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Materials Today: Proceedings 2 (2015) 2868 – 2877

4th International Conference on Materials Processing and Characterization

Natural Fibre Reinforced Composite Laminates – A Review


Nitin Jauharia*, Raghvendra Mishrab, Harischchandra Thakurc
a
Assoc. Professor-ME Deptt.,Inderprastha Engineering College,Ghaziabad-201005 Delhi NCR, India
b
Assoc. Professor-ME Deptt.,School Of Engineering, Gautam Buddha University,Gautam Buddha Nagar, Delhi NCR, India
c
Asstt. Professor-ME Deptt.,School Of Engineering, Gautam Buddha University,Gautam Buddha Nagar,Delhi NCR, India

Abstract

In polymeric composite terms, natural fibre reinforcement is a manufactured assembly of long or short bundles of natural fibres
to produce a flat sheet or mat of one or more layers of fibres. These layers are held together either by mechanical interlocking of
the fibres them-selves or with a binder to hold these materials together giving the assembly sufficient integrity to be handled.
Natural Fibre Composites are durable, have good maintenance, renewable, bio-degradable, combustible and cost effective , as
compared to synthetic fibre composites. Research in this area will help in design and efficient usage of the natural fibres. This
paper reviews various natural fibres, their physical properties, fibre fabric types, fabrication methods , stacking sequence &
failure criteria. A ply drop-off laminate is also modelled & analysed using ANSYS to understand the behaviour of FRPs under
axial load.

© 2015
2014Elsevier
The Authors.
Ltd. AllElsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
rights reserved.
Selection and
Selection andpeer-review
peer-reviewunder responsibility
under of theofconference
responsibility committee
the conference members
committee of the 4thofInternational
members conference conference
the 4th International on Materialson
Processing and Characterization.
Materials Processing and Characterization.

Keywords:Natural Fibres; Matrix; Composite Properties; Fabrication; Failure Criteria.

1. Introduction:
Composites consists of two phases namely fibre and matrix. Fibres are discontinuous phase used to carry the load
and matrix is continuous phase used to bind and transmit the load to the fibres. Natural Fibre Composites are
durable, have good maintenance, renewable, bio-degradable, combustible and cost effective, as compared to
synthetic fibre composites.Due to low density & cellular structure, natural fibre possess very good acoustic &
thermal insulation properties & demonstrate many advantageous properties over synthetic fibres like glass fibres in

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +91-0120-2635633; Mob: +91-9999019457.


E-mail address:johri.nitin@gmail.com

2214-7853 © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the conference committee members of the 4th International conference on Materials Processing
and Characterization.
doi:10.1016/j.matpr.2015.07.304
Nitin Jauhari et al. / Materials Today: Proceedings 2 (2015) 2868 – 2877 2869

handling & disposal. Natural fibres are of interest for low-cost engineering applications and can compete with
artificial glass fibres (E-glass fibre) when a high stiffness per unit weight is desirable. Traditionally, natural fibres
are used and known for rope, twine, and course sacking materials; and they are biodegradable and environmentally
friendly crop.Natural fibres are classified as (in terms of source) : Animal, Vegetable(mostly used), &
Mineral.Vegetable Naturalfibres which are most extensively used are further classified as : Seed Based( e.g:
cotton), Leaf based ( e.g: Jute, Ukum, Sisal, Pineapple, banana, Bagasse, Hemp, Flax etc.) & Fruit Based ( e.g:.
Coconut, coir etc)(2 Giuseppe Cristaldi. 2010;.7Hoi-yan Cheung. 2009 ; 5C.W.Nguong.2013). Among these the bast
fibres extracted from Jute, Hemp, Flax, Kenaf ,& Ramie are widely accepted as best candidates for reinforcements
of Composites due to their good mechanical properties. Bamboo, Sisal, Jute, Wood, Hemp , Flax Fibres also are of
particular interest due to their good mechanical properties. Hemp, jute, flax and sisal fibres are already widely used
in automotive industry .Some of the disadvantages of using natural fibres are: Low thermal stability (likely to
degrade at 200-250 ⁰ C ); Poor adhesion between fibres due to hydrophilic nature leads to swelling of fibres &
moisture content .Fibre/matrix has an important role in the micromechanical behaviour of composite. Lack of good
adhesion with the polymeric matrix, and large moisture absorption of natural fibres adversely affect adhesion with
hydrophobic matrix material .These problems often lead to premature ageing by degrading and loss of strength. (4
P.J.Herrera-Franco. 2005).Advantages of using natural fibres in terms of mechanical properties are: better strength
to weight ratio , high stiffness, low weight, low thermal expansion, high fatigue strength , high corrosion resistance
& good strengths ( tensile , compressive, impact & bending strengths) etc. Energy needed for production of natural
fibres is on average less than half of the amount needed for synthetic fibres (Fig.1.).

Fig .1.Energy for production of some natural fibres (MJ/T).

1.1 Natural Fibre Properties:

Physical & Mechanical Properties of Natural fibres mainly depend upon following criteria:
x Content of Cellulose (affects Tensile strength proportionately), Lignin (affects stiffness proportionately),
Hemi Cellulose, Pectin, Waxes, & Water Content.
x Geometry of Elementary Cell .
x Angle of helix axis of fibre (affects tensile strength inversely).
x The green fibres are chemically treated with alkaline solutions like NaOH at various concentration levels.
The purpose of chemical treatment is to remove the moisture content of green fibre and to increase its
tensile strength.As a result the bonding strength also increases.

Basically content of Cellulose, Hemi Cellulose & Lignin are the defining parameters for mechanical properties of
Natural Fibres. A unique characteristic of natural fibres is depended upon the variations in the characteristics and
amount of these components, as well as difference in its cellular structure. Therefore, to use natural fibres to its best
advantages and most effectively in automotive and industrial application, physical and mechanical properties of
natural fibres must be considered. Modification to the fibre also improves resistance to moisture induced
degradation of the interface and the composite properties. In addition, factors like processing
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conditions/techniques(3 Bob Matthews. 2003) have significant influence on the mechanical properties of fibre
reinforced composites. The mechanical properties of a natural fibre-reinforced composite depend on many
parameters, such as fibre strength, modulus, fibre length and orientation, in addition to the fibre-matrix interfacial
bond strength. A strong fibre-matrix interface bond is critical for high mechanical properties of composites. A good
interfacial bond is required for effective stress transfer from the matrix to the fibre whereby maximum utilization of
the fibre strength in the composite is achieved. Mechanical properties of natural fibres, especially flax, hemp, jute
and sisal, are very good and may compete with glass fibre in specific strength and modulus. A number of
investigations have been conducted on several types of natural fibres such as kenaf, hemp, flax, bamboo, and jute to
study the effect of these fibres on the mechanical properties of composite materials(13 Gunti Rajesh etal.2013; 14 K.
Kishor Kumar etal. 2013; 15 Sukhdeep Singh etal. 2013).The strength of natural fibre composites in on average
lower compared to the synthetic fibre reinforced composites(16 C. Elanchezhian etal. 2014), even under optimised
fibre-matrix interaction, but their lower density and cost make them competitive in terms of specific and economic
properties. This is basically due to the composite-like structure of natural fibres . They are generally not single
filaments as most manmade fibres but they can have several physical forms, which depend on the degree of fibre
isolation. Composite strength depends also on fibre diameter (smallest diameter could achieve higher mechanical
resistance due to larger specific contact surface with matrix) and fibre length.

Some of the Natural fibres composition in terms of these three(Cellulose, Hemi Cellulose & Lignin) contents is as
given in Table 1:

Table 1. Natural fibre composition


% Cotton Jute Flax Hemp Kenaf Sisal
Cellulose 82.7 61-71 71-75 70.2-74.4 53-57 67-78
Hemi Cellulose 5.7 13.6-20.4 18.6-20.6 17.9-22.4 15-19 10-14.2
Lignin - 12-13 2.2 3.7-5.7 5.9-9.3 8-11

On basis of the composition of above three parameters (Table 1), some of the important features are :

x Tensile properties are very promising in ‘Hemp’ & Cellulose content is highest in ‘Cotton’.
x Tensile strength is good in Pineapple, Kenaf, Banana, Flax , Hemp & Cotton Fibres.
x Composite strength mainly depends on Fibre Diameter, Length, Orientation& Modulus.
x The ukam plant fibre laminate has the maximum tensile strength of 16.25 MPa and the impact strength of
9.8J/m among the natural fibres.
x The sisal laminate has the maximum compressive strength of 42 MPa and maximum bending strength of
0.0036 MPa among the natural fibres.
x Experimental Results also indicate that future research towards significant improvements in tensile and
impact strength of these types of composites should focus on the optimisation of fibre strength rather than
interfacial bond strength.
x Fibres modification is required and needed to improve mechanical properties for composite product.
Efficiency of the fibre-reinforced composites also depends on the manufacturing process that the ability to
transfer stress from the matrix to fibre.

Some of the natural composite properties can be summarised in Table 2:

Table 2. Natural Composite Properties


S.No. Composite Properties
1. Bamboo-Mesh reinforced Reinforcing material could enhance the
cement composites ductility and toughness of the cement
matrix, and increase significantly its
tensile, Flexural and impact strengths.

2 Jute fabric-reinforced Jute fibre composite has better strengths


polyester composites than wood composites.
Nitin Jauhari et al. / Materials Today: Proceedings 2 (2015) 2868 – 2877 2871

3 Pulp fibre reinforced thermoplastic Found to have a combination of stiffness


composite increased by a factor of 5.2 and strength
increased by a factor of 2.3 relative to
the virgin polymer.

4 Banana fibres reinforced polyester Optimum content of banana fibre is


composites 40%. Mechanical properties of banana–
fibre–cementcomposites were
investigated physically and
mechanically. It was reported that Kraft
pulped banana fibre composite has good
flexural strength. In addition, short
banana fibre reinforced polyester
compositewas studied. The study
concentrated on the effect of fibre length
and fibre content.The maximum tensile
strength was observed at 30 mm fibre
length while maximum impact strength
was observed at 40 mm fibre
length.Incorporation of 40% untreated
fibres provides a 20% increase in the
tensile strength and a 34% increase in
impact strength. Comparison of
bananafibre and glass fibre with varying
fibre length and fibre content was done.

5 Green composites with different Studies on the tensile and flexural


pineapple fibre content properties of the green composites with
different pineapple fibre content was
done and compared with the virgin
resin.

6 Sisal fibre Sisal fibre is fairly coarse and inflexible.


It has good strength, durability, ability to
stretch,affinity for certain dyestuffs, and
resistance to deterioration in Sea water.
Sisal ropes and twines are widely used
for marine, agricultural, shipping, and
general industrial use. It was seen that
sisal, henequen, and palm fibre have
very similar physical, chemical, and
tensile properties.

7 Henequen fibre These fibres have mechanical properties


suitable for reinforcingthermoplastic
resins.

8. Filament wound cotton fibre Filament wound cotton fibre reinforced


for reinforcinghigh-density polyethylene
(HDPE) resin. Khalid et al. also studied
the use of cotton fibre reinforced epoxy
composites along with glass fibre
reinforced polymers.
1.2 Natural fibre types:

For natural fibres, the fibre’s length is an inherent limit for the material itself due to their natural origin which limits
their length (for example the plant stem). This is a basic reason why natural fibres are usually found as short
reinforcements which are used to produce mat fabrics when there is not any preferential stress direction and there is
a low stress/ strain level in the composite which are non-optimised fabric for mechanical performances.The
alternative to the use of short fibres is the manufacture of long yarns. Yarn is a longcontinuous assembly of
relatively short interlocked fibres, suitable for use in the productionof textiles, sewing, knitting, weaving,
embroidery and rope making that are twisted with an angle to the yarn axis in order to provide axial strength to the
yarn.
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a. b.

Fig. 2. (a) Hemp Twisted Yarn & its SEM image; (b) Hemp & Flax Fibre Rovings.

Spun yarns are made by twisting or otherwise bonding staple fibres together to make a cohesive thread and may
contain a single type of fibre or a blend of various types. Two or more spun yarns, if twisted together, form a thicker
twisted yarn (Fig. 2. (a)). Depending on the direction of this final twist, the yarn will be known as s-twist or z-twist.
Two or more parallel spunyarns can form a roving(Fig. 2. (b)). The main advantage of using natural yarns is the
possibility to weave them into 2D and 3D fabrics with tailored yarn orientations. Spun yarns obtained from natural
fibres present usually some short fibres protruding out of the main yarn body commonly referred to as yarn hairiness
which can lead to better mechanical yarn/ resin interlocking in composites. Another advantage of natural yarns is the
increased surface roughness of yarns compared to fibres, which increases the interfacial strength due to mechanical
interlocking, improving the transverse properties. In addition, twisting localizes the micro damages within the yarn
leading to higher fracture strength.Units used for Fibres are : Linear mass density: Tex( mass in gm per 1000m ) ,
DeciTex( mass in gm per 10,000m) & Denier( mass in gm per 9000m).Yield (Linear density of roving of Fibre in
yards/lb).Linear mass of twisted yarn is expressed by a fraction where the numerator is the yarn count and the
denominator is simply the number of ends (e.g. 30/ 3). Main advantage of using weaved Fabrics, is the possibility to
pre-orient the filaments in the designed direction. The manner in which the warp & weft threads are interlaced is
known as weave style. & on this basis these are classified as:
x Plain weave
x Satin weave
x Twill weave
2. FRPComposite Laminates
FRP (Fibre Reinforced Plastics) composite laminates possess high stiffness, strength, fatigue damage tolerance,
fatigue strength to weight ratio, low coefficient of thermal expansion ,low corrosion, high internal damping,&
have low maintenance cost. Analysis is done by studying micromechanics(fibre/matrix failure, fibre-matrix interface
debonding, delamination)& macro mechanical behaviour ( average apparent properties of composite along the length &
perpendicular to the fibre direction)of these laminates as well as manufacturing process selection.

2.1 Manufacturing - Process Selection:


Process selection is usually made on the basis of lowest cost which will produce the part to meet the specific
requirements -Production rate& Consistent quality(3 Bob Matthews. 2003).On basis of part configuration,process
selection can be classified as - For Cylindrical Shape: Filiment winding ;For Beam Shape: Pultrusion.
Other processes are:
x Hand/Automated Layout process ( Prepreg tape laying)- Material is layed up on mould & pressure & heat
is applied in autoclave (Fig. 3.(a)). Advantages include – consistent material properties, high fibre volume,
flexibility in fibre orientation, whereas disadvantages include: high labor cost unless automated.
x Filiment winding- Fibres are wetted in resin bath and wound on a mandrel (wet winding) & are cured by
autoclave or oven (Fig. 3.(b)). Prepreg tape may also me wound. Advantages include – automated
process& low material cost whereas disadvantages include – limited geometry & limited fibre orientation.

Pultrusion – Fibres or cloth wetted in resin bath & pulled through heated die (Fig. 4.(a)). Advantages
include – High production rate & disadvantages include – Limited Geometry & Limited Fibre Orientaton
Nitin Jauhari et al. / Materials Today: Proceedings 2 (2015) 2868 – 2877 2873

a. b.

Fig. 3. (a)Prepreg Tape Laying; (b)Filiment Winding.

a. b.

Fig.4. (a) Pultrusion; (b) Resin Transfer Moulding.

Fig.5. (a) Compression Moulding; (b)Thermoforming.


x Resin transfer moulding- Reinforcement is placed between two parts of mould. Resin is injected in mould
& heat applied (Fig. 4.(b)). Advantages include- accurate moulded surfaces & reduced part count, whereas
disadvantages include – low fibre volume , variability of material property through part & High labor to
assemble/disassemble performs & tools.
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x Compression Moulding- Moulding compound placed in matched die moulding, & pressure & heat applied
by mould (Fig.5. (a)). Advantages include increased production rate & expensive tooling.
x Thermoforming – Thermoplastic material is placed in mould & Material is consolidated with heat &
pressure(Fig.5. (b)). Advantages include- Flexibility in fibre orientation, high fibre volume, consistent
material properties, improved material toughness, easily repairable; whereas disadvantages include- High
material cost & High processing temperature.

2.2 Stacking Sequence:

Laminate stacking sequence involves stacking of the lamina as per the fibre orientation. Sequencing depends upon
the following characterization.
x Balancedlaminate - All angle plies (excluding 0⁰ or 90⁰) must occur in pairs, through not necessarily
adjacent.
x Symmetric Laminate - Stacking of plies is mirror image about the midplane e.g. [0⁰/+_45⁰/90⁰]sis a 8
layered laminate with fibre orientation as [0⁰ +45⁰ -45⁰ 90⁰ | 90⁰ -45⁰ +45⁰ 0⁰].
Generally the laminate should be balanced & symmetric
x Unbalanced laminate induces shear/twist when applying axial load.
x Unsymmetric laminate induces bending when applying axial load.Part may warp during processing if
not balanced & symmetric.

2.3. Failure Criteria:

Failure of Fibre reinforced laminates can be characterized experimentally by the failure tests as per the fibre
angle orientation & load type taking into account the following material properties, as stated in the Table 3
below:

Table 3. FRP Failure Tests.


Fibre Angle Orientation Load Test Type Material Properties
0⁰ Tension Pressurized NOL E11, σ11,ε11,ν12
Ring, Pressurized
Tube (90⁰ Wind)
90⁰ Tension Tube( 90⁰ Wind) E22, σ22,ε22,ν21
0⁰ Compression Flat Laminate (0⁰) E11, σ11,ε11,ν12
90⁰ Compression Tube (90⁰ Wind) E22, σ22,ε22,ν21
In-Plane Shear Torsion Tube (90⁰ G12, σ12, ν12
Wind)
Transverse Shear Iosipescu G23, σ23, ν23

2.3.1 Tension Tests: Specimens are tested as per ASTM D3039 - Standard Test Method for Tensile Properties
of Fibre Composites.
a. b.

Fig.6. (a)Tension Tests; (b) Compression Tests.


Nitin Jauhari et al. / Materials Today: Proceedings 2 (2015) 2868 – 2877 2875

Properties Derived :
x Longitudinal Tensile Strength
x Longitudinal Tensile Modulus
x Poisson’s Ratio
x Transverse Tensile Modulus
x Transverse Tensile Strength.

2.3.2. Compression Tests:Specimens are tested as per ASTM D3410- Standard Test Method For Compressive
properties of Unidirectional or cross plyfibre-resin composites.
Properties derived:
x Longitudinal compressive modulus
x Longitudinal compressive strength
x Transverse compressive modulus
x Transverse compressive strength.

2.3.3. In-Plane Shear Tests:Specimens are tested in longitudinal direction using Iosipescu shear specimen.

Fig.7. In-Plane Shear Tests.


Properties derived:
x Shear Modulus
x Shear Strength

3. Finite element analysis:

The most important characteristic of a FRP/Composite material is its layered configuration. Each layer may be made
of a different orthotropic material and may have its principal directions oriented differently. For laminated
composites, the fibre directions determine layer orientation.The layered configuration is defined by specifying
individual layer propertiesfrom bottom to top. The bottom layer is designated as layer 1, and additional layers are
stacked from bottom to top in the positive Z (normal) direction of the element coordinate system. Only half of the
layers need to be definedif stacking symmetry exists.At times, a physical layer will extend over only part of the
model – Ply Drop-Off Laminate. In order to model continuous layers, these dropped layers may be modeled with
zero thickness. Figure shows a model with four layers, the second of which is dropped over part of the model(Fig.8.)

Fig.8. Ply Drop-Off Laminate.

For each layer, the following properties are specified in the element real constants accessed with real attributes:
x Material Properties
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x Layer orientation angle


x Layer thickness

3.1.Ply drop-off laminate model


Here a ply drop-off laminate (Table 4) is defined between the laminate A, [90/0]s, and the laminate B, [90/0]. The
ply drop-off ratio being 1:20 & the lamina thickness being 0.75 mm. A composite strip 120 mm long and 100mm
wide is considered under tension N=10N/mm applied to the bottom edges on the strip. Symmetry is used to model ½
of the tape (1 Ever J.Barbero. 2014).

Table 4. Carbon/Epoxy Composite AS4D/9310 Material Properties


E1 E2 E3 G12 G23 G13 ν12 ν23 ν13 ρ
133.86 GPa 7.706 7.706 4.306 2.76 4.306 0.301 0.396 0.301 1.52 g/cc
GPa GPa GPa GPa GPa

A model (shown below) (Fig.9.) is developed in ANSYS, using SHELL elements SHELL 181, three different
sections are defined, one for A, one for B, and one section to model the plydrop-off between them. The thickness
difference between both laminates is 0.7*2 = 1.5 mm. Therefore, the total length of plydrop-off being 1.5*20 =
30mm. Every 15 mm there will be a section change. The bottom layer is designated as layer #1 & additional layers
are stacked from bottom to top in the positive normal direction of the element coordinate system.

Fig.9.Ply Drop-Off Laminate FEM Model.


The resultant deflection in ply drop - off laminate comes to be 4.541 mm & is shown in figure below(Fig .10.)

Fig .10.Ply Drop-Off Laminate Deflection

3.2 Results & Discussion


Various parameters like deflection, stresses, strains on application of load (along the ply drop-off
length nodes) are displayed in following graphs.(Fig. 11.(a),(b)), (Fig.12.)As can be seen from the
graphs, the variation of resultant deflection (Fig.11.(a)), on application of load (along the ply drop-off length nodes)
is continuous gradual increment. Variation of von mises stresses (Fig.11.(b)), being a non-continuous step
increment, where stresses have a slow, nearly constant rate of increment for the initial length part of plydrop-off,
then a linear increment, around midlength(ply drop-off) , briefly constant & again linear increment, finally being
constant after the midlength of ply drop-off achieving a maximum value. Variation of von mises strain (Fig.12.) is
quite non continuous with strain initially increasing & then sudden decrease becoming zero near midlength(ply
drop-off) & again sudden linear increment , finally being constant after midlength achieving a maximum value. As
compared to normal metals, FRPs for example - plydrop-offs display a behaviour (as can be seen from graphs)
which can be linked to higher stiffness, & strength per unit weight, higher fatigue & corrosion resistance
Nitin Jauhari et al. / Materials Today: Proceedings 2 (2015) 2868 – 2877 2877

a. b.

Fig.11. (a) Deflection Graph; (b) Stress GraphFig.12. Strain Graph


4.Conclusion
This paper reviews various natural fibres, their physical properties, fibre fabric types, fabrication methods , stacking
sequence & failure criteria. Fibre Reinforced Plastics(FRPs) possess high stiffness, strength, fatigue damage
tolerance, fatigue strength to weight ratios, low coefficient of thermal expansion , low corrosion, high internal
damping (better vibrational energy absorption), damage being internal can be checked only by non destructive
testing & can be arrested on application of protective coating on the surface. Also FRPs, have low maintenance cost
& number of parts are less along with low tooling cost.
In comparison with metal matrix composites which absorb moisture from surroundings & undergo
dimensionalchanges as well as internal stresses, FRPs present better scope for example in spacecrafts, around 40%
weight savings on usage of FRPs leads to enormous savings in fuel costs.
Acknowledgements
Author expresses gratitude to his research guide’s “Dr. Raghvendra Kumar Mishra” (Assoc. Professor ,SOE,
Gautam Buddha University) & co-guide “Dr. Harishchandra Thakur” (Asstt. Professor ,SOE, Gautam Buddha
University) , guidance on analytical work using ANSYS &acknowledges the support of GBU, Gautam Buddh
Nagar(U.P)and IPEC , Ghaziabad (U.P) for funding the current research in this area.
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