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Failure and fracture of short

glass fibre-reinforced nylon


composites
D.C. LEACHand D.R. MOORE
(ICI Petrochemicals 0 Plastics Division, UK)
The failure and fracture behaviour of a range of reinforced nylon
compounds have been studied using a number of different techniques.
Toughness was measured by an instrumented falling weight impact
method; fracture toughness was monitored by measurements of yield
stress and a critical value for stress field intensity factor; deformational
mechanisms were monitored using a volume strain/axial strain
function together with the usual tensile stress/strain plot. Materials
used in this work differed in type of matrix (nylon 6, nylon 6.6 and a
toughened nylon 6.6), type of reinforcement (glass fibres mainly, but
also spheres), fibre content (which was varied in the range
0 - 5 0 weight %) and type of interfacial bond between fibre and matrix.
It is apparent that whilst an individual technique might be adequate for
monitoring performance, a combination of methods are needed to
provide an understanding.
Key words: composite materials; fracture behaviour," injection
moulding; thermoplastic resins; glass fibres

The use of short fibre-reinforced thermoplastics


compounds in engineering applications is both
growing and diversifying. Injection moulding
components are emerging from motor industry
applications to engineering tooling, where a cost
effective set of properties are motivating advance. Two
particular factors account for these trends: firstly, the
prospects of a wider choice especially in the matrix
materials; secondly, a greater awareness and
understanding of material performance. It seems likely
that further growth may be proportional to improved
understanding, particularly where creative design of a
compound and formulation optimization lead the way
to satisfactory product performance. Our aims in this
paper are therefore to discuss certain aspects of
mechanical property evaluation which aid
understanding in the assessment of new products.
In any study of injection moulding materials based on
short fibre-reinforced thermoplastics, it is important to
recognize the complications attendant on fibre
orientation both within the plane and through the
thickness of a moulding. Folkes' review 1 outlines many
such considerations and provides a route to much of
the detailed work. D u n n and Turner a recognized that
the direction of fibre orientation in a moulding could
not be simply represented and that due consideration
needs to be given to the choice of test specimen and

moulding By the start of the 1980's, a clear view had


emerged on evaluating stiffness and anisotropy of short
fibre composites, but the assessment of toughness was
far from well defined.
In order to provide an intrinsic measure of toughness,
fracture mechanics techniques have emerged as the
most constructive approach. Several workers have used
such techniques in studies of short fibre-reinforced
systems; for example Friedrich 3 in relation to fibrereinforced polyesters, Mandell 4 on short glass and
carbon fibre-reinforced nylon, polycarbonate,
polysulphone and polyphenylene sulphide and Cann ~
in studies on GRP. It is well established that a single
fracture mechanics parameter such as fracture
toughness (Kc) or strain energy release rate (GO can
often be inadequate in describing material toughness.
Often, one of these parameters is supplemented with
the yield stress (ay) because the size of a plastic zone
(rp) describes more fully a propensity to crack initiation
and growth:
rp c (Kitty) 2

(1)

The exact relationship between plastic zone size and


the material properties Kc and yield stress depends on
the mechanism of fracture as well as other
considerations. Nevertheless, a broad indication of the

0010-4361/85/020113-08 $03.00 1985 Butterworth f~ Co (Publishers) Ltd


COMPOSITES. VOLUME 16. NO 2. APRIL 1985

113

importance of these two fracture parameters has been


identified 6 in the definition of ductility expressed as
follows:
Ductility factor

(Kc/o'y) 2

Injection point

(2)

Toughness, in all its manifestations, can be evaluated


by measuring the energy absorbed prior to failure (eg
crack initiation) and fracture (complete crack
propagation). When such measurements are conducted
on various plate-type specimens, without introducing
machined notches, then the failure/fracture process is
influenced by the fabrication method employed in
producing an injection moulding. The anisotropy
causes heterogeneity through the mould thickness and
dictates that a crack will grow in the weakest direction.
Traditional impact methods such as the Charpy and
lzod tests have only limited usefulness due to the
dominance of the fibre orientation in the specimen on
the measured toughness. Instrumented falling weight
i m p a c t (IFWI) 7 has emerged as a satisfactory approach
for studying toughness in this context.
An insight of the deformational mechanisms is also
necessary if understanding is a key aim of a failure/
fracture study. Several techniques have featured in this
role including volume strain measurement s, acoustic
emission 9'~ and microscopy. In this work. use is made
of a volume strain measurement technique because it
can be simply conducted and adequately detects
various mechanisms.
The subjects of this work are various nylon
compounds. These include variations in the matrix
material as well as variations in type and concentration
of the reinforcing system. Experimental samples have
been selected for illustrative purposes, rather than to
provide a specific comprehensive evaluation. Our
purpose is to demonstrate the potential in combining
techniques for an evaluation of short fibre composites
and to incorporate an ability to understand weaknesses
and strengths of a system so that development of a
product fit-for-purpose can be progressed.
EXPERIMENTAL DETAILS
Materials and mouldings
The materials used were all nylon compounds and
included commercial grades and specially prepared
samples. The matrices included nylon 6, nylon 6.6 and
toughened nylon 6.6, unreinforced and reinforced with
10-50% by weight (w/w) short glass fibres. Two
independently prepared samples were made of one
material (nylon 6.6 + 33% w/w fibre). A sample of
nylon 6.6 reinforced with 33% w/w glass spheres was
also evaluated for comparative purposes. All materials
were extrusion compounded and then injection
moulded into ASTM bars and double-feed plaque
mouldings 160 X 160 X 3.2 ram. Fig. I shows a sketch
of the mouldings and nomenclature used.
The injection mouldings of fibre-reinforced nylon will
be anisotropic and inhomogeneous at all levels of fibre
content. In addition, the alignment of the fibres will
not be simple. For example, fibres near the outer
surfaces will be aligned in the direction of propagation
of the melt front (due to a converging stress field
during injection moulding), while fibres near the centre
of the thickness will be aligned at right angles to the
direction of propagation of the melt front (due to a
diverging stress field during moulding). This skin/core

114

Injection points

0o

0o

Weld lin

El

,Line along which


polished section was
taken

Fig. 1
Injection mouldings used: (a) double-feed plaque,
160 x 160 mm, 3.2 mm thick; (b) ASTM bar, 215 mm long, 3.2 mm
thick

model has been discussed by a number of workers and


is reviewed by Folkes? The overall fibre alignment
depends upon the ratio of skin to core, and this in turn
is influenced by the thickness of the moulding and its
geometry. In order to quantify this skin/core effect, a
section was taken from one of the double-feed plaque
mouldings of nylon 6.6 + 33% w/w glass fibre, along
the line shown in Fig. 1. After polishing one face, the
section was mounted on glass and the other face
polished, and the resulting thin section examined in an
optical microscope using transmitted light.
Micrographs from various positions along this section
are shown in Fig, 2. The micrographs show that over
the majority of the section the skin/core proportion
and fibre alignment are uniform, only being disturbed
near the injection point and towards the end of the
moulding. It can also be seen that the skin is strongly
dominant with the core only occupying about 20% of
the thickness. The same mould geometry and thickness
were used for all the samples so we assume that skin
dominates the fibre orientation. Consequently we can
classify a specimen cut at 0 or 90 to the direction of
propagation of the melt flow as, in broad terms, along
or across the predominant fibre direction. Although
this is a simplification, our purpose was to compare
failure properties of different materials using a
common moulding geometry while not ignoring the
complex anisotropy and heterogeneity.
Mechanical tests
Failure and fracture studies were conducted using a
number of mechanical properly techniques. The
principal measurements included impact energy,
fracture toughness, yield strength, modulus and volume
strain. In recognizing the importance of moisture
uptake on the properties of injection mouldings, all
samples were stored dry prior to testing. All mechanical
tests were run at 23C in a temperature-controlled
laboratory.
Thoughness was assessed in the IFWI method through
measurement of the energy to initiate a crack and that
to produce complete fracture. Full details of this
technique are documented elsewhere. 7 In these
experiments a ring support of 50 m m internal diameter
was used, with a hemispherically nosed striker of

COMPOSITES. APRIL 1985

160
Injection
point

II

---2o--:.

!1
"".%%

II

I
1,~.2

"

"%% '"

..'"'"'"

" "".. ' "-.

Injection
poirtt

"-..

Core

y.."

....'"

j.

...

a
1

Fibre orientation and distdbufion uniform over central section (120 ram)

~Core ~

'Skin'.~'

Fig. 2

Polished section from double-feed plaque of nylon 6 . 6 + 3 3 % w / w glass fibre. All d i m e n s i o n s in m m

COMPOSITES

. APRIL 1985

115

12.5 m m diameter and impact speeds of 5 m s-I. Test


specimens were 80 80 m m squares cut from the four
quadrants of the double-feed plaques.
Tensile modulus and volume strain were calculated
from the tensile deformation of ASTM type bars on a
universal testing apparatus (Instron) which
incorporates strain measurements in three mutually
perpendicular directions. The various types of
extensometers for measuring axial strain (eA) and
strain in the width and thickness directions (ie lateral
strains e~v and et, respectively) are described in
Reference 11. Volume strain (ev) is then determined
from the expressions:
e v = {(1 + eA)(l + ew)(l + e t ) -

l}

(3)

These tensile deformations were conducted on ASTM


bar specimens and hence the applied stress aligned
with the predominant fibre direction. A test speed of
5 m m rain -~ was used for the tests.
The yield strengths of the samples were obtained in a
plane strain compression test, following the procedure
described by Williams) z This involved cutting strips of
material in the 90 direction from the double-feed
plaques and compressing them between dies of various
breadths in order to compute a value of yield strength
that would not be influenced by geometric or frictional
considerations. A more usual tensile test could not be
used because failure did not occur by net section
yielding in the reinforced compounds; failure being
accompanied by other mechanisms such as debonding
and fibre pull-out
Typically five specimens were tested at four different
die breadths using a cross-head speed of 0.5 m m
min -1. Force/displacement plots enabled a peak force
to be identified with a matrix yielding process and
hence a yield stress to be calculated, but such stresses
are highly dependent on die geometry. Consequently a
plot of apparent yield stress vs die breadth (as described
in Reference 12) enabled a stress at infinite die breadth
to be extrapolated and thus a plane-strain yield stress
was calculated.
Fracture toughness (Kc) was obtained through the
analysis of single-edge notched (SEN) tensile tests,
where the critical value of stress field intensity factor
(fracture toughness) is determined from the
expressionS3:
K c = crf Y a ~/z

(4)

where a r is a gross fracture stress, Y is the geometry


factor, detailed in Reference 13, and a is the notch
depth.
Specimens were cut from double-feed plaques; tensile
bars were cut such that the applied force was at 90 to
the principal direction of propagation of the melt front.
This enabled a machined notch to be cut along the
direction of propagation of the melt front, thus the
cracks were propagated parallel to the dominant fibre
alignment A fly-cutter, with a tip radius of 10 ktm,
mounted on a milling machine was used to prepare the
notches. In order to determine Ko at least eight
specimens with notch depths varying between 10-60%
of the specimen width were used.
Notched tensile specimens were simply clamped in an
Instron machine but the calculation of the geometry
factor (Y) contained in Brown and Strawley 13 assumes

116

that the tensile force is uniformly distributed across the


width of the specimen. This assumption is consistent
with pin-loading (provided that the distance between
the pins is not less than three times the specimen
width). It is pointed out by Brown and Strawley ~J that
calibrations for SEN specimens which are eccentrically
loaded in tension can be derived by superposition of
results for axial tension and pure bending.
Consequently, use of a geometry factor (Y) for pinloading will yield a plot of stress vs (Yx/-a)-~ that does
not pass through the origin, but intercepts the y-axis at
a positive value commensurate with the bending stress
generated during the opening of a crack. This is
observed in all our fracture mechanics experiments
and therefore K c is the slope of the plot, after a least
squares fit, but without bias for the line passing
through the origin. Independent verification of this is
obtained by fracture toughness measurements on
isotropic polymethylmethacrylate conducted in threeline bending, clamped SEN tension and pin-joined SEN
tension. In all three tests K c was calculated at a value
of 1.6 + 0.1 MPa m 1/2 and where the clamped SEN
tensile tests were of the character just described.

DISCUSSION OF RESULTS
Instrumented falling weight impact
IFWI of plaques of short fibre-reinforced nylon
compounds provide complex force/deflection curves.
Often three or four cracks initiate and propagate in the
plaques. Analysis of the results is focussed on the force
to initiate fracture, together with the energies absorbed
by the specimen in the initiation of a crack and the
attainment of complete fracture, The details of analysis,
typical force/deflection curves for an initiation/
propagation failure process and the handling of the
statistical analysis are provided in Reference 7.
Scatter of impact data is an important consideration in
the evaluation of materials, particularly those
containing short fibre reinforcement. For example, in
IFW| tests on a batch of 50 mouldings of a 33% w/w
nylon 6.6 compound, it was observed that the failure
mechanism was identical on a macroscopic scale.
Analysis of the energy to initiate a crack showed that
the highest and lowest value differed by a factor of two
and that the coefficient of variation was 18%; quite a
large value for a sample with 50 'identical' specimens.
Consequently, meaningful impact evaluations can only
emerge when relatively large quantities of specimens
are tested, unless there are large differences in
toughness.
The fracture of these specimens also gave valuable
information on the predominant fibre direction. Crack
propagation would be expected to occur in the weakest
direction, which matched the direction of the melt
front That is, crack propagation and alignment of the
fibres in the surface layers was in the same direction.
These observations for the experiments on mouldings
with 33% w/w glass and other tests on mouldings with
different glass contents confirmed our views on fibre
orientation.
The effect of glass fibre content on the energy to
fracture a plaque and initiate a crack for nylon 6.6
matrix composites is shown in Fig, 3. The unreinforced
matrix exhibits relatively high energy absorption, but
this is reduced considerably as soon as small quantities
of fibres are present At fibre contents above about 10%
w / w , the crack initiation energy appears to be

COMPOSITES. APRIL 1985

15

a propyl trimethoxy silane coating which gave a poor


bond. Fig, 5 illustrates histograms of the data for
energy to initiate a crack, plotting proportional
frequencey vs initiation energy. A student t-test confirms
that there is a highly significant difference between the
two sets since the probability of this difference in the
means arising by chance is less than 0.1%. The
beneficial effect of a good bond between matrix and
fibre for good impact performance is confirmed, a
conclusion in accord with the work of Seller et aZ 14

13

-a
cture

~o
"8
E

Initiation

I
I0

I
20

I
30

[
40

50

Glass content ( % w / w )

Fig. 3 Effect of glass content on impact energy for nylon 6.6. Impact
energy at 31% is displaced from 33% for clarity
3O

~-

20

0
0

.... s - ' ' "


I
IO

Nylon 6
I
20

ughened

nylon 6.6

I
30

I
40

I
50

Gloss content (% w/w)


Fig. 4
Effect of glass content on fracture energy for different matrices.
The fracture energy at 31% is displaced from 33% for clarity.

insensitive to fibre content, but the total energy to


fracture rises to a plateau with higher fibre contents. It
is therefore implicit that the energy to propagate a
crack increases with increasing fibre content. Mandell
et al 4 show that cracks will propagate in a fibre
avoidance mode through the matrix, provided that
fibres are adequately bonded to the matrix.
Consequently, as the fibre content is increased, then
the crack route will be more convoluted, or more fibres
must be fractured. Either explanation will lead to
greater energy for crack propagation.
The choice of matrix also influences both energy to
initiate and propagate cracks. This can be illustrated
for short fibre-reinforced composites based on nylon 6,
nylon 6.6 and toughened nylon 6.6, all examined over a
range of glass fibre concentrations. The trends of
impact behaviour with glass content are similar to that
just described for systems based on nylon 6.6, although
the magnitude of the effect is strongly influenced by
the matrix material. Fig. 4 illustrates total fracture
energy (ie initiation and propagation) vs glass content.
Unreinforced nylon 6 appears less tough than nylon
6.6, although composites based on these two matrices
become similar as the glass content increases. The
matrix based on a toughened nylon 6.6, however,
exhibits significantly higher energy absorption. These
observations mainly relate to a crack propagation
process because there are only small differences
between these composites for the energy to initiate a
crack (the toughened nylon 6.6 matrix requiring the
highest energy for initiation).
The bond between fibre and matrix also affects the
impact performance. Additional compounds containing
33% w/w glass fibres in a nylon 6.6 matrix were used to
illustrate this effect. One compound had an amino
propyl silane coating on the glass in order to produce a
good interfacial bond, whilst the other c o m p o u n d had

COMPOSITES. APRIL 1 9 8 5

Fracture toughness tests


Fracture toughness (Kc) and yield stress were measured
on samples of nylon 6.6 matrix-based composites, for
glass fibre contents up to 50% w / w , on specimens taken
from the 90 direction from the plaques. Data are
illustrated in Fig, 6. In the yield stress test, the
specimens at the highest glass content (50% w/w)
fractured rather than yielded, therefore an
extrapolation of the curve to 175 MPa is used instead
of the plotted datum point. The plot in Fig. 6 shows
that K c rises with the addition of fibres until a
m a x i m u m occurs at 35% w/w glass content. This
corresponds to 19% by volume of fibres. A similar peak
has been reported by Friedrich 3 and Beaumont et al. 15
Davidge and Green ~6 suggest that the formation of a
crack in a composite requires a critical amount of
stored elastic strain energy within the reinforcing
particles and the surrounding matrix. Consequently,
crack formation depends upon the volume of the
reinforcement. If the stress fields from adjacent
particles overlap, then cracks will initiate and, for this
condition to be satisfied, then a critical interparticle
spacing can be defined. Davidge and Green 16 show

0.7
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' Good'
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initiation energy ( J )

Fig. 5
Effect of fibre/matrix bond on crack initiation energy at 23C.
Sample size = 20
200 150 -

[
4

IO0

TE 3

5o

~ 2

I-0
0

I
IO

I
20

I
30

I
40

50

Glass content (% w/w)

Fig. 6
Effect of glass content on yield stress (y) and fracture
toughness (Kc) for nylon 6.6 based composites. The yield stress value at
31% is displaced from 33% for clarity

117

The effect of different matrices is illustrated in Fig 8


for yield stress w glass content and in Fig, 9 for fracture
toughness vs glass content. Nylon 6.6 shows the highest
yield stress, while the toughened nylon 6.6 has the
smallest. This observation would seem to be
independent of glass content. A lower yield stress will
lead to high ductility (as indexed through ductility
factor) and in part accounts for the comparative
behaviour already discussed for impact performance.

750

=L
50(

"~ 25(:
Q

I
I0

I
20

I
30

I
40

I
50

Gloss content ( % w / w )
Fig. 7
Effect of glass content on ductility factor at 23C for compounds
based on nylon 6.6

Nylon 6.6

~ o

150

~ ~ ~ ~ ~'~"

"~N y l o n 6

,oo
v

b"
Toughened nylon 6.6

5O

I
I0

I
20

I
30

[
4.0

I
50

Gloss content (% w/w)


Fig. 8 Effect of glass content on yield stress (Gy) at 23C for compounds
based on various matrix materials. The yield stress values at 19% and
23% are displaced from 20% and that at 31% is displaced from 33% for
clarity

Toughened

Nylon 6 6

T E

no
:E

Nylon 6

I
10

I
20

I
30

I
40

I
50

Gloss content ( % w/w )


Fig. 9
Effect of glass content on fracture toughness (Kc) at 23C for
compounds based on various matrix materials. The fracture toughness at
31% is displaced from 33% for clarity

that this relates to an interparticle spacing of at least


twice the particle diameter. For fibre-reinforced
composites where crack propagation is parallel to the
fibres, then the particle diameter may be taken as the
fibre diameter (11 /~m) and the critical interparticle
spacing will then be at least 22 ktm. This leads to a
critical fibre volume of 20% which is close to the
m a x i m u m that we observe at 19%.
The combination of yield stress and fracture toughness
enables a ductility factor to be calculated and a plot of
this vs glass content is illustrated in Fig. 7. A m a x i m u m
is again observed, but now at a slightly lower glass
content, 32-33% w/w, which is more in line with the
peak in Fig 3 for total energy absorbed for fracture.
This corresponds to a fibre volume content of 15%.

118

The graph of fracture toughness w" glass content (Fig, 9)


shows that K c for the unreinforced nylon 6 is higher
than that for nylon 6.6. However, introduction of fibre
reinforcement ( e g 33% w/w) shows that nylon 6.6 based
compounds are superior. The compounds based on
toughened nylon 6.6 show a peak in K c, but at a lower
glass content than for nylon 6.6 (20% w/w ~f35% w/w).
This observation is probably in accord with the
Davidge and Green model 16 previously discussed, but
only a qualitative story now emerges. The toughened
nylon 6.6 based compounds have a three phase
structure - - glass, matrix and particles of toughening
agent. Consequently, the critical interparticle distance
will be reduced and as such this also reduces the fibre
volume for optimum performance. We observe this
reduction (11% by volume at peak) but cannot quantify
it by calculation.
The combination of yield stress and fracture toughness
is illustrated as ductility factor ws glass content in
Fig. 10. The lower yield stress and higher fracture
toughness of toughened nylon 6.6 compounds
compared with nylon 6.6 based compounds in the glass
content range 10-20% w/w illustrates a higher ductility
factor. This is in accord with the impact toughness
data of Fig. 3. There is a suggestion, however, that at
glass contents above 30% compounds based on nylon
6.6 might show superior performance. This
demonstrates that it is insufficient merely to produce a
highly toughened matrix because improvements in the
toughness of the compound need to emerge not only
from a lower yield stress but also from other factors
such as improved fracture toughness. It is apparent,
however, that toughness improvements at low fibre
contents can be achieved by matrix modification,
although usually accompanied by a stiffness and
strength penalty.
The effect of fibre/matrix bonding agent on fracture
toughness was examined for the same compounds used
in the impact study. The material with the good bond
gave a significantly higher fracture toughness;
2.7 MPa m 1/2 compared with 1.8 MPa m 1/2. These

1500

Toughened

I000

50C

Nylon 6 . 6
0
0

I
I0

I
20

I
30

I
40

I
50

Gloss content ( % w / w )
Fig. 10
Effect of glass content on ductility factor at 23C for
compounds based on various matrix materials. The ductility factor at 31%
is displaced from 33% for clarity

COMPOSITES. APRIL 1 9 8 5

experiments were repeated on another pair of


compounds prepared by a more severe compounding
route, but this time with cracks propagated across the
dominant fibre orientation. Although the K c values
differed, the conclusion that a good bond leads to a
higher toughness was again confirmed (with values of
5.1 MPa m '/z and 3.7 MPa m ~/2 for the 'good' and
"poor' bonds, respectively).
Although it is desirable to achieve good interfacial
bonding between fibre and matrix, W a m b a c h e t a P 7
suggest that this might be accompanied by a greater
notch sensitivity. Our results do not confirm this and
Mandell e t a # provide an explanation. They illustrate
that compounds with a poor interfacial bond can have
cracks propagating along that interface and thus
debonding the matrix and the fibre. Materials with a
strong interfacial bond have crack propagation through
the matrix and thus a high fracture toughness.
Volumetric strain tests

The measurement of volume strain during a tensile test


provides an insight into the various deformational
mechanisms, as well as incorporating the usual
monitoring of a tensile stress/axial strain function. The
shape of a volume strain vs axial strain graph enables a
qualitative appraisal of the deformational mechanism,
particularly delineating between volume increasing
processes (eg voiding, crazing, cracking, debonding, e t c )
and a shear banding process (yielding) where
deformation occurs without volume increase. It can
often be expected with filled or reinforced plastics that
a volume increasing process will occur. A volume
strain measurement alone cannot identify the specific
mechanism, although complementary observations
readily aid identification. Nevertheless, even without
specific identification, a comparative guide of volume
strain/axial strain function can be helpful. A number
of illustrative examples are now discussed for various
types of nylon compounds.
Nylon can be reinforced with glass fibres or spheres.
The enhancement of modulus will depend on which
glass system is used, even at a c o m m o n reinforcement
concentration. This is illustrated in Fig. 11 for tensile
stress/axial strain plots for nylon 6.6 unreinforced and
with 33% w/w glass spheres and fibres. Modulus, at a
specific strain, is highest for fibre reinforcement, least
for no reintorcement and intermediate for inclusion of
glass spheres. Such data were obtained for ASTM-type
tensile bar mouldings (stored dry), where the
predominant direction of fibre alignment is in the
direction of the applied stress. The volume strain data

33% Fibres

"~

I
I

I
2

Tensile

I
5

strain (%)

Fig. 12
Volume strain/axial strain plots for nylon 6.6 based
compounds. Dry material, 23C, cross-head speed 5 mm min -1

obtained from the same experiments are illustrated in


Fig. 12. It can be seen that there is a more pronounced
volume increasing mechanism for the compound
containing glass spheres compared with that for the
compound containing fibres. The lower modulus of
nylon compared with that of glass ensures that most of
the strain occurs within the nylon matrix.
Consequently, it is likely that the volume increasing
mechanism is a debonding process between glass and
nylon, this process of debonding being more
pronounced with spheres than fibres. The similarity in
volume strain vs axial strain functions between fibrereinlbrced and unreinforced compounds suggests that
the extent of debonding in the fibre-reinforced
compound is quite small, since no debonding can
occur in the unfilled material.
A debonding mechanism is strongly related to the
adhesion between glass and matrix, and this in turn
can be influenced by the coating applied to a glass
fibre prior to preparation of an injection moulding
compound. Volume strain measurements conducted on
injection moulded ASTM tensile bars from the 'good'
and "poor" bonded compounds referred to in previous
sections are illustrated in Fig. 13. The compound with
a poor bond between matrix (nylon 6.6) and glass
fibres clearly exhibits a stronger tendency for a volume
increasing mechanism, likely to be debonding between
glass and matrix. The stress vs axial strain plots show a
difference between these two samples. Both materials
exhibit a similar stiffness at very small strains, but
the compound with the good interfacial bond
maintains a relatively high stiffness as axial strain
increases. This is an alternative manifestation of
debonding but an interpretation of the shape of a

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0.2

COMPOSITES. APRIL 1 9 8 5

Tensile stroin

Tensile strain (%)


Fig. 11
Tensile stress/strain curves for nylon 6.6 based
Dry ASTM bars, 23C, cross-head speed 5 mm min -1

compounds.

(%)

Fig. 13
Volume strain/axial strain plots for compounds
6.6. Dry material, 23C, cross-head speed 5 mm rain -1

based on

nylon

119

stress/strain curve and the magnitude of the stress/


strain ratio introduces a different set of ambiguities
and assumptions. On balance, the volume strain plot
provides a more direct and informative view of the
deformational mechanisms.

CONCLUDING COMMENTS
A single evaluation procedure would seem to be
inadequate for an evaluation of failure and fracture of
nylon composites. A combination of techniques is seen
to be more useful when collating a n u m b e r of
conclusions from this worlc
Impact toughness, assessed through IFWI, provides
good resolution of initiation and propagation
mechanisms and their monitoring, but does not
explain trends with glass fibre content. The fracture
mechanics results thus c o m p l e m e n t the impact data.
Total impact energy to fracture falls as fibre content
increases from zero to about 15% w/w. This is
explicable in terms of a larger increase in yield stress
than that for K c. Consequently, the ductility factor plot
of Fig. 7 shows good agreement with the impact energy
plot of Fig. 3.
The general agreement between ductility expressed
through ductility factor and toughness expressed
through an impact energy is encouraging. It is not
expected that complete accord between these
measurements can be possible because they both
contain failure and fracture mechanisms manifesting
themselves in different ways. Nevertheless, a full
comparison of the two techniques, as illustrated in Fig.
14 for all the materials, does provide a positive
correlation.
Evaluation of an individual failure mechanism
remains important. For example, the process of crack
propagation as monitored through fracture toughness
appears to agree with the Davidge and Green modeU 6
reinforcing the belief that an understanding of
toughness is at hand.
Other deformational processes, such as debonding` can
be identified through a volume strain v axial strain plot
and this technique confirms aspects of material
behaviour concerning reinforcement type and glassfibre coating.
The various material changes incorporated into our
samples, whether glass concentration, matrix type or
interfacial bond, have demonstrated the value of
combining various failure and fracture techniques. It is
not enough, however, merely to monitor a process: it is
apparent that some c o m p l e m e n t a r y understanding is
also important.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors acknowledge the constructive
contributions from J.N. Gaitske]l in discussions and
provision of sample mouldings; from M. Whale and J.
Hastings in mechanical testing; from A.D. Curson in
optical microscopy: and from Pilkington Bros plc in
certain glass fibre samples.
This paper is based on one first presented at the
Concerence 'Testing Evaluation and Quality Control o f
Composites', held at the University of Surrey, UK. on
13-14 September 1983.

120

o < 15% fibres


o 2 0 % fibres

1500 -

x
A

3 0 - 3 3 % fibres
4 0 - 5 0 % fibres

::k

i'1
0

tooo-

XX

"~

500 -

A
0

x
X

X A

I
5

I
10
Frocture

I
15

I
20

I
25

energy (d)

Fig. 14
Relationship between ductility factor and impact fracture energy
for a range of compounds

REFERENCES
M . 'Short Fibre Reinforced Thermoplastics' (Rsch
Studies Press, J Wiley & Sons Ltd, 1982)
2 Dunn, C.M.R. and Turner, S. 'The characterisation of
reinforced thermoplastics for industry and engineering uses'
1

Folkes,

NPL Conf Proc April 1974

3 Friedrieh, K. "Microstructure and fracture mechanical


properties of short fibre reinforced thermoplastics PET' PRI
Conf Proc 'Deformation YieM & Fracture of Polymers] April
1982

MandeU, J.E., Darwich, A.Y. and MeGarry, F.J. "Fracture


testing of injection-moulded glass and carbon fibrereinforced thermoplastics' ASTM STP 734 edited by Chamis
(American Society for Testing and Materials, 1981) pp 73-90
5 Cann, R.J. 'A fracture mechanics approach to static and
fatigue failure in glass reinforced plastics' PhD thesis
(Nottingham University, U ~ 1977)
6 Moore, D.IL, Hooley, C.J. and Whale, M. "Ductility factors
for thermoplastics" Plastics and Rubber Proc & Appl l No 2
(1981)
7

Gutteridge, P.A., Hooley, C.J., Moore, D.R., Turner, S. and

Williams, M.J. 'A versatile system of impact tests and data'


Kunststoffe 72 (1982) p 9
8 Bneknall, C.B., Clayton, D. and Keast, W. "Rubbertoughening of plastics" JMater Sci 8 (1973) p 514
9 Jackson, J.R. "Acoustic emission from short fibre GRP
composites" Proc Conf on Interfaces in Comp Mater, Liverpool
UK, April 1981

10 Welters, J. "Influence of shape and bonding of glass


particles on the acoustic emission behaviour of
polycarbonate' XI EWGAE Meeting Milart Italy. November
1982

11 Barrie, I.T., Moore, D.R. and Turner, S. "Developments in


the generation and manipulation of mechanical properties
data' Plastics and Rubber Proc & Appl 3 (1983) p 293
12 Williams, 3.G. "Plane strain compression testing of polymers'
Trans J Plast lust 35 (1967) p 505
13 Brown, W.F. and Strawley, J.E. 'Plane strain crack toughness
testing of high strength metallic materials' ASTM STP 410
(American Society for Testing and Materials, 1966)
14 Seiler, E., Dorst, H.G. and Theysohn, IL "New developments
in glass fibre reinforced thermoplastics' 5th Euro Plastics &
Rub Conf ParL~ France, 1978

15 Beaumont, P.W.R., Jolliffe, V. and Gore, D. 'Fracture of


particulate composites based on PMMA' Fracture 3 (1977)
pp 1015-1023
Davidge, R.W. and Green, T.J. "The strength of two-phase
16
ceramic/glass materials" J Mater Sci 3 (1968) p 629
Wambach, A., Trachte, K. and DiBenedetto, A. "Fracture
17
properties of glass filled polyphenylene oxide composites" J
Comp Mater 2 No 3 (1968) pp 266-283
AUTHORS

The authors are with the Analytical and Polymer


Science Group, Research and Technology Department,
Imperial Chemical Industries plc, Petrochemicals and
Plastics Division, PO Box 90, Wilton, Middlesbrough,
Cleveland, TS6 8JE, UK. Inquiries should be directed
to Mr Leach.

COMPOSITES. APRIL 1985