OVERVIEW OF COMPOSITE MATERIALS

Theodore J. Reinhart

1

1 1 INTRODUCTION .

Composite materials are macroscopic combinations of two or more distinct materials having a discrete and recognizable interface separating them. Thus composites are heterogeneous materials, and many are naturally occurring; the most common is wood. The composites of interest in this discussion, however, are the synthetic, man-made materials, possessing high strength and/or stiffness relative to weight which are used in high performance structural applications because of these properties. Figure 1.1 shows the strength- and stiffness-to-weight relationships for several fibers when arrayed in unidirectional laminates. The narrower definition of composites becomes more specific and can be restricted to those combinations of materials that contain high strength/stiffness fiber reinforcements supported by a high performance matrix material. Fibers and matrix materials may be organic or inorganic in chemical make up. Normally the fibrous reinforcement material is referred to as the discontinuous phase and the matrix material as the continuous phase. The primary engineering properties of the composite are derived predominantly from the mechanical and physical properties of the discontinuous phase, the fiber reinforcement. These are the fiber-dominated properties of the composite. Increasing the fiber volume

fraction results in increases in the levels of mechanical properties up to the point where there is insufficient matrix material to support the fibers and to transfer load within the composite. The matrix is the adhesive binder that supports the fibers under compressive loads, provides shear capabilities in two dimensional fiber lay-ups, and transfers loads internally in the composite among the myriad fibers and fiber bundles that comprise the load-carrying portions of the composite material. In twodimensional composites the matrix provides the basic resistance to impact damage and delamination.

Handbook of Composites. Edited by S.T. Peters. Published in 1998by Chapman & Hall, London. ISBN 0 412 54020 7

Fig. 1 1 Plot o specific tensile strength to specific . f tensile modulus for commercially available composites.

With perhaps the exception of ceramic matrix composites. which may be converted. Complicating the straightforward classification are the forms of the reinforcement. . Figure 1. The classes of fiberreinforced composites are usually related to the form of the fibrous reinforcing material and include continuous. .2 shows the wide range of composite constituent materials. The largest volume usage of structural composites in industrial. The available levels of engineering properties are governed by fiber length. Thus these composites will be emphasized throughout this volume.22 Overview of composite materials Matrix materials may be selected from metallic. before or after impregnation with the matrix. such as woven. High performance composites offer combinations of engineering properties which cannot be achieved using homogeneous metallic alloy structural materials such as aluminum. braided. thus forming a discontinuous phase of particles within the continuous matrix phase of the composite. There are many exceptions or perhaps special cases to these statements. All of the above are possible and each provides a unique set of engineering properties. Many organic resin matrix materials are modified to increase toughness by the addition of small amounts of rubber base or thermoplastic modifiers. and may provide a higher level of these properties. This large and comprehensive R&D program to develop composites was initiated in response to a general RESIN TYPE RElNFORCEMENT TYPE LONG CONTINUOUS FIBER PLACEMENT PROCESS --- \ ' MAT -===I:----. commercial and military applications is based upon resin matrix fiberreinforced composites. and manufacturing and fabrication options. ceramic and organic resin materials. knitted and orthogonal arrays of reinforcements. Decreases in fiber length are accompanied by a decline in composite engineering properties. At some point in this fiber length decrease the composite properties will approach those of a system filled with particulate materials. titanium and steel. 1 2 Display of composite constituent materials and manufacturing options. long discontinuous and short discontinuous fiber-reinforced composites.PULTRUSION COMPRESSION MOLDING INJECTION MOLDING THERMOPLASTIC PARTICULATE *TRANSFER MOLDING THERMOSTAMPING Fig. Continuous fiber-reinforced composites are normally fabricated via a ply by ply lay-up technique resulting in a laminar (layered) construction. to a three-dimensional composite. High performance composite materials were developed by the US Air Force Materials Laboratory in a systematic search for structural materials that could offer weight savings over the conventional materials. the matrix material is not as strong or as stiff as the discontinuous phase or fiber material. unwoven. fiber orientation and fiber volume fraction. but prior to consolidation and cure. Continuous and long discontinuous fiber-reinforced composites offer maximum levels of translation of fiber properties into useful composite engineering properties. aerospace.

when the fibers are combined with a matrix into a near quasi-isotropic lay-up. graphite and other compositions resulted in a technological breakthrough and provided a new class of structural materials called ’Advanced Composites’. The search for higher modulus glass fibers met with only limited success. the specific properties are greatly reduced but are still superior compared to conventional homogeneous metallic materials. Figure 1. propagation and growth of flaws. Sporting and recreational applications including golf club shafts. Fiberglass reinforced resin base composites have been used successfully in filament wound rocket motor cases as well as in various other aircraft and missile applications. All structural materials fail mechanically because of the formation. more expensive to manufacture and assemble and more difficult to inspect when compared to conventional structural metallic materials. carbon. to corrosion resistant piping and construction. (Kevlar 49) aramid. while presently decreasing. have found significant commercial. Fibers are inherently stronger than the bulk form of a material for a number of reasons. However. aluminum and titanium materials. and the commercial airplane producers. Since composite construction provides very large numbers of load-carrying fibers. more expensive and complicated to design with. more difficult to characterize. Fiberglass reinforced composites in general lacked the stiffness that is desired in h g h performance structural applications in aircraft. titanium or steel. Military applications. to large and small water craft. and in the civil engineering infrastructure arena are and will continue to be an unrealized goal for advanced composite materials at least in the near term. initially put to broad use in the 1950s. recreational.% fiber content. and skis. specifically Boeing and Aerospaciale. both organic and inorganic in nature. fishing rods. missiles and spacecraft. both air and ground. The wide variety of materials that can be combined to form composites having highly acceptable levels of . Advanced composites have found extensive applications in many areas where cost is secondary to performance. boron and the many types of carbon fibers produced commercially possess specific properties (strength/density) and (modulus/density) many times greater than structural alloys of aluminum. high stiffness fiber materials. for use in high performance composite applications. These are calculated values based upon literature fiber values and 65 vol. More recent developments have led to the commercialavailability of a wide range of high strength. Two major reasons are (i) the fiber’s small diameter with the probability of fewer flaws and (ii) the opportunity to align or preferentially orient molecular or crystal structure. Inexpensive fiberglass reinforced plastic composites. Fibrous materials such S-glass. catastrophic failure requires the failure of many fibers. and military applications. Advanced composite materials. Spectra. It can readily be seen that these high performance fiber materials form the basis for the advanced composites technology.lntroduction 23 call from the using communities for structural materials that could reduce weight and reduce corrosion and fatigue problems in aircraft components.1 plots the specific tensile strength versus the specific tensile modulus for a number of unidirectional composites and compares them to steel. are found in a variety of industrial and consumer products from automotive and truck applications. The service performance of these materials in the above and many other applications has been highly satisfactory. will continue to be a market for advanced composites. while basically more expensive as a raw material. a highly useful engineering form of the material. This situation then provides many early warning signs when significant damage is accumulating in a fiber-reinforced composite structure. Large scale applications in transportation. however the use of boron. have provided a significant market and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

design factors.and S-glasses are the experience in service. High sileficial silane coupling agents.for tensile strength and 72. Quartz fibers typically have . Many improvements to high silica and quartz fibers produced commerglass fiber composites have been made over the cially for highly specialized applications in years including the development of hghly ben. These fibers contain upwards of durability far exceeding earlier composites. high pressure gas tions. Glass formulations producing filaments of posites was based on glass fiber reinforcement. handling and processing ability. Specific 4600 MPa (670 ksi) and 85.5 x lo6psi) cial scale was the enabling technology that for Young’s modulus. seagoing applications ing point are higher than E-glass. appliances. 95% silica. avail.2 GLASS FIBERS for individual filaments are 3450 MPa (500 ksi) The development of glass fibers on a commer.characteristics. nearly all forms of recre.is E-glass. however the glass fiber quartz rods using oxy-hydrogen or laser heatsurface is sensitive to moisture attack under ing sources.found to be toxic (beryllium glasses) or very tions including low performance non-structural high melting and difficult to handle in comapplications as well as high performance struc. The technology developed using glass applications involve. provide a higher level fibers and then consolidating the fibers by a of engineering properties and environmental heat treatment. decorative panels. modulus and meltand rail transportation. ship and boat hulls. The applications range from a higher percentage of alumina compared to the building construction trades. S-glass fibers contain tural applications. Glass fiber composites provide high levels of Quartz fibers are drawn from mineral engineering properties. This introduction will present the basic thoroughly investigated by researchers in the materials. The glass fiber that is the industry standard fabrication methods used in the manufacture and assembly of advanced composite compo.3 is due to many factors. Average mechanical property levels 1. Filament strength. Figure 1.rocket motors and electrical windows.mercial scale equipment. truck E-glass.resulted in many high performance applicaational equipment. which is a calcium aluminoborosilicate formulation having very good mechanical nents.24 Overview of composite materials engineering properties can make the selection certain threshold stress levels.shows the installation of a large commercial ability. Typical including high performance racing craft and filament strength and stiffness are close to commercial and military aerospace. The phenomenon known as stress-rupture failure has been of specific materials a challenging task. including: cost. to auto. material forms and industry and government.4 GPa (10. useful fiberglass composite pipe. and electrical characteristics at very reasonable cost. and was the start of the effort to develop containers and rocket motor casings. Extensive research has allowed the glass fiber-reinforced organic been conducted to develop glass fibers posresin matrix composite industry to begin. The sessing higher strength and stiffness initial understanding of organic matrix com.4 x lo6psi). These agents.95% silica. ica fibers are produced by chemically leaching which can be tailored for compatibility with the highly soluble components from E-glass almost any resin matrix. Glass fiber composites of all descriptions increased strength and stiffness have been have found extensive and successful applica. This wide stronger and stiffer fibers to meet high perforspread use of glass fiber-reinforced organic mance structural needs in commercial and composites and their continued future growth military aerospace applications. properties and characteristics and past good Closely related to the E. light aircraft and fiber-reinforced resin matrix composites glider construction. Commercially available fibers are certain conditions of exposure and above 99.5 GPa (12.

fibers. 1. The process. shown in Fig. The production of carbon/graphite fibers is well suited to large scale continuous operation where economies of scale operate effectively and the stability of operating conditions provides a narrow band of fiber mechanical properties. Although the most widely utilized in high performance potential for low cost exists. US manufactured pitch base carbon and cial and industrial applications.Carbon/graphitefibers 25 < - 4 Fig.4 Conceptualized production process for carmercially by the thermal decomposition of bon fiber manufacture. these prevented the production of really low cost materials have found wide-spread commer. Primarily developed ing steps involved in the pitch treatment have for military aerospace applications.3 CARBON/GRAPHITE FIBERS form the organic precursor into a highly The search for advanced fibers led to the ordered carbon or graphitic structure. complex processresin base composites. and graphite fibers are also produced from These fibers are currently the best known and pitch base precursor materials.ulus. These materials are now available on a world wide basis at competitive prices and are now experiencing increasing levels of interest for applications such as commercial aerospace. have ety of fibers having various levels of engineering properties at costs once thought unachievable. up to 830GPa (120 x 106psi). Carbon fibers are produced com. to trans1. . Carbon development of carbon and graphite fibers. similar mechanical properties as the E-glass materials but have a much higher melting point. organic precursor fibers such as rayon or polyacrylonitrile (PAN).3 Underwater installation of a large fiberglasscomposite pipe. This situation graphite fibers while having a very high modhas resulted in the availability of a wide vari.4.Fig. ground transportation and the infrastructure. 1. 1. involves highly controlled steps including heat treatment and tension.

1.I.4. low fiber compression capabilities have limited organic fiber composites Continuing research into the various other rigid rod molecule fiber forming polymers including the spinning of polyethylene fibers by Allied Chemical Co. Advances in PAN precursor carbon fiber technology have resulted in cost reductions and properties increases which have improved the status of these materials in high performance structural applications. in the 1960s.3 PBO AND PBT FIBERS High modulus high strength organic fibers have been prepared by the Air Force Materials Laboratory from the rigid rod molecules of poly (p-phenylene benzobisoxazole) (PBO) and poly (p-phenylene benzobisthiazole) . Spectra fiber.8%) cannot provide. Combined with its lower density and high levels of properties. 1. Inc. Although organic polymer fibers can be produced that have fiber tensile strength and modulus values approaching the mid-range carbon fibers. Recreational uses of this material include ship sails and lines. Aramid fibers are highly damage.4. PAN base carbon fibers are now commercially available having modulus values of 280450 GPa (40-65 x lo6psi) and tensile strengths of 4140-5170 MPa (600-750 h i ) and some versions up to 6890 MPa (1000 ksi) in tensile strength. The new high strength. 1. compression is the design controlling factor. This material has found use in combat equipment for both ground troops and aviators. The high tensile strength and low density of aramid fibers allowed applications in filament wound pressure vessels and rocket motor cases replacing S-glass. Other applications involved aramid usage in lightly loaded secondary structures on commercial aircraft and helicopters. High fiber elongation has long been considered a very desirable trait. very lightweight structures resulted. high modulus carbon fibers have smaller diameters thus requiring higher levels of support from the resin under compression loading.26 Overview of composite materials demonstrated low tensile properties and thus have not been seriously considered for high performance structural applications. In many instances in aerospace applications. high strength. Thus. relatively low adhesion to most resin matrix materials. a high performance product spun from polyethylene offers high abrasion resistance.and cut-resistant and provide high levels of damage tolerance to composite components. low compression properties and difficult machining compared to other composites.4. the limiting factor becomes resin shear modulus and the newer fibers have not resulted in increased levels of compression strength in the composite. Issues in the use of these fibers have involved moisture absorption by the fiber.1 ARAMID applications in high performance structural applications.2 OTHER ORGANIC FIBERS Aramid is a generic term for the class of aromatic-polyamide fibers produced using para-phenylene terephthalamide. DuPont de Nemours & Co. Competing fibers are now produced in Europe and Asia. and high modulus at a very low density. Since high strain fibers must be coupled with a tough matrix resin the availability of these fibers has stimulated the introduction of new formulations of high elongation resin matrix materials. reducing structural weight compared to glass composites. Applications of Spectra are limited to temperatures of about 120°C (250°F) due to its low crystallite melting point. and others has resulted in high performance organic fibers that are finding specialized and general commercial applications. Elongations of 2% and above are highly desirable and provide toughness in the composite that low elongation fibers (<l..4 ORGANIC FIBERS 1. These materials were introduced by E.

The resulting fibers have excellent posites due to their poor compressive strength (3450 MPa or 500 ksi) and stiffness (400GPa or 58 x 106psi)). metal matrix composites.However. and reduced reacphosphoric acid.substrate. These polymers in general are diffiBoron-epoxy composites have been used in cult to process into fiber due to their the sporting goods industry and boron fibers infusability and insolubility in anything have been used in metal matrix composites except the most powerful organic solvents (MMC) because of their excellent mechanical such as methanesulfonic acid or concentrated properties.6 OTHER INORGANIC FIBERS first high performance reinforcement for use in structural composite materials. because performance and relatively high cost. available with silicon carbide or modulus may in some instances be competitive boron carbide coatings that acted as diffusion with carbon fibers the transverse properties of barriers. thermal stability. These rigid rod polymers yield high technology. Force F-15 and the US Navy F-14 fighter air.5 BORON FIBERS fibers cannot compete with carbon fibers on Boron fiber in organic resin matrices was ini. molecule fibers. Aluminum oxide fibers are produced costs of the composite structure.Continuous filament forms of other inorganic cation of these fibers was found on the US Air fibers are also now commercially available. Boron fibers are produced as a rather large In compression and flexure the low transverse properties result in low mechanical properties monofilament fiber or 'wire' (100-200 pm or in composites of PBO and PBT fibers. tially developed by the Air Force Materials Laboratory in the early 1960s and became the 1. carbon-epoxy composites still modulus fibers due to their high degree of cannot compare in compression properties to aromaticity.Silicon carbide (Sic) fiber is produced from craft.no longer commercially available because silities. boron 1. both the precursor gases and the manufacturing process are inherently expensive.Other inorganicfibers 27 (PBT). the enormous changeover costs involved in Advanced forms of ceramic fibers are now such a project and the limited production under intensive development for use in metal quantities of these aircraft remaining to be matrix composites for high temperature turproduced it has been determined that return bine engine applications. tivity with the matrix (compared to carbon The h g h axial molecular orientation whch fibers). While tensile strength and until recently. the chain. and linearity in those of boron-epoxy. Subsequent studies duced from an organic borosilane precursor have found that carbon-epoxy composites that is spun and pyrolyzed to produce silicon could be utilized in these aircraft to reduce carbide. Early appli. high planarity. In tension the axial characteristics con carbide fibers are now replacing boron in dominate and excellent properties are achieved. Boron composites in honeycomb CVD of Sic by a method similar to that used in structure were utilized in the empennage boron fiber production. on investment costs would not be achieved. In order to prevent reaction between leads to extreme anisotropy of mechanical the boron fiber and the molten metal matrix properties is a distinctive feature of rigid rod during MMC production.the basis of cost. boron fibers were. In spite of the advances made in carbon fiber . Sic fibers are also prostructure of these aircraft. Considering in both the mono and polycrystalline forms. Boron fibers with these coatings are the fiber are less than 20% of the axial proper. 4-8 mils) by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) High modulus organic fibers have not of boron onto a tungsten or pyrolyzed carbon found serious applications in structural com.

Nevertheless. including chemicallv resistant pipinn and reactors. in addition to those mentioned above. when the composite is under load. Although there are applications of high performance fiberglass composites in military and aerospace structures. bathtubs and showers and automobile hoods. bismaleimide. and may also control its environmental resistance. Although epoxies are sensitive to moisture they are generally superior to polyesters in resisting other environmental influences. truck cabs I I " J - Epoxy resin R&D has provided a rich and high performing family of resin materials that have found extensive commercial and aerospace applications. and transportation applications. the matrix resin provides many essential functions. curing agents. resins may microcrack and craze. In continuous multifilament composites the fiber dominated properties form the basis for useful engineering properties of the material. especially because resins do not presently exist that allow utilization of the stresses that the fibers are able to withstand. and provides all of the interlaminar shear strength of the composite. Thus the matrix is the 'weak link' in the composite. and other components provide a tremendous range of possible properties. and to protect them from environments and handling. the matrix keeps the reinforcing fibers in the proper orientation and position so that they can carry the intended loads. Thus. combined with the comparatively large cure shrinkage of these resins. and generally break down at composite strains far lower than desired. The problems of attaining adequate adhesion to carbon and aramid fibers have discouraged the development of applications for polyester or vinyl ester composites that use these fibers. and . Furthermore. the matrix generally determines the overall service temperature limitations of the composite.7 MATRICES As stated above.28 Overview of composite materials and bodies. In such composites the matrix material is subjected to high levels of strain magnification caused by the close proximity of the fiber and fiber bundles and becomes subject to failure by cracking. distributes the loads more or less evenly among the fibers. These enhanced characteristics have been the major factors in the widespread use of these composites today. provides resistance to crack propagation and damage. Epoxy resins have demonstrated a tendency to absorb moisture both in the green or uncured and the cured stages.8 EPOXY RESINS 1. to transfer load to and between fibers. 1. appliances. form larger cracks through coalescence of microcracks. Polyester and vinyl ester resins are the most widely used of all matrix materials. The development of highly effective silane coupling agents for glass fibers allowed the fabrication of glass fiber reinforced polyester and vinyl ester composites having excellent mechanical properties and acceptable environmental durability. have generally restricted such composites to lower-performance applications. industrial. debond from the fiber surface. the relatively poor properties of advanced composites of polyester and vinyl ester resins when used with other fibers. decks. and thermoplastic materials to be covered later in this introduction. They are utilized mainly in commercial. and doors. chemically resistant and heat resistant. with general-purpose polyester and vinyl ester resin composites being the most widely used by far. The very large number of resin formulations. the purpose of the composite matrix is to bind the fibers together by virtue of its cohesive and adhesive characteristics. This property poses engineering limitations and resulted in the development of the cyanate. fillers. Thermoplastic and toughened thermosetting matrices have been developed that allow increased composite strain levels but still do not provide for full fiber property translation. The resulting resin systems include such types as general purpose.

its imposition has tial data base exists for epoxy resins since both generally avoided unwanted service experience the US Air Force and the US Navy have been problems. ease of manufacture. and acceptable limits (for conservative engineering practice) cost. cyanate resins from a number of commercial A L u no I r rF- r i (c -71 e- \ TE STRUCTUR€ '. composite mechanical sition temperature (Tg) of the material and properties. Even though No degradation of the composite materials the elongation to failure of most cured epoxies has been observed even after over 20 years of is relatively low. a substan. While this elongation capabilities. In addition. pro. .5 and 1. 1.epoxy resins causes a decrease in the glass trancessing flexibility.9 CYANATE RESINS satisfactory.6 show epoxy composite applications on the AV-8B horizontal The more recent commercial availability of stabilizer and forward fuselage.use limitatio$is conservative.Cyanate resins 29 offer better mechanical properties. Figures. and the in-service experience with these components has been very 1. epoxies provide an attractive service exposure. components since 1972.7 shows the range of comflying aircraft with epoxy matrix structural posite applications on the C-5 cargo aircraft.TOROUF BOX LOWER SKIN WITH INTFGRAL SPARS Fig. The moisture absorption of combination of handling characteristics. Recent developments include modified epoxy resins to use at temperatures not exceedepoxy resin formulations that have improved ing the wet T of the cured material. 15 Application of epoxy composites to the horizontal stabilizer of the AV-8B aircraft. . Figure 1.

6 Application of epoxy composites to the forward fuselage of the AV-8B aircraft. The BMI materials have been selected for structural applications on the US Air Force F-22 fighter in combination with carbon fiber reinforcements. Applications in . They are superior to Polyimide resins including the PMR (Polymerization of Monomeric Reactants) and acetylene terminated versions are available and possess service temperature capabilities. ease of handling and manufacture and good engineering properties.10 BISMALEIMIDE RESINS epoxies in maximum hot/wet use temperature.30 Overview of composite materials Fig. The lack of a data base and manufacturing experience base tend to inhibit the introduction of the cyanate materials into new systems. 1. Thus they possess better electrical characteristicsand are not subjected to the so called hot/wet Tg service temperature reduction. They are available from a number of suppliers. toughness. sources has provided a matrix material generally tougher and far more moisture resistant compared to epoxies. extending the safe in-service temperature to 205-220°C (400430°F) or higher. close to 260°C (500°F). 1.11 OTHER THERMOSETTING RESINS BMIs have a very competitive set of features including. 1. in air. moisture resistance.

but organic solvent resistance is an area of concern for the noncrystalline thermoplastics. the mechanical properties obtained from the The thermoplastic resin materials include various techniques currently available for fabpolyether ether ketone (PEEK). Lack of toughness and difficulty in handling and in manufacture characterize this family of heat resistant organic matrix materials.polyether ketone ketone (PEKK) and several others.Thermoplastic resins 31 Nonstructural parts. military turbine engine casings (liners) and electronics form the major present day applications for these materials.polyphenylene ricating thermoplastic matrix composites. Most thermoplastic matrices do not absorb any significant amount of water. that allow thermoforming and other forms of including effort to determine and understand rapid manufacture to be utilized. weight saving: 1997 kg (4398 lb). 1 7 Composite applications on the C-5 cargo aircraft. troop seats A 7 v 0 Carbon/Epoxy Carbon/Kevlar/Epoxy m GFRP/Nornexcore m Kevlar/foarn core Kevlar/Nomex CarbonlNornex Fig. total weight of composites: 7167 kg (15 787 lb). fabrication. they low-cost manufacture of thermoplastic matrix also are the only matrices currently available composites have been extensively studied. liners. .heat and pressure. Because thermoplastic matrices have an unlimited shelf life before molding (unlike thermosetting matrices). thermoplastic matrix comtalline thermoplastic materials have been posites also offer the possibility of lower-cost thoroughly evaluated for use as matrix resins. and because they can 1. . the potential of improved hot/wet resistance. However. cross-linking or thermal Thermoplastic matrix materials are generally degradation with repeated temperature tougher than most thermoset resins and offer cycling is a concern with most of the systems.12 THERMOPLASTIC RESINS potentially be remolded by the application of The families of amorphous and semicrys. sulfide (PPS). The fabrication procedures necessary for the Because of their high strains to failure.

Prepreg Fig. controlled resin flow during the cure process. .8) that successfully circumnavigated the earth non-stop. Using prepregs rather than in-line impregnation of the fibers during the final composite fabrication process can offer significant advantages. in some processes. and. subelement and element fabrication test and failure analysis. Prepregs can have very precisely controlled fiber/resin ratios. better control of fiber angle and placement. 1 8 All composite Voyager aircraft. tooling and suppliers. An example of combining these diverse building blocks was the rapid design and manufacture of the all composite Voyager air- Reinforcing fibers are commercially available in many product forms including monofilaments for fibers such as boron on silicon carbide to multifilament fiber bundles. etc. 1 1 DESIGN PHILOSOPHY . The database is obtained by a thorough program of coupon. 1. These same forms are available combined with the matrix resin of choice for a particular component. highly controlled tack and drape (in the case of thermoset matrices).14 MATERIAL FORMS The design of a high performance composite structural component should be based upon a thorough understanding of the service conditions to be encountered. 1. The 'building block' approach has been found successful in the design of both aircraft and spacecraft structural components. .32 Overview of composite materials Thermoplastic composites are deemed to be a mature technology and will compete with other composites on a properties and cost basis. The building block program must account for properties in the as-manufactured article including variables induced by worker skill levels. A comprehensive properties data base is required for this process.3 craft (Fig. Product forms include unidirectional ribbons and broadgoods up to 152 cm (60 ins) wide to single and multiple layer fabrics and mats that may or may not be stitched in the Z direction.

Materials Delft University Press. New York. FURTHER READING 1. this introduction should have clarified that composites offer tremendous opportunities as well as impressive challenges . For more specific and detailed data and guidelines on these topics. 1992. such as a tube or pressure vessel. production rate. Washington. There are also a number of other fabrication processes that are used including pultrusion. material that is usually in prepreg form is cut and laid up. ed Composite Materials Handbook 2nd edn. P. SPI Composites Institute.. material forms and fabrication processes have been described briefly. parts at reasonable production rates and costs. Delft. tooling cost. 5 . Hand lay-up processes are usually accompanied by a compaction step for each one or more plies that are applied.. numerically controlled equipment is presently available for the lay-up process. and ply orientations. American Society for Materials. In lay-up. such as a wind turbine or helicopter rotor blade.for the designer and manufacturer of high performance components. lntroduction to Composites. 1992. and Peters. resin transfer molding and press curing. low void content. ed. In evaluating cost and quality. This overview chapter was intended as a primer to introduce the reader to composite technology. the designer generally chooses the process that will provide an acceptable quality component for the lowest cost. To select the best composite fabrication process. Only after all the relevant factors have been weighed can the fabrication method (or the material) be selected. the autoclave is the curing tool of choice. This is more an artifact of the tape raw material than it is an equipment limitation. high quality. Fiber and matrix materials. Engineers’ Guide to Composite Materials. For most components produced for aerospace applications. and then used in processes ranging from hand lay-up to highly automated filament winding or machine tape laying. Th. Beukers. 2. High prepreg lay-down rates and fairly low scrap rates are possible. 1992. Pergamon Press. and de Jon. it may be prohibitive for some resin systems (such as thermoplastics).. . layer by layer. The autoclave cure process is chosen for many reasons. 1992. number of plies. D. the reader should consult the technical sections in this volume. and parameters such as fiber/resin ratio may not be as easily controlled as is the case with a prepreg. These processes have found application in the fabrication of various components for aerospace usage.J. McGraw-Hill. Netherlands. Very sophisticated. 1987. most of the existing automatic lay-up processes are quite limited in their ability to produce satisfactory components having complex curvatures. While the latter may be lower in initial cost.15 MANUFACTURING/FABRICATION The most common composite lay-up processes include: hand lay-up.Further reading 33 materials can be produced and stored for future use.M. Concise Encyclopedia o Polymer f Processing and Applications. A. or a more complex shape.W. Lay-up of thermoplastic matrix material is always accompanied by heat and pressure. eds. Schwartz. desired part finish and many other factors must be considered. 4. a fiber bundle or ribbon is impregnated with resin and wound upon a mandrel to produce a simple shape. materials cost. 1. J. however.. fiber placement and machine tape lay-up. normally under refrigeration for thermosetting matrices. However. except filament wound components. In filament winding. Weeton. M. Processes such as pultrusion and braiding can also use prepreg forms instead of in-line resin impregnation. these include: reproducible. 3. SPI. Oxford. design concerns. Corish. However. to produce a laminate of the desired thickness.

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