Effect of fiber prestressing on mechanical properties of glass fiber epoxy composites manufactured by vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding

Academic Article

Abstract

  • The mechanical properties of fiber-reinforced polymer composites depend on several aspects such as the characteristics of constituents, fiber volume fraction, and manufacturing techniques. Fiber prestressing is considered a very attractive manufacturing technique that can be used to produce fiber-reinforced polymer composites with high mechanical properties. This technique has the potential to eliminate or reduce some manufacturing problems like fiber waviness. In the present study, a new approach was used to prepare prestressed fiber-reinforced polymer composites. Unidirectional E-glass fiber-stitched mats were impregnated with epoxy matrix through vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding process. Once the infusion was done, a pre-calculated tensile force was applied to the fiber mats through a hydraulic tensile machine. The impregnated fiber mats were left under tension and vacuum during curing of the epoxy matrix (24 h). Five prestressed samples were prepared by using five different prestressing levels 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100 MPa. In addition, non-prestressed (control) sample was prepared for the purpose of comparison. The influence of fiber prestressing on fiber waviness, fiber volume fraction, and void content was investigated. Flexural, tensile, and compression tests were performed to observe the effect of fiber prestressing on the mechanical properties. The results have shown the success of this new approach in producing prestressed fiber-reinforced polymer composites with high mechanical properties comparing to non-prestressed composites. The microstructure analysis has shown dramatical reduction in fiber waviness for the prestressed samples over control sample. All prestressed samples have shown higher fiber volume fraction and lower void content comparing to the control sample. Also the results have shown as the prestressing level increases, fiber volume fraction increase and void content decreases. Prestressing levels of 40 and 60 MPa were found to be the best candidates, they have led to an increase in tensile strength, compressive strength, and flexural strength by 24.2%, 72.5%, 28% and 28.6%, 100.4%, 26.1%, respectively, comparing to the non-prestressed sample. Ease of implementation and promising results of this new approach would attract the attention toward it. Automotive industry is one potential nominee to apply this approach during manufacturing of fiber-reinforced polymer leaf spring.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mohamed M; Selim MM; Ning H; Pillay S
  • Start Page

  • 21
  • End Page

  • 30
  • Volume

  • 39
  • Issue

  • 1-2