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ICAMB 2012, Jan 9-11, 2012

Mechanical Characterization Studies on Thermoplastic Composite Laminates


S. Suresh and V. S. Senthil Kumar

Abstract Environmental and safety pressures are driving trends


for the use of lightweight materials in aerospace, defense and automotive industries due to their high impact and toughness performance. Novel innovative lightweight materials like thermoplastic composites have the potential to replace traditional materials, such as metals and thermoset composites for structural applications. Recently, the rapid growth of fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites having a unique combination of high performance and processing advantages at low cost has occurred. But the thermoplastic composites find larger limitations for applications because of their high melt viscosities which lead to improper impregnation of matrix with fiber. Hence, it is important to find an efficient and cost effective manufacturing process, and to characterize the mechanical properties of the manufactured composite laminates. This paper reveals the influence of fabric orientations during film stacking on the mechanical behavior of woven glass fabric composites. In this study, the laminates with different lay-ups of glass fabrics were fabricated and their mechanical properties were measured. Further this paper discusses a comparison of the tensile, flexural, shear and impact properties of two types of woven fabric reinforced thermoplastics composites. Optical micrographs of the laminate show the nature of bonding between fiber and matrix.

KeywordsThermoplastic characterization, film stacking

composites,

Mechanical

I. INTRODUCTION

HE existing thermoset composites developed for aerospace applications, which were mainly based on epoxy resin systems, have proved to be more brittle than the end-users desired. On the other hand, thermoplastic composites can be softened and shaped when heated, if necessary many times over, without chemical degradation. Fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites (FRTP) offer improvements in mechanical properties over unreinforced ones. The mechanical properties of thermoplastic composites containing continuous fibres have been the subject of much attention. Variables such as fibre ratio, diameter, length, orientation and the interfacial strength are of prime importance to the final properties of the thermoplastic composites [1].

These composites compete with metals in many engineering applications because of their ease of fabrication, light weight and economy. However, there are problems concerning material defects such as voids or cracks that may be present or initiated in one of three regions: the matrix, the fibre or the fibre/matrix interface [1]. The main difficulty in processing of FRTP is due to high melt viscosity and poor wettability of fibers with thermoplastics. Hence, development of a suitable process and characterization of resultant composites becomes vital for their usage [2]. Hence, recent attention has focused on thermoplastic-based composites since they offer a number of advantages such as rapid manufacturing and recyclability [3]. Reference [4] discussed the tensile behaviors of woven fabrics and laminates and showed that the strength of the multi-layer laminates was proportional to the increased number of layers. The mechanical behavior of glass-fiber reinforced thermoplastic materials under high strain rates has been studied in [5]. Reference [6] described the characterization of long fiber thermoplastic/metal laminates. The influence of coupling agents on the mechanical properties of FRTP Composites has been shown in [7]. The effects of laminate sequencing on thermoforming of thermoplastic matrix composites have been investigated in [8]. Reference [9] studied the in-plane shear behavior of woven thermoplastic composites over a range of processing temperatures by biastest experiments at different velocities. In this experimental work, the mechanical behavior of woven glass fabric reinforced polypropylene (GF/PP) composite laminates frequently used in the automobile industry were studied. In order to investigate the influence of glass fabric orientation, a series of uniaxial tensile, flexural, shear and impact tests were carried out on 53wt% GF/PP composite laminates. II. MATERIALS Polypropylene (PP) in the form of 0.5mm thick film is selected as the matrix and the glass fiber (GF) woven fabric (610 gsm) is used as reinforcement for thermoplastic composite. The properties of the materials are given in the Table I [10], [11].

F. A. S.Suresh, Research Scholar, is with the College of Engineering, Guindy, AU, Chennai 600 025, TN, India (e-mail: deva.suresh78@gmail.com). S. B. V.S.Senthil Kumar, Associate Prof., is with the College of Engineering, Guindy, AU, Chennai 600 025, TN, India (corresponding author to provide phone: 944-495-2438; fax: 044-2220-3255; e-mail: vsskumar@annauniv.edu).

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ICAMB 2012, Jan 9-11, 2012


TABLE I PROPERTIES OF MATERIALS Properties Density Tensile strength Tensile modulus Yield stress Raw Materials Polypropylene Glass fibre 0.936 g/cm3 2.55 g/ cm3 39.5 MPa 1750 MPa 2 GPa 70 GPa 36.5 MPa ---

tests were conducted at a crosshead speed of 1.5 mm/min with the load and displacement data being recorded.

III. EXPERIMENTAL SETUP Film stacking process is used to prepare alternate layers of PP film and glass fabric with different orientations and hot compression molding technique is used for the fabrication of FRTP composite laminates. Glass fabric with [0/90] and [45] layups were used to fabricate two different types of FRTP composite laminates. The stacked alternate layers of PP film and glass fabric were placed in between platens of 100 ton hydraulic press which is shown in Fig. 1. The platens were closed with stacked materials and electrically heated to the temperature of 190C. During heating, the molten matrix may stick to the contact surface of heated platens. In order to avoid this, it is advisable to sandwich them between Aluminum foils which will enhance the quality of the surface finish of the final thermoplastic composites. Afterwards, the pressure was applied gradually up to 100 bar for 10 min. Then, the material was allowed to cool in the mold to room temperature. The laminates were prepared with 300mm300mm size.
Fig.1. Hydraulic Press Fig.2. Tensile test specimen

B. Flexural test To study the flexural behavior of thermoplastic composite laminates, the specimens were prepared according to ASTM D790 and subjected to 3 point bend flexural test. The rectangular flexural test specimen is shown in Fig. 3. The specimens were placed in a UTM and tests were conducted at a crosshead speed of 1.5 mm/min.

Fig.3. test specimen

Flexural

IV. MECHANICAL CHARACTERIZATION The fabricated [0/90] and [45] layup glass fiber reinforced PP composite laminates were tested for tensile, flexural, shear and impact properties. As there is not yet a valid standard for the reinforced plastics, the specimens were selected according to ASTM D 638, ASTM D 790, ASTM D 2344 and ASTM D 256 procedures. Burn test was conducted to identify the wt.% of glass fibre in the TP composite. The investigations were carried out with a 5 ton universal testing machine. For the tests, the load was measured by means of an electronic load cell, and the displacement was measured by a linear variable differential transformer (LVDT). The experiments were performed at 1.5mm/min strain rate. A. Tensile test To study the tensile behavior of both types of thermoplastic composite laminates, the tensile tests were conducted. A typical dog-bone-shaped tensile specimen prepared according to ASTM D638 is shown in Fig. 2. The specimens were placed in a screw-driven universal testing machine and
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C. Shear test To study the shear behavior of thermoplastic composite laminates, the specimens were prepared according to ASTM D2344 and subjected to single point interlaminar shear test. The rectangular shear test specimen is shown in Fig. 4. The specimens were placed in a UTM and tests were conducted at a crosshead speed of 1.5 mm/min.
Fig.4. Shear test specimen

D. Impact test To study the impact behavior of thermoplastic composite laminates, the specimens were prepared according to ASTM D256 and subjected to impact test. The impact test specimen is shown in Fig. 5. Charpy V Notch tests were performed on the test specimens using Impact testing machine.
Fig.5. Impact test specimen

E. Optical micrographs Optical micrograph is used to investigate the nature of bonding between the glass fabric and PP. The Fig. 6 shows the 21

ICAMB 2012, Jan 9-11, 2012 effective bonding between GF and PP before the deformation whereas the Fig. 7 shows the bonding after the deformation. From the optical micrographs, it is evident that the bonding strength between the constituent materials is very low due to improper impregnation of PP over GF. This leads to poor mechanical properties of FRTP composite laminate.
TABLE II TENSILE PROPERTIES Properties Tensile strength Yield strength Tensile Modulus % Elongation GF/PP Composite [0/90] Layup [45] Layup 90 MPa 19.2 MPa 45 MPa 10.3 MPa 0.38 GPa 0.17 GPa 36.5 32

composite laminate. Table II presents the testing results.

Fig.6. Bonding before the deformation

Fig.8. Stress-strain curves of [0/90] and [45] layup

Fig.7. Bonding after the deformation

F. Burning test Burn test was conducted to determine the fiber volume fraction in the thermoplastic composite laminate. Initially, the sample composite laminate is placed inside the Crucible. The weight of the Crucible is measured with and without sample laminate. The difference in weight gives the weight of composite. Finally, after complete burning of PP, the weight of the Crucible is measured again. From this, the weight % of glass fibre in composite is calculated. The test result shows the fiber fraction in the composite is 53.5 wt%. The burn test is also used to find the complete charring temperature of the polypropylene. From the test, it is found that the complete charring of PP occurs at 220C. V. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION In this section, the influence of fabric orientation on the mechanical properties such as tensile strength, flexural strength, shear strength and impact strength has been investigated. A. Tensile properties The stress-strain curves of [0/90] and [45] layup GF/PP composite laminates are shown in the Fig. 8. From the curves, it is evident that both the laminates show different material behavior with respect to fabric orientation. During the tensile tests, significant differences were noticed in the behavior of the laminates. From the tests, it is understood that the tensile properties of [0/90] layup composite laminate is much better than the [45] layup
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When the [0/90] layup composite laminate is being stretched, warp direction fibers which are continuous and parallel to the load direction, would undertake most of the applied external load. Hence, this layup can withstand higher applied load before failure. But, when the [45] layup composite laminate is being stretched, warp and weft direction fibers which are short and 45 inclined to the load direction, would share the applied load with the matrix material. Hence, because of short fibers, [45] layup laminate would fail with much lower applied load. These results indicated that the laminate strength was found to increase with increasing fibre length. It is also known that the strength of the laminate may be predicted based on the orientation of the glass fabric in the matrix material. B. Flexural properties The flexural load-displacement curves of [0/90] and [45] layup GF/PP composite laminates are shown in the Fig. 9.

Fig.9. Flexural Load-disp. curves of [0/90] and [45] layup

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ICAMB 2012, Jan 9-11, 2012 The Peak load withstands by both the types of specimen during the flexural test, is shown in Fig. 9. Equation (1) is used to calculate the Flexural strength from the peak load of the specimens. Flexural strength = 3PL / 2bt2 (1) Where, P Peak load, L Span length, b Breadth, t Thickness Table III presents the flexural testing results of both the layup specimens.
TABLE III FLEXURAL PROPERTIES Properties Peak Load Flexural strength GF/PP Composite [0/90] Layup [45] Layup 250 N 150 N 243.8 MPa 146.3 MPa

Table IV presents the shear testing results of both the layup specimens. Interlaminar shear tests show that the strength of [45] layup laminate is higher than the [0/90] layup laminate. This
TABLE IV SHEAR PROPERTIES Properties Peak Load Shear strength GF/PP Composite [0/90] Layup [45] Layup 130 N 265 N 3.25 MPa 6.63 MPa

From the tests, it is found that the flexural strength of [0/90] layup laminate is higher than the [45] layup laminate. In general, flexural properties depend on the bonding strength between reinforcement and matrix materials. In case of [0/90] layup, because of continuous fibers, the contact surface between the GF and PP is more which leads to high bonding strength between them. While in [45] layup, because of short fibers, the contact surface between the GF and PP is less which leads to low bonding strength between them. C. Shear properties The shear load-displacement curves of [0/90] and [45] layup GF/PP composite laminates are shown in the Fig. 10.

is because of the orientation of reinforcement in the matrix material. In case of [0/90] layup, warp direction fibers are perpendicular to the direction of applied load which leads to lesser fiber cross-sectional area during shearing. While in [45] layup, the warp and weft fibers are 45 inclined to the direction of applied load which leads to higher fiber crosssectional area during shearing. Hence, the load required to shear the [45] laminate is higher than the [0/90] laminate. D. Impact properties It is understood that during the impact tests both the layups of GF/PP composite laminates exhibited very low value of impact strength due to the poor bonding between glass fabric and polypropylene which is evident from the optical micrographs examination. Table V presents the impact testing results of both the layup specimens. The poor bonding may occur because of improper processing conditions and lead to the delamination of constituent materials.
TABLE V IMPACT PROPERTIES Properties Impact strength GF/PP Composite [0/90] Layup [45] Layup 4 Joules 1.3 Joules

VI. CONCLUSION The following conclusions have been drawn from the experiments on mechanical characterization of thermoplastic composites: 1. Composite laminate with [0/90] glass fabric orientation exhibits excellent mechanical properties such as tensile, flexural and impact properties, than laminate with [45] glass fabric orientation. 2. Composite laminate with [45] glass fabric orientation shows better shear property than laminate with [0/90] glass fabric orientation. 3. Composite laminates with both layups exhibited low values of impact properties due to improper bonding between GF and PP. 4. From this research work, it is evident that glass fibre 23

Fig.10. Shear Load-disp. curves of [0/90] and [45] layup

The Peak load withstands by both the types of specimen during the shear test, is shown in Fig. 10. Equation (2) is used to calculate the Shear strength from the peak load of the specimens. Shear strength = 3P / 4bt (2) Where, P Peak load, b Breadth, t Thickness
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ICAMB 2012, Jan 9-11, 2012 reinforced thermoplastic composite exhibited lower performance than existing thermoset composites, due to poor wettability between constituent materials. FUTURE WORK In future, to improve the mechanical properties of the composite and to achieve good interfacial bonding between the polymer and the reinforcement, additives could be introduced. The experiment could be extended by selecting different types of thermoplastic and fibre materials and by having thermoplastic laminate with different stacking sequences. REFERENCES
[1] B. Mouhmid, A. Imad, N. Benseddiq, S. Benmedakhene, A. Maazouz A study of the mechanical behaviour of a glass fibre reinforced polyamide 6,6: Experimental investigation Polymer Testing 25 (2006) 544552 R. Varatharajan, S.K. Malhotra, L. Vijayaraghavan, R. Krishnamurthy Mechanical and machining characteristics of GF/PP and GF/Polyester composites Materials Science and Engineering B 132 (2006) 134137 G. Reyes, H. Kang, Mechanical behavior of lightweight thermoplastic fibermetal laminates Journal of Materials Processing Technology 186 (2007) 284290 Huang Gu, Tensile behaviours of woven fabrics and laminates Materials and Design 28 (2007) 704707 Marcus Schobig, Christian Bierogel, Wolfgang Grellmann, Thomas Mecklenburg Mechanical behavior of glass-fiber reinforced thermoplastic materials under high strain rates Polymer Testing 27 (2008) 893900 [6] R. R. Kulkarni, K. K. Chawla, U. K. Vaidya, M. C. Koopman, A. W. Eberhardt Characterization of long fiber thermoplastic/metal laminates J Mater Sci (2008) 43:43914398 [7] P. E. Lopes, J. A. Sousa, Influence of PP-g-MAH Compatibilizer Characteristics on Interphase and Mechanical Properties of Glass Fiber Reinforced Polypropylene Composites, Materials Engineering Department, Universidade Federal de So Carlos, Brasil (2002), unpublished. [8] M.Sadighi, et. al. Effects of laminate sequencing on thermoforming of thermoplastic matrix composites, Journal of Materials Processing Technology 20I (2008) 725-730. [9] Qianqian Chen, Philippe Boisse, Chung Hae Park, Abdelghani Saouab, Jol Brard Intra/inter-ply shear behaviors of continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites in thermoforming processes Composite Structures 93 (2011) 16921703 [10] K.K.Chawla, Composite Materials: Science and Engineering, Birmingham, USA: Springer science+Business media, Inc, 1998, pp. 14. [11] Andrs izer Development and investigation of self-reinforced polypropylene composites based on the polymorphism of PP PhD Thesis, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Budapest University of Technology, Budapest 2010, pp. 16. [5]

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