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viti~ Purr A 21A (1996) 417P484

Copyright <;: 1996 Elsevier Science Limited
Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved
1359-835X(95)00065-8 13S9-835X/96/$15.00

Influence of fibre length and concentration

on the properties of glass fibre-reinforced
polypropylene: 1. Tensile and flexural

J. L. Thomason* and M. A. Vlug

Shell Research B V, P 0 Box 38000, 1030 BN Amsterdam, The Netherlands
(Received 21 August 1995; revised 23 November 1995)

In this report we present the results from the first part of a study on the influence of fibre length (0.1.-50 mm)
and concentration (3-60% w/w) on the properties of glass-reinforced polypropylene laminates. These
laminates were prepared in the laboratory using a wet deposition method, and are compared with samples
prepared on a commercial melt-impregnation GMT line. We found that laminate stiffness increased linearly
with fibre concentration up to 40% w/w. However, stiffness was virtually independent of fibre length above
0.5 mm. Predictions of tensile modulus using the Cox model correlated well with the experimental data.
High concentrations of long fibres (>40% w/w) resulted in fibre packing problems and an increase in void
content which lead to a reduction in modulus. The matrix molecular weight and the fibre-sizing
compatibility had little effect on the laminate stiffness.

(Keywords: glass fibres; polypropylene; thermoplastic composite; fibre length; fibre concentration; mechanical properties)

INTRODUCTION which can be prepared by melt impregnation of

non-woven glass mats (dry route) or by mixing chopped
During the past few years the growth in the use fibre with polymer powder in a fluid medium followed
of structural composites has resulted in the need for by straining, drying and consolidation (wet route);
higher output manufacturing processes than have 2) high speed thermoplastic pultrusion of structural
been used previously. This has provided the impetus profiles, sheets/tapes, and pellets for injection
for the development of techniques to produce long fibre- moulding; and
reinforced thermoplastic matrix composites which pos- 3) long fibre-reinforced injection moulding pellets
sess both high performance and mass processability. prepared by wirecoating, crosshead extrusion, or
Thermoplastic matrix composites also offer other prop- thermoplastic pultrusion techniques.
erty advantages such as enhanced toughness and an
unlimited shelf-life. Furthermore, their intrinsic recycl- High performance levels can only be obtained from a
ability is increasingly being recognised as a strong composite part with high fibre concentrations and if the
driving force for their further application. reinforcing fibres in the final product have a sufficiently
Their potential for high-volume processing combined high aspect ratio (length/diameter). However, the
with high end-use property levels and associated lower demands of mass production are often in conflict with
manufacturing costs have spurred the current expansion the retention of high aspect ratios and the use of high
of research and development activities on thermoplastic fibre concentrations7P’3. It is therefore vital to be able to
matrix composites. In particular, the following three set appropriate targets for the desired fibre concentration
areas have recently received much attention1P’3: and the fibre aspect ratio in a composite part.
Models for the prediction of composite stiffness.
1) random, in-plane, fibre-reinforced thermoplastic sheets strength, and impact properties, based on the theories of
(better known as glass mat thermoplastic or GMT) Cox, Kelly and Tyson, and Cottrell, are available’4P1”.
Using these it is possible to define a number of ‘critical’
fibre aspect ratios; however, these do not normally
*To whom correspondence should be addressed at Owens-Corning
Science and Technology Center, 2790 Columbus Road, Granville. coincide (see Figure f). Unfortunately, only the model
Ohio. USA for the prediction of composite stiffness has been well

Properties of glass fibre-reinforced PP. 1: J. L. Thomason and M. A. Vlug

Normalised Value length were determined using the single-fibre pull-out

test. Furthermore, the properties of the fibreematrix
interface region were varied by using two different fibre
types. In the second series of samples the effect of
processing on fibre degradation was modelled by
extrusion of wet deposited material prior to compression
moulding. In this second series, a much higher molecular
weight polypropylene was used, and so comparison with
the first data set also gives information on the effect of
the matrix properties on composites properties. Finally,
the properties of a series of GMTs (where the fibre
1 10 100 1000 10000
length is in the range of 25-50mm) prepared on a
Fibre Length/Diameter
commercial (melt impregnation) line using a range of
Figure 1 Normalized theoretical properties of a 30% w/w unidirec- different glass fibres have been measured and compared
tional glass fibre/polypropylene composite, showing ‘critical aspect with the results obtained from the laboratory-made wet
ratios’ for stiffness, strength and impact
deposited samples. In this first report we present results
on the measurement of laminate tensile and flexural
verified. Comprehensive experimental data relating fibre stiffness at room temperature and compare these data
concentration and aspect ratio with composite strength with theoretical predictions. Future reports will also deal
and impact properties are not currently available. With with the thermal, strength and impact properties”.“.
regard to the effect of fibre aspect ratio on the processing
of these materials there are even fewer data available in
the literature, although it is generally accepted that EXPERIMENTAL
processing becomes more difficult as fibre concentration
and aspect ratio increase. It is therefore by no means Two series of random, in-plane, fibre-reinforced poly-
clear from theoretical considerations whether an opti- propylene laminates were prepared by a wet deposition
mum fibre length exists that gives the best property process. The preweighed amounts of fibres and PP
balance to a composite containing discontinuous fibres. powder and 1 cm3 of a non-ionic dispersion aid (Triton
A significant factor in this problem is the lack of X-45) were stirred in 20 1 of demineralized water for 30 s
experimental results on composite properties as a and then strained through a nylon sieve. The resultant
function of volume fraction and fibre length. Although wet sheets were predried in a press between filter papers
the fibre volume fraction is simple to control, this is not and later thoroughly dried in a vacuum oven at 60” C for
the case for the fibre length, principally because most at least 24 h. These sheets were consolidated in a
thermoplastic composite preparation routes lead to hydraulic press by heating to 205” C for 30s and then
significant uncontrolled degradation of the fibre quench cooling in a second cold press. Pressures were
length7-13 and also because there is a limit to the kept as low as possible during consolidation. The
maximum aspect ratio of the fibres at a particular volume consolidated sheets were cut and stacked in a
fraction17. 15 x 15 cm mould. The mould was preheated to 205” C
We have been investigating the properties of glass in the press for 45 min at low pressure; 6 bar pressure was
fibre-reinforced polypropylene composites prepared by then applied for 5min. The mould with laminate was
the ‘papermaking’ route which is, in principle, a fibre then quenched cooled under 6 bar pressure in a second
friendly composite production method. The results cold press.
presented in this series of papers are an integration of Series A was prepared using fibres varying in
three projects in this area. The first involved the length from approximately 0.1 to 12mm and weight
measurement of a wide range of properties of wet fractions from 3 to 60%. The polypropylene was Shell
deposited glass fibre-reinforced polypropylene laminates TY6500 (melt flow index = 15 g/l0 min, M, = 31.9 kg/
with fibre lengths of O.l-12mm, fibre concentrations of idol, M, = 332 kg/mol) and the glass fibres, supplied by
3-60% w/w and a relatively low molecular weight PPG Industries Fiber Glass BV (at that time Silenka
polypropylene. The properties determined include, ten- BV), ‘8031’chopped fibres with a water dispersible sizing
sile and flexural strength and modulus, notched Charpy which is not optimized for interaction with polypropy-
impact (principally at 23 and -30” C, but in some cases lene. The fibre lengths supplied were 3,4.5,6 and 12mm,
over the temperature range -50 up to 40” C), tensile shorter fibres were obtained by cutting to approximately
impact and high speed impact properties at room 1 mm length and very short fibres were obtained by ball
temperature, heat deflection temperature, thermal milling 12 mm fibres. The fibre length distribution in the
expansion coefficient, and dynamic mechanical storage laminates was measured after the samples had been
and loss modulus between -100 and 200” C. As the tested and an average fibre length of 0.79 and 0.09mm
impact properties and the strength of the composite are respectively, was found for these two fibres. The
dependent on the nature of the fibre-matrix interface, influence of the sizing was investigated by preparing
the level of fibre-matrix adhesion and the critical fibre laminates with a development product from PPG, ‘8394’

Properties of glass fibre-reinforced PP. 1: J. L. Thomason and M. A. Vlug

4.5mm glass fibres at a single concentration (30% Tensile Modulus (GPa)

Length (mm)
Series B laminates were prepared to investigate the
+O.I x0.8 *3 +4.5 0 4.5* *6 +~12
effect of the matrix properties and to further compare the 8
influence of fibre length. These samples were also
prepared by wet deposition using 6mm PPG 8031
fibres and Shell KY6100 polypropylene (melt flow .
index = 3 g/l0 min, M, = 82.7 kg/mol, M, = 332 kg/ ??
mol). In addition to the standard compression moulding 6
of 6mm long fibre-reinforced samples, a number of
samples were prepared with fibre lengths typical of
injected moulding but with the random fibre orientation
of compression moulded sheets. Wet deposited sheets
were cut into 1Omm wide strips and granulated into
pieces measuring approximately 10 x 6 x 0.6mm. These
were then extruded using a Plamvo extruder
(5.5 rev min -I, four temperature zones at 180, 220, 230.
240’ C, mass temperature 220” C, compression ratio 1 : 4.
nozzle diameter 2.85mm), cooled and granulated. The
resultant granules were prepressed into thin sheets at
230’ C, and these sheets were used in a similar fashion to
the consolidated wet deposited sheets for preparation of 20 30 40 50 60
test plaques. In this series, samples with both long (6 mm) Fibre Content ( 96 w/w)
and short fibres were prepared with 5, 10, 15 and 20% v/v
Figure 2 Series A tensile modulus wrsus fibre concentration
of glass. The corresponding average fibre lengths in the (‘-8394 fibre)
extruded samples was found to be 430, 350, 190 and
Flexural Modulus (GPa)
A number of GMT samples prepared on a commercial 7,
GMT line have also been included in this study for
comparison. These were prepared using a number of
different glass fibres and different polypropylene-based 6- A
matrices. However, full details of these materials cannot /’
be released due to their commercially sensitive nature.
Samples for tensile testing were cut from plaques which
had been flow moulded from two molton crossed GMT
blanks (20 x 20 cm) in a 30 x 30 cm mould at 65” C and
150 bar. Tensile properties were determined following
the ISO/R527-1966(E) standard using an Instron 1195
testing machine at a crosshead speed of 1 mmmin-‘.
Standard ‘dogbone’ samples (type 1) with dimensions
170 x 10 x 2 mm were used. Flexural properties were
determined following ISO/ 78-l 975(E) standard using
an Instron 1195 testing machine at a crosshead speed of
2. rti
2 mm min-‘. Samples with dimensions 80 x 10 x 4mm
and a supporting span of 60mm were used. Number- Length (mm)
average fibre lengths were calculated from a minimum of +o.l x 0.6 r-3 +4.5 * 4.5* *6 +12
I- 1 ,,
1000 length measurements on fibres recovered from
-0 10 20 30 40 50 :o
incineration of composite samples.
Fibre content (% w/w)

Figure 3 Series A flexural modulus versus fibre concentration


Laminate stij$es.s
under study and only shows a significant drop for the
The results for the tensile and flexural moduli as a laminates containing milled fibres (L = 0.09 mm). The
function of fibre concentration of series A are shown in sample containing 60% fibres is also somewhat lower
Figures 2 and 3. It can be seen that the stiffness of these than the trend, particularly in the flexural modulus plot.
laminates increases almost linearly with increasing fibre The sample with the polypropylene (PP) optimized sizing
concentration. Furthermore, the laminate stiffness is shows no significant improvement in stiffness. The
practically independent of fibre length in the region deviation at high fibre concentrations may be due to

Properties of glass fibre-reinforced PP. 1: J. L. Thomason and M. A. Vlug

fibre packing considerations. As fibres are laid down

randomly in a plane, the probability of fibres crossing
each other and thus being oriented out of plane increases
as the fibre length and concentration are increased. This
will result in a lower stiffness in the X-Y (testing
direction) plane and a subsequent increase in stiffness in
the Z-direction. Furthermore, these out-of-plane
oriented fibres will be bent during the compression
moulding process. It is known that the effect of these 6
bent and out-of-plane oriented fibres is more pro-
nounced in compression testing than in tensile testing2’
(where there is a ‘self-correcting’ factor due to the test
configuration). Since the sample experiences both the
compressive and tensile forces during a flexural test, this
may explain the greater sensitivity of the flexural data to
this phenomenon. The lower stiffness obtained with the
very short fibres is in line with theoretical expectations (as
discussed below). The fact that optimization of the sizing
does not lead to an improvement in stiffness might at first
be thought unexpected. However, it is known that the
initial modulus of a composite is determined primarily by 1 / / /
the elastic properties of the constituents and, theoretically 0 10 20 30 40 50 60
(assuming perfect wetting), is not affected by the level of Fibre Content ( % w/w)
the fibre-matrix adhesion. The effects of the sizing were, Figure 4 Series B tensile modulus WYSUSfibre concentration
however, seen clearly in the ultimate properties of these
laminates’8’19. When plotted as a function of fibre
volume fraction, the data in Figures 2 and 3 could be 7 Flexural Modulus (GPa)
fitted with a simple ‘rule-of-mixtures’ line which gave the
fibre stiffness (Er) as 74 GPa in tension and 65 GPa in
flexure. We have also observed this apparently low
flexure value of Ef in pultruded glass fibre-polypropylene
The results for the series B samples (with the higher
molecular weight matrix) are compared with those of
series A in Figures 4 and 5. It can be seen that the samples
containing the 6 mm fibres from both series A and B fall
on the same line, indicating that the stiffness of these
laminates is not sensitive to the molecular weight of the
PP matrix. This insensitivity to PP properties, in
particular to the large difference in melt viscosity, is a
reflection of the sample production technique. The wet
deposition technique gives and excellent mixing of
polymer powder and fibres which, upon heating, requires
only localized flow of the molten polymer to obtain
excellent impregnation. This is in contrast to the
+ A-O.1 X A-O.8 *A-6 -k B-at Q B-6
production of GMT by large-scale impregnation of 1, 1, I, 1,
dense fibre mats by polymer melt pressed into the mat4. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60
In this case the level of impregnation and void content Fibre content (% w/w)
are very dependent on the PP melt viscosity. The effect of
fibre length can also be seen more clearly in Figures 4 and Figure 5 Series B flexural modulus wsus fibre concentration

5. The trend for the series B pre-extruded samples

(L = 0.2-0.5mm) is much lower than that for the 6 mm poorer fibre distribution and impregnation obtained in
fibres and, in fact, falls between the 0.09 mm and 0.8 mm the melt flow process. However, the data follow the same
samples of series A. trend as observed above and emphasize the fact that, at
The results for the tensile moduli of the GMT samples high fibre lengths (25-50mm in GMT), the laminate
(series C) are compared with series A results and stiffness is apparently independent of fibre length.
commercial GMT data in Figure 6. It can be seen that Ericson and Berglund also noted that GMT produced
the GMT shows a wider spread in the results than the by the melt impregnation technique had a lower stiffness
laboratory-prepared samples. This probably reflects a than GMT made by the papermaking technique22. They

Properties of glass fibre-reinforced PP. 1: J. L. Thomason and M. A. Vlug

Tensile Modulus IGPaj and

where L is the fibre length, G, is the shear modulus of the

matrix, r is the fibre radius and R is related to the mean
spacing of the fibres. The r/R factor can be related to the
fibre volume fraction Vf by
in(m) = ln(dm)

where Xi depends on the geometrical packing

arrangement of the fibres. It is at this point that we
find some confusion in the literature, which we further
discuss in the Appendix. In our calculations we have used
the value Xj = 4.0 appropriate for square packing of the
fibres. Krenchel extended this theory to take fibre
orientation into account by adding a fibre orientation
factor 77,into the ‘rule-of-mixtures’ equation giving
EC = q,q VfEf + ( 1 - LTf)Em (5)
0 10 20 30 40 50 60
Fibre Content ( % w/w) For the random in-plane orientation of the fibres in our
samples it can be shown that q0 = 0.375 (refs 23 and 24).
Figure 6 GMT tensile modulus YPI.FUS
fibre concentration
The tensile experimental data from series A are
compared with Cox-Krenchel theoretical predictions
suggested that this was due to the presence of fibre in Figure 7. where the following input parameters have
bundles in the former which resulted in a reinforcement been used: Ef = 75 GPa, Epp = 1.6 GPa, Gpp =
with a much lower aspect ratio and effective stiffness than Epp/2( 1 + v). Above L = 0.5 mm the agreement between
well dispersed fibres, consequently giving a lower laminate theory and experiment is excellent up to fibre concentra-
stiffness. tions of 40% w/w. As previously noted, the stiffness of
the 60% w/w sample fell below the experimental trend
Modelling of the tensile modulus and also falls well below the theoretical prediction. As
The most commonly used theory used to model the discussed above there are a number of explanations for
stiffness of this type of composite was developed by COX’~
and further improved by Krenchelz3 and has been
reviewed by a number of authors 22,24-24 Although these Tensile Modulus (GPa)
equations are well known to most in this field, we show 11 I
them here because we have noted a small but significant
difference in the presentation of the equations by different
authors. Cox’s ‘shear lag’model was developed for aligned
discontinuous elastic fibres in an elastic matrix. The
applied load is transferred from the matrix to the fibre
via interfacial shear stresses, with the maximum shear at
the fibre ends decreasing to zero at the centre. Thus the
tensile stress in the fibre is zero at the ends and maximum
in the middle. However, the maximum tensile stress along
the length of the fibre can never exceed the tensile stress in
the matrix. Thus, although the efficiency of stress transfer
increases with fibre length, it can never reach 100%. In
order to accommodate this dependence of reinforcement
efficiency on fibre length, Cox introduced a fibre length
efficiency factor ~1 into the ‘rule-of-mixtures’ equation for
the composite modulus E,.
EC = q1vfEf = ( 1 - Vf), (1)
where Ef, E, and Vf are the fibre and matrix stiffnesses
and the fibre volume fraction, respectively. The ‘shear
lag’ theory developed by Cox gives A.01
I ,1,,,,,, 0.1 ,,,,,, 1 10
Fibre Length (mm)
I Figure 7 Comparison of series A tensile modulus and Cox model

Properties of glass fibre-reinforced PP. 1: J. L. Thomason and M. A. Vlug

bnsile Modulus (GPa) (3-D) random and two-dimensional (2-D) random,


% vlv fibrt
in-plane, injection-moulded SMC composites”. They
showed that, for the aspect ratio range of our 3-12mm
fibres (L/d approximately 300-l 100) the maximum
achievable volume fraction in a 2-D random in-plane is
18820% v/v. They stated that if the laminate volume
fraction is greater than this, then the aspect ratio must
decrease to allow the fibres to pack into the available
space. Using their results we estimate that our 60% w/w
A 10
sample would have a maximum allowable fibre length of
approximately 0.8mm. If we use this value in the Cox
model then we get a theoretical modulus of 9.9 GPa,
which is still significantly higher than the measured
value. Furthermore, we found no significant reduction of
the fibre length in this sample.
We postulate that a different mechanism is at work in
these wet deposited laminates. Due to the mild prepara-
0.1 1 10 tion conditions of these samples, it is not the aspect ratio
Fibre Length (mm) that is reduced but the void content that is increased
when the maximum fibre volume fraction is exceeded, i.e.
Figure 8 Comparison of series B tensile modulus and Cox model
there is insufficient matrix available to fill the gaps
between the fibres. To check this hypothesis, we
Tensile Modulus (GPa) calculated the density of the flexural test bars from
g / their weight and dimensions. Using pf = 2620 kg rnp3
/ I
i and pm = 90.5kgmp3 we then calculated the void
contents3’, and the results are shown in Table 1. Given
the relative coarseness of the density measurement we
can say that the void content of all samples, except the
60% w/w, is the same and approximately zero. However,
the 60% w/w sample has a void content of 22%. This
sample significantly lowers the actual fibre volume fraction of
. A-IO
the sample and the relative stiffness of the matrix. If we
A A-20
use the actual fibre volume fraction (26.8% in place of
c A-30’
34.4%) and a reduced matrix stiffness (rule of mixtures
+ A-30 gives 1.12 GPa) then we get a calculated stiffness value of
v A-40 8.3PGa for this sample. It can be seen that, with this
Q A-60 value, the 60% w/w sample falls back onto the line in
0 B-6 Figure 9.
* B-ext

3 5 7 9 11 Table 1 Void content of flexural modulus bars

Cox Model Prediction (GPa) Fibre Flexural bar density (kg m-‘) Void Fibre
content content
Figure 9 Tensile modulus versus Cox mode1 predictions
Length % w/w Measured Calculated Ratio (Xv/v) (% v/v)

0.09 25 1070 1080 0.99 1.2 10.2

this deviation, e.g. out-of-plane oriented or bent fibres, 0.79 30 1110 1125 0.98 1.6 12.8
but also increased fibre breakage at cross-over points and 3 20 1010 1040 0.97 2.8 7.8
an increased void content, all of which are related to the 30 1120 1125 1.oo 0.1 13.0
40 1230 1230 1.oo 0.0 18.9
problem of packing high fractions of long fibres into a
restricted volume. The data from series B are compared 4.5 20 1030 1040 0.99 0.7 8.0
40 1200 1220 0.98 2.1 18.4
with the theoretical predictions in Figure 8; the agree-
6 10 971 968 1.oo -0.3 3.7
ment here is also good. This agreement of the experi- 8.0
20 1040 1040 1.00 0.0
mental data with the model predictions can be better seen 25 1065 1080 0.98 1.5 10.2
in Figure 10 where theoretical values have been 30 1125 1125 1.oo 0.0 13.0
40 1210 1220 0.99 0.8 18.7
calculated for the individual samples. Most of the data 26.8
60 1160 1490 0.78 21.8
fall on a line with a slope of unity.
12 10 962 968 0.99 0.7 3.7
The deviation of the 60% w/w sample is clearly seen 20 1020 1040 0.98 1.7 7.9
again in Figure 9. Gibson and Payne have considered 25 1060 1080 0.98 2.0 10.2
the relationship between maximum achievable volume 30 1100 1125 0.98 2.4 12.7
40 1180 1225 0.97 3.4 18.2
fraction and fibre aspect ratio for both three-dimensional

Properties of glass fibre-reinforced PP. 1: J. L. Thomason and M. A. Vlug

CONCLUSIONS PA66:PP blends. Plrr.cric~ Ruhher C’ompos. Prows.c. ilppiic.

1995. 23, 63
13 Yu. Z.. Brisson, J. and Ait-Kadi A. Prediction of mechanical
This study has revealed that, for random, in-plane, glass properties of short Kevlar fiber-Nylon-6.6 composites. Po/w~.
fibre-reinforced polypropylene laminates, the modulus Compos. 1994. 15, 64
I4 Cox. H. L. The elasticity and strength of paper and other fibrous
of these laminates increases linearly with fibre content up materials. Br. J. A/$. Phjx. 1952. 3, 72
to 40%~:~. Above 40% w/w modulus improvement I.5 Kelly. A. and Tyson. W. R. Tensile propertics oftibre-reinforced
is considerably less, possibly related to fibre packing metals. J. .44&. Phj3.v.Solids 1965. 13. 329
16 Cottrcll. A. H. Strong solids. Proc R~,I SW. 1964. A2S2, 2
problems resulting in increasing void content and out- I7 Gibson, A. G. and Payne. D. J. Flexural and impact strength
of-plane fibre orientation. Modulus is practically improvement in injection moulded SMC. <‘orn/~~ritc~.s1989. 20,
independent of fibre length above 0.5mm. however the 151
I8 Thomason. J. L. and Vlug. M. A. Influence of fibrc length and
fibre length is an important factor in determining the concentration on the properties of glass tibrc-reinforced poly-
concentration at which fibre packing problems manifest propylene: 3. Strength and strain at failure. Compo.cite.c sub-
themselves. The molecular weight of the polypropylene mitted
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apparent effect on the laminate stiffness. Excellent propylene: 4. Impact properties. Con~pa.srtc,s submitted
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over the range of fibre lengths and concentrations 21 Thomason. J. L. and Schoolenberg. G. E. An investigation of
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composite properties. Composrrc~s 1994, 25, ! 97
22 Ericson, M. and Berglund. L. Deformation and fracture of
glass-mat-reinforced polypropylene. CO~XU. Si. Techmd.
23 Krenchei , H. in ‘Fibre Reinforcement‘. Akademisk Forlag.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of
Copenhagen. 1964
Symalit AG for the preparation of the GMT samples, 24 Folkes. M. J. in Short Fibre Reinforced Thermoplastics’.
PPG Industries Fiber Glass BV for supplying the glass Research Studies Press. Chichester. 1985. p. 16
25 Bailey. R. S.. Davies, M. and Moore, D. R. Processing-property
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characteristics for long glass fibre reinforced polyamide. Connpo-
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26 Rosenthal, J. A model for determining fiber reinforcement cffi-
ciencies and tiber orientation in polymer composites. Pow.
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4 Bigg, D. M. Manufacturing methods for long fibre reinforced APPENDIX
polypropylene sheets and laminates. In ‘Polypropylene: Struc-
ture. Blends and Composites’ (Ed. J. Karger-Kocsis), Chapman
and Hall, London, 1995, Ch. 3.7 There appears to be some confusion in the literature as to
5 Jung. N. E. Glass mat thermoplastics: semi-finished materials the value of R in the r/R factor used in the shear lag
for the automotive, machine and electrical sectors. Cornpos.
theory. If we assume that R is the mean centre-to-centre
Polv. 1989, 2, 394
6 Chen-Chi. M. M., Mang-Sang, Y., Chen, C. H. and Chiang, C. L. spacing of the fibres’4,‘2.‘4-26, then for the Xi factor in
Processing and properties of pultruded thermoplastic equation (4) we obtain X, = 1.O for square-packed fibres
composites. Composites Manctftictuving 1990, 1, 196
and X, = 0.866 for hexagonal packing. However, if we
7 Fisa, B. Mechanical degradation of glass fibres during com-
pounding with polypropylene. Polym. Compos. 1985, 6, 232 assume that the mean centre-to-centre fibre spacing is
8 Franzen, B., Klason, C., Kubat, J. and Kitano, T. Fibre degra- 2R, then2’-19 we obtain X, = 4.0 and X, = 3.464 (i.e. a
dation during processing of short fibre reinforced
factor of four difference). Figure 10 shows ,O (for glass
thermoplastics. Composites 1989. 20, 65
9 Gore, C. R. Long fibre reinforced thermoplastic injection polypropylene) as a function of fibre aspect ratio for
moulding compounds. Compos. Polym. 1988, 1, 280 X, = 0.866 and furthermore the ratios of p,//?, and
IO Bailey, R. S. and Kraft, H. A study of fibre attrition in the
/3bs/&. The plot of B versus aspect ratio is well known,
processing of long fibre reinforced thermoplastics. Inr. Po/ym.
Proces.c 1987. 2, 94 approaching zero at low aspect ratios and unity at high
II Vu-Khanh, T., Denault, J., Habib, P. and Low, A. The effects of aspect ratios. It can also be seen that the difference
injection moulding on the mechanical behaviour of long-fibre
between hexagonal and square packing is very small,
reinforced PBT/PET blends. Compos. Sci. Technoi. 1991,40,423
I2 Harmia, T. and Friedrich, K. Mechanical and thermomech- with &/,@, approximately unity over the whole aspect
anical properties of discontinuous long glass fiber reinforced ratio range. However, fl is changed significantly at low

Properties of glass fibre-reinforced PP. 1: J. L. Thomason and M. A. Vlug

Beta or Beta Ratio. aspect ratios when A’, = 4.0 is usei li.e by assuming the
fibre spacing is 2R). We see that j34s//3htends to the value
of 2 at low aspect ratios, which means a prediction of
higher stiffness at short fibre lengths. This will also affect
the prediction of ‘critical’ fibre length (often defined as
the fibre length at which p attains a fixed fraction of the
asymptotic value). It is easy to see how some confusion
could arise in the definition of the fibre spacing when the
symbol R is used. In our calculations we have assumed
that R is the radius of influence of a single fibre and that
the interfibre spacing is therefore 2R.

Figure 10 Cox model p factors versus fibre aspect ratio