts Leaf springs Skis Windmill blades Single tow • Suitable for filament winding • Very narrow width for accurate fibre placement (1 mm) • High strength and stiffness in one direction Unidirectional Strips • High fibre weights ≈ 500 .

there are more constituents and the cure process is more complex. In practice. keeps the fibres in their position and chosen orientation.What is the role of the matrix ? The role of the matrix is to support the fibres and bond them together in the composite material.PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY MATRIX PROPERTIES A . without 8 . The matrix also gives the composite environmental resistance and determines the maximum service temperature of a prepreg. The thermoset cure mechanism and the role of the different components of a matrix are represented below. CURING THE MATRIX (under temperature and pressure) Pre-polymers (with free reactive sites) ROLE OF THE DIFFERENT CONSTITUENTS OF A MATRIX Hardener Cure (joining of reactive sites) Accelerator Cured polymer Fillers Thermoplastic resins with There are a wide range of matrices available. Once this process has taken place the polymer is fully cured. It transfers any applied loads to the fibres. The cure can be simply represented by pre-polymers whose reactive sites join together forming chains and cross linking. When selecting prepregs the maximum service temperature is one of the key selection criteria for choosing the best prepreg matrix.

fire and radiation 9 . phenolic and bismaleimide. EPOXY Advantages Applications 120 °C cure 180 °C cure Aerospace Military Excellent mechanical performance • Good environmental resistance and high toughness • Easy processing Aerospace Sport Leisure Marine Automotive Railways Transport PHENOLIC Excellent fire resistance • Good temperature resistance • Low smoke and toxic emissions • Rapid cure • Economic processing Aerospace (interior components) Marine Railways BISMALEIMIDE (AND POLYIMIDE) Excellent resistance to high temperatures • Service temperature up to 260 ºC • Good mechanical characteristics 260 ºC Aeroengines High temperature components • Good resistance to chemical agents.What are the properties of different thermoset matrices ? There are three main matrix types : epoxy.B . The table below indicates the advantages of each type and typical applications.

PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY C . Long cure cycles needed to obtain best properties.How do different matrices compare in terms of temperature/mechanical performance ? Matrices can be conveniently classified according to service temperature as follows : Type Phenolic Epoxy Epoxy Bismaleimides (BMI) and polyimides Service Temperature 80-100°C 100°C 130-155°C Characteristics Excellent fire. smoke and toxicity properties (FST). 10 . Temperature resistance main priority. Highly toughened epoxy systems usually exhibit good adhesion for honeycomb bonding. 260°C Structural 180ºC Curing Epoxy Systems MECHANICAL PERFORMANCE Good 120ºC Curing Epoxy Systems BMI Polyimide Average Phenolic Fire resistance Service temperature (°C) -80 0 120 180 250 300 To select the matrix best suited to your application. Toughened epoxy systems aiming for maximum hot wet properties. refer to the PREPREG MATRIX SELECTOR GUIDE available from HEXCEL. while preserving handling and toughness qualities.

Why use prepregs ? r regs repr r T Two main criteria influence the selection of prepregs for a par ticular application : performance and cost.Where are prepregs used ? r r r regs re re repr r Aerospace Railway Energy r rgy Marine Sport and leisure 11 .PREPREG PROPERTIES A .. The diagram f below shows the advantages of using prepregs. PERFORMANCE COST TWO OBJECTIVES FOR DESIGN . ONE SOLUTION PREPREGS PRODUCTION DESIGN FINISHED COMPONENT WEIGHT SAVING EASILY PROCESSED • Lower fabrication cost • • Reduced number of parts • Control of fibre content OPTIMIZED PERFORMANCE • Optimized weight/ performance ratio GOOD MECHANICAL PERFORMANCE • Fatigue. tensile. stiffness F • • Good ageing • Repair B ..

Film transfer reinforcement matrix film release paper consolidation prepreg matrix film heating Solution route VERTICAL (TOWER) oven HORIZONTAL paper or polyethylene film release prepreg oven release paper prepreg reinforcement release paper matrix nip rollers reinforcement matrix bath paper or polyethylene film release COMPOSITES 12 .Film production matrix coating head release paper matrix film Step 2 .How are prepregs made ? MANUFACTURING TECHNIQUES Film transfer route : 2 steps process Step 1 .PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY C .

What are the different prepreg processing techniques ? Prepregs can be processed in different ways. ski Industry Distance PROCESSING METHODS Tube rolling process Prepreg Applications : Fishing rod Skispoon Tubes Ski poles Golf shafts Mandrel Lower tool Oven cure or hot press Prepreg Applications : Masts Tube Shrink tape Oven curing Pressure bag process Tool Prepreg Pressure 2 to 10 bar Pressure bag 13 . Vacuum bag process Autoclave process Pressure 1 to 10 bar Oven Oven To vacuum pump To vacuum pump Prepreg under vacuum bag Applications : Marine Industry Railway Interior parts Wind Energy Automotive Applications : High quality composites Structural parts Prepreg under vacuum bag Discharge Match moulding process Upper tool Applications : Flat panel Sport.PREPREG PROCESSING A . The diagram below enables the most appropriate method to be chosen for a particular application.

High processing pressures allow the moulding of thicker sections of complex shapes. The vacuum bag technique involves the placing and sealing of a flexible bag over a composite lay-up (fig. Seal Connector to vacuum pump Vacuum bag Prepreg Atmospheric pressure Fig. The autoclave technique requires a similar vacuum bag (fig. heat up rate and cure temperature are controlled. pressure. 2 : applying vacuum to the system The removal of air forces the bag down onto the lay-up with a consolidation pressure of 1 atmosphere (1 bar).which process ? Vacuum bag and autoclave processing are the two main methods for the manufacture of components from prepreg. Sometimes slow heat up rates are required to guarantee even temperature distribution on the tooling and composite components. is placed inside an oven with good air circulation. 1 : sealing flexible bag over lay-up Fig. Long cure cycles are required because the large autoclave mass takes a long time to heat up and cool down. with vacuum still applied. cost and type of component being manufactured. 3) but the oven is replaced by an autoclave. The autoclave is a pressure vessel which provides the curing conditions for the composite where the application of vacuum. 1) and evacuating all the air from under the bag (fig. 2). 14 . The completed assembly. Autoclave processing is used for the manufacture of superior quality structural components containing high fibre volume and low void contents. and the composite is produced after a relatively short cure cycle.PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY B . The processing method is determined by the quality. Honeycomb sandwich structures can also be made to a high standard. Component Processing method • Vacuum bag • Autoclave Processing costs Quality Good Excellent Section thickness Equipment cost Cure cycle time Thin Thick Moderate High Short Long Vacuum bag processing is suited to components with thin sections and large sandwich structures.Vacuum bag or autoclave .

This lay-up is ideal for high quality aerospace components. Some vacuum bags are moulded to produce production components and are reusable. Provides a sealed bag to allow removal of air to form the vacuum bag. Usually made of felt of glass fabric and absorbs the excess matrix. 3 : detail of vacuum bag lay-up All the components of a vacuum bag lay-up are shown in the diagram above.What is the role of each layer in vacuum bag assembly ? Consumables for vacuum bag processing : • Release agent • Peel ply (optional) Allows release of the cured prepreg component from the tool. Can be removed easily after cure to provide a bondable or paintable surface. C . Contains resin flow and component shape. Allows free passage of volatiles and excess matrix during the cure. however alternative lay-ups are possible for industrial applications. Provides the means to apply the vacuum and assists removal of air and volatiles from the whole assembly. 15 . This layer prevents further flow of matrix and can be slightly porous (with pin pricks) to allow the passage of only air and volatiles into the breather layer above.Vacuum bag Breather fabric Release film To vacuum pump Bleeder fabric Release film Seal Peel ply Prepreg Peel ply Release agent Mould or tool Edge dam Fig. Thicker breathers are needed when high autoclave pressures are used. • Bleeder fabric • Release film • Breather fabric • Edge dam • Vacuum bag/sealant tape NOTE : it is recommended that new consumables are used each time to ensure the manufacture of good quality components. The matrix flow can be regulated by the quantity of bleeder. to produce composites of known fibre volume (see calculation).

Thermocouple 16 . .PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY D . medium or low tack. etc.The prepreg can be high. This enables the most appropriate method to be chosen for a particular application considering the corresponding advantages and disadvantages. etc. LAY-UP CURING Autoclave process Pressure 1 to 10 bar 1 APPLY MOULD RELEASE Oven To vacuum pump 2 Thermocouple Prepreg under vacuum bag Discharge LAY-UP PREPREG Application of vacuum + heat 3 4 ASSEMBLE VACUUM BAG Application of vacuum + heat 1 Apply mould release . etc.).).with an aerosol in a specially prepared room (vapour. deposit of mould release on the prepreg.) NOTE : comply with instructions for use. . Oven Prepreg under vacuum bag To vacuum pump 3 Ensure the vacuum bag is tightly sealed and leak free.Wear protective clothing (gloves.with a brush or cellulose pad .Easy to cut with a sharp tool (cutter. Vacuum bag process 2 Lay-up prepreg . CAUTION : make sure that the prepreg protective film is removed before laying-up.How is vacuum bag and autoclave processing carried out ? The information below on vacuum bag and autoclave processing techniques compares these production methods.

1 -1 P2 (bar) Time Finished parts Vacuum bag process (oven cure) T ºC Cure temperature Temperature 20 Time Vacuum Time -1 P2 (bar) 17 .0.STANDARD CURE CYCLE Autoclave process FINISHED PARTS T ºC Cure temperature 20 Time P1 (bar) Autoclave pressure Composites 0 Time Vacuum .

viscosity. It is common practice in autoclave cure cycles to reduce the applied vacuum to a low level and this acts as a very effective vacuum bag leak detector. The first ply attached to the tool face is generally consolidated and this can be repeated after every 3 or 5 layers depending on the prepreg thickness and component shape. for the duration of the cure cycle. Thermocouples used to monitor the temperature should be placed carefully to ensure accurate information is received for the whole system and to operate at the cure temperature ± 5 ºC. 18 . Consolidation Large quantities of air are inevitably trapped between each prepreg layer and can be removed by covering the prepreg with a release film. Temperature tolerances The oven/autoclave. Cure time Each prepreg has a recommended cure time which starts when the lowest thermocouple reading reaches the minimum cure temperature.What are the main autoclave and vacuum bag processing parameters ? Vacuum Used to remove air from the prepreg lay-up and provide a consolidating pressure for oven curing. a breather layer and applying a vacuum bag. Heat up rate The matrix. Pressure and/or vacuum should be maintained throughout the cooling period. flow.PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY E . Consolidation can be carried out overnight or during a natural break in the lay-up process. With large components a "heat search" may be necessary to indicate the heating characteristics of the component and tooling. The heat up rate selected should avoid large temperature differentials between the component and the heat source. Generally. The vacuum should be applied for 10-15 minutes at Room Temperature. should all reach and remain above the minimum cure temperature throughout the cure cycle. fast heating rates are possible for thin components and slow heating rates are used for large and thick components. reaction rates and component surface quality are all effected by the chosen heat up rates. component and tooling. Cooling rates Cooling cycles should be controlled to avoid a sudden temperature drop which may induce high thermal stresses in the component. Extended cure times at the recommended cure temperature do not normally have an adverse effect on the component quality. Most prepregs can be processed by a range of heat up rates.

avoids a large temperature differential between the air temperature and the component. G .F . Fibre volume is controlled. These absorb excess resin and become an integral part of the cured composite. For sandwich structures.What are the best processing methods for thicker industrial components ? For components up to 10 mm thick. The dry fabric layers must always overlap the prepreg stack to allow connection to the vacuum system. Dwell .What is the best cure cycle for thicker components ? To avoid exotherms it is advisable to incorporate a dwell and a controlled heat up rate. any dry fabric plies must be evenly distributed throughout the thickness of the component. eliminating any void content in the composite. any dry fabric plies must only be placed in the outer 2/3 of the skin. it is recommended to use internal bleed layers of dry fabric. Any accumulations of resin are prone to exotherm under these conditions. For monolithic structures. Controlled heat up rate . 19 . Excess matrix accumulating between the layers is absorbed. This procedure has the following advantages : • • • Notes : • • • Vacuum is easily distributed.used to equalise tool and component temperatures and to initiate a controlled prepreg cure.

03 37. I .0 1.0 ANALOGY BETWEEN AN I-BEAM AND A HONEYCOMB SANDWICH CONSTRUCTION Benefits of honeycomb sandwich : • Tensile and compression stresses are supported by the skins • Shearing stress is supported by the honeycomb • The skins are stable across their whole length • Rigidity in several directions • Exellent weight saving 20 . foam or balsa core.0 1.PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY H . A "self-adhesive" prepreg does not require additional adhesive layers and enables the production of light structures at reduced fabrication costs.What is a prepreg sandwich construction ? A sandwich contruction consists of thin high strength prepreg skins bonded to a thicker honeycomb.06 Stiffness Flexural strength Weight 1.5 1. durable. reduced production costs. design freedom.0 9. high stiffness.2 1. HONEYCOMB SANDWICH WITH PREPREG SKINS Prepreg skin Adhesive film (optional) Honeycomb (or foam) Adhesive film (optional) Prepreg skin Advantages : very low weight.0 3.What are the properties of a sandwich construction ? Solid material Core thickness t 2t Core thickness 3t t 4t 7.

press or vacuum bag moulding. for the vacuum bag curing of large components it may be necessary to lay-up and cure in two or more stages. For autoclave or press processing sandwich constructions can usually be laid up and cured as a single shot process. This will improve the quality of the component. 21 . However. ensuring against voids and telegraphing (where honeycomb cells are visible through the composite skins).J . Avoid excessive pressures which can lead to movement of the core.How is a sandwich construction produced ? SANDWICH CONSTRUCTION PROCESSING METHODS AUTOCLAVE VACUUM BAG PRESS To vacuum pump Core Prepreg Vaccum bag Breather fabric Perforated release film Seal Prepreg Release film RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE MANUFACTURE OF SANDWICH CONSTRUCTIONS Sandwich constructions can be manufactured by autoclave.

The matrix contributes mainly to the service temperature. but they can only approach the true isotropic nature of metals. and environmental resistance of the composite.What are the characteristics of a composite material ? The fibres in a composite are strong and stiff and support most of the applied loads.PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PROPERTIES OF FIBRE-REINFORCED COMPOSITES A . As a result unidirectional composites (UD) have predominant mechanical properties in one direction and are said to be anisotropic. Components made from fibre-reinforced composites can be designed so that the fibre orientation produces optimum mechanical properties. toughness. Fabric UD Equal properties Unequal properties Orientation The fibre directions can be arranged to meet specific mechanical performance requirements of the composite by varying the orientation. 0º 90º +45º -45º -45º +45º 90º 0º 90º 0º 0º 0º 0º 0º 0º 0º 0º 90º 0º 0º Quasi-isotropic lay-up Unidirectional lay-up 22 . Isotropic materials (most metals) have equal properties in all directions.

B . after conditioning at a selected temperature and time. Percentage weight loss of gaseous material from a weighed prepreg specimen. Cured ply thickness. which are influenced by temperature and heat up rates. Indicated by a rapid increase in matrix viscosity.What physio/chemical tests are made on prepregs before and after cure ? The following tests can be made to assess the quality of manufacture and suitability of prepregs for the composite manufacturing processes. Weight percentage of resin per unit area. Mass per unit volume g/cm3. at a given temperature. • Fibre volume • Composite density • Cure • Cpt See pages 28 and 29 for calculations. Assessment of prepreg advancement and cure characteristics. when the matrix progresses from liquid to solid. Uncured prepregs • Gel time The time. Verification of the correct quantity of formulation components. Measurement of the flow characteristics of matrices. Percentage of fibre by volume in the composite. (physicochemical test) • Viscosity • Volatiles • Flow • Tack • Resin content • Formulation Cured prepregs • Glass transition temperature (Tg) Tg is the temperature which marks a physical phase change in the matrix properties and gives an indication of its maximum service temperature. . A measurement of the capability of an uncured prepreg to adhere to itself and to mould surfaces. HEXCEL COMPOSITES 23 . Percentage weight loss of matrix from a weighed test specimen under agreed conditions of temperature and pressure.

b. ∆L 0º L = length • Compression modulus E E (MPa) = 90º L = extension Pr (N) Force Flexural • Flexural strength σ UD Fabric 0º 90º 0º Pr (N) Force L = length h = thickness σ (MPa) = • 3 Pr .PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY C . h3 . h . h ∆L +45º -45º Pr (N) Force υ = Poisson's ratio 24 .h Pr h = thickness L = length L = extension In-plane shear stress modulus G G (MPa) = 0. L b . h . b .h Pr .How are composites tested ? MECHANICAL TESTS ON MONOLITHIC STRUCTURES Each group shows the general specimen test configuration and formula. L b . 20 : 1 aramid .5 x • Pr b. lv3 E (MPa) = 4 . ∆f Span to thickness ratio 40 : 1 carbon . ∆L h = thickness L = length • Tensile modulus E E (MPa) = 90º Pr (N) Force L = extension Compression • Compression strength σ UD 0º Fabric Pr (N) Force b = width h = thickness σ (MPa) = Pr b.h In-plane shear • In-plane shear strength 0º 90º lv = support span Span to thickness ratio 5 : 1 b = width σ Pr (N) Force UD-Fabric σ (MPa) = 0.5 ∆Pr x (1 + υ) b .h Pr . 16 : 1 glass Shear (short beam) • Interlaminar shear strength σ UD Fabric Pr (N) Force L = length h = thickness 0º b = width σ (MPa) = 3 Pr 4. lv 2 b . h2 f = deflection lv = support span b = width Flexural modulus E Pr . Tensile • Tensile strength σ Pr (N) Force b = width UD 0º Fabric 0º σ (MPa) = Pr b.

The test is commonly used as a practical process control method in sandwich manufacturing.1124 lbf-in/3 in = 0.03747 lbf-in/in Flexible strip ø 1100 = D 1 Sandwich test piece ø 0125 = D 0 The climbing drum peel test measures the peel resistance of the bond between the flexible skin and the core of a sandwich structure. 25 .01671 daNcm/cm = 0.0127 Nm/76 mm = 0.MECHANICAL TESTS ON PREPREG SANDWICH CONSTRUCTIONS Climbing drum peel test Peel strength Fp Fp (N) = Fr . to monitor the cure and the bond quality.1671 Nm/m = 0.5 Core Fr 300 200 F0 Displacement To be eliminated Honeycomb ribbon direction 25 76±0.5 >12 To be eliminated 25% Peel length 100% 25% Dimensions in mm Peel torque Cp Cp (Nmm/mm) = Fp (D0 .D1) 2b Conversion factors : 1 Newton per 76 mm width = 0.2248 lbf/3 in = 0.F0 b = width 0.

7 2-3 W/m .44 2 26 .4 0. ºK 0.27 Fabric 900 850 90 90 0.5 1600 250 150 11 1400 140 95 4.4 0.5 550 40 45 2.13 UD 1100 35 60 8 0.2 250 150 75 5.Aramid) UD MPa MPa GPa GPa 1100 35 43 8 0.86 .0.5.3 .PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY TYPICAL MECHANICAL VALUES ON EPOXY PREPREG LAMINATES FIBRES t 90º E-GLASS UNITS ARAMID ll0º Volume content of fibres : HIGH STRENGTH INTERMEDIATE CARBON MODULUSCARBON ≈ 60 % (Carbon) ≈ 50 % (E-glass .1.4 Fabric .25 Fabric 800 750 70 65 0.28 Fabric 600 550 20 19 0.0.05 Tensile σl σt El Et Poisson's ratio υ l t Compression σ l σt El Et MPa MPa GPa GPa MPa GPa MPa GPa 900 150 42 10 1200 42 60 4 550 500 17 16 700 20 55 4.21 1 0.4 800 750 80 75 1200 75 80 5 Flexural σl E l In-plane shear σ lt G lt Interlaminar σ shear MPa 75 50 60 50 80 70 80 70 TYPICAL THERMAL PROPERTIES OF PREPREG LAMINATES Units UD Coefficient of expansion Thermal conductivity 10-6 / ºK 11 Glass Fabric 14 Aramid UD .2 High strength carbon UD Fabric 0.33 0.0.34 Fabric 500 450 30 30 0.16 .1 150 150 31 30 400 25 40 4 1300 250 115 10 1800 120 95 4.2 UD 2000 80 130 9 0.05 UD 2400 80 170 9 0.4 700 650 60 55 1000 65 80 5.

Provide positive dust extraction and collection from the cutting zone. These are available to company safety officers on request. The Safety Data Sheet should always be read and understood before the product is removed from its packaging. . the usual precautions when handling synthetic resins should be observed. Dust from products containing carbon fibre is electrically conductive. After removal from refrigerator storage. leak-free and spillage free. ready to use! B . Protect against fire and explosion by avoiding dust formation and ignition sources when machining cured product. prepreg should be allowed to reach room temperature before opening the polyethylene bag. Typically prepregs have a guaranteed shelf life at . uncured prepregs have no loose fibrous dust and are splash-free. thus avoiding skin contact with the product. thus preventing condensation (a full reel in its packaging can take up to 48 hours). always wear gloves and ensure arms are covered. It should be cut to shape before removing the protective coverings and virtually no handling of the prepreg is necessary. Repeated unprotected touching of prepreg can cause an allergic reaction. Tack life at 23 ºC depends on the matrix. .Prepregs are volatile-free at normal room temperature. ie. . Removal from cold storage Storage 3 months ≈ 24 hours Reaching room temperature Storage 1 year At room temperature. and is clearly defined on the relevant Product Data Sheet.18 ºC of 12 months.What health and safety precautions should be taken when handling prepregs ? Hexcel prepregs are particularly low-risk in terms of handling hazards for the following reasons : . Hexcel has prepared Safety Data Sheets for each product. where dry fibre and liquid resin are used.How should prepregs be stored ? Prepregs should be stored as received in a cool dry place or in a refrigerator.PREPREG STORAGE AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS A .Prepregs have a moderate/low tack level at normal room temperature. Dust from machining cured product will contain fibrous material. However.Unlike wet lay-up methods of fibre reinforced composite manufacture.Prepreg is covered on both sides by protective coverings which are not removed until assembly lay-up. 27 . inhalation of which should be avoided.

Cure the prepreg using recommended cure cycle.CALCULATIONS A . Weigh the best bleed pack and calculate the resin weight absorbed by each layer. 120 style glass fabric typically absorbs 50g/m 2 of epoxy resin (density ≈ 1.%Vf) ρr : Resin density (g/cm3) ρf : Fibre density (g/cm3) Np : Number of plies of prepreg in stack 28 . Examine the bleed packs and select the bleed pack with the optimum resin absorption from the test series.PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY APPENDIX I .Theoretical calculations of bleeder plies to make a composite laminate of selected fibre volume This method applies to carbon. Stage 1 • • Measure the absorbency of the bleed material : "A" Make a series of bleed-out tests where each test has the same prepreg stack (checked by weight). Individual tests should have an increasing number of bleed layers (also weighed g/m2 ) to absorb the resin. Determine the resin and fibre areal weights of the prepreg (g/m2 ) Calculate the number of bleed plies • • • Stage 2 Stage 3 = [ wr - x ( wfρxf ρrVf Vr )] Np x A Parameters : A wr wf Vf : Absorbency of bleed layer (g/m2 ) : Resin areal weight in prepreg (g/m2 ) : Fibre areal weight in prepreg (g/m2 ) : % fibre volume (selected) Vr : % resin volume (= 100 . glass or kevlar composite laminates made from either unidirectional or woven prepregs and uses any available bleed material.3).

Calculations for cured ply thickness.composite weight (liquid) x ρl 29 .see calculation below for fibre volume (method 1) Fibre volume % Parameters : wf wr = Vf : Fibre areal weight in prepreg (g/m2) : Resin areal weight in prepreg (g/m2) : Fibre density (g/cm3 ) : Resin density (g/cm3 ) Vf = ρf ρr method 1 no bleed ρf ( wr/ρrwf/wf/ρ f ) x 100 + method 2 from measured laminate thickness Vf = calculated cpt x fibre volume (used to calculate cpt) measured cpt Composite density = ρc Parameters : ρl : Liquid density (g/cm3 ) Archimedes principle ρc = composite weight (air) composite weight (air) . fibre volume and composite density Cured ply thickness (calculated) = cpt Parameters : wf : Fibre areal weight in prepreg (g/m2) : Fibre density (g/cm3 ) : Fibre volume (%) ρf Vf cpt = wf ρf x 10 x Vf Resin bleed required to achieve a cpt at a high fibre volume see calculation (A) No bleed will give the natural fibre volume .B .

8 35 30 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 Fibre volume content (%) EPOXY/ARAMID 65 60 Resin content (%) * 55 50 Matrix density Fibre density ➮ 1.Choice of prepreg resin content to achieve required fibre volume/cured ply thickness Having chosen the ideal fibre and matrix for your application. the following diagrams assist with the selection of resin content and fibre weight in a prepreg to obtain the desired fibre volumes and cured ply thicknesses. Fibre volumes EPOXY/E-GLASS 60 55 Resin content (%) * 50 45 Matrix density 40 Fibre density ➮ 1.2 ➮ 2.2 ➮ 1.PREPREG TECHNOLOGY PREPREG TECHNOLOGY AID TO PREPREG SELECTION C .2 ➮ 1.45 45 40 35 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 Fibre volume content (%) 30 .6 35 30 25 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 Fibre volume content (%) Bold lines demonstrate for a 40% resin content you have a fibre volume content of 42% EPOXY/HS CARBON 60 55 Resin content (%) * 50 45 Matrix density 40 Fibre density ➮ 1.

2 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 Fibre areal weight (g/m2) EPOXY/ARAMID 0.4 0.6 0.2 50 % fibre volume 60 % fibre volume 1 Cured ply (mm) 0.8 0.Cured ply thickness EPOXY/E-GLASS 0.2 0.6 Cured ply (mm) 0.1 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 Fibre areal weight (g/m2) Bold lines demonstrate for a 900g/m2 fibre areal weight you have a cured ply thickness of 0.4 0.3 0.7mm EPOXY/HS CARBON 1.7 50 % fibre volume 0.3 0.5 0.4 0.1 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500 Fibre areal weight (g/m2) 31 .5 0.7 50 % fibre volume Cured ply (mm) 0.2 0.8 0.6 0.

before making any commitment with regard to the information given. should check that it has not been superseded. for loss or damage attributable to reliance thereon. aramid and hybrids The information contained herein is believed to be the best available at the time of printing but is given without acceptance of liability. 32 . Hexcel manufactures a comprehensive range of composite materials.HEXCEL PRODUCT RANGE HexPly® is Hexcel's trademark for high performance prepregs. whether expressed or implied. RFI and LRI Redux® structural film adhesives HexWeb® aluminium and aramid honeycombs Hexlite® and Fibrelam® honeycomb sandwich boards Polyspeed® laminates Modipur® polyurethanes Fabrics. Users should make their own assessment of the technology's suitability for their own conditions of use and. multiaxials and braids in carbon. including : TowFlex® continuous fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites Resins and reinforcements for RTM. glass.PREPREG TECHNOLOGY APPENDIX II .

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