Applied Composite Materials (v.24, #2)

50 Years of Carbon Fibre by Peter Beaumont (271-275).

The University of Manchester, School of Materials has a large multidisciplinary research programme on polymers, composites and carbon-based materials. This takes place through fundamental studies of structure-property relationships for these materials, including controlled synthesis and processing, and effects of structure andnano-, meso- and macro-scale morphology on physical properties and engineering applications.
Keywords: Composites; Graphene; Textiles; Damage tolerance; Non-destructive techniques; SHM

Predictive Model of Graphene Based Polymer Nanocomposites: Electrical Performance by Asimina Manta; Matthieu Gresil; Constantinos Soutis (281-300).
In this computational work, a new simulation tool on the graphene/polymer nanocomposites electrical response is developed based on the finite element method (FEM). This approach is built on the multi-scale multi-physics format, consisting of a unit cell and a representative volume element (RVE). The FE methodology is proven to be a reliable and flexible tool on the simulation of the electrical response without inducing the complexity of raw programming codes, while it is able to model any geometry, thus the response of any component. This characteristic is supported by its ability in preliminary stage to predict accurately the percolation threshold of experimental material structures and its sensitivity on the effect of different manufacturing methodologies. Especially, the percolation threshold of two material structures of the same constituents (PVDF/Graphene) prepared with different methods was predicted highlighting the effect of the material preparation on the filler distribution, percolation probability and percolation threshold. The assumption of the random filler distribution was proven to be efficient on modelling material structures obtained by solution methods, while the through-the –thickness normal particle distribution was more appropriate for nanocomposites constructed by film hot-pressing. Moreover, the parametrical analysis examine the effect of each parameter on the variables of the percolation law. These graphs could be used as a preliminary design tool for more effective material system manufacturing.
Keywords: Graphene; Polymer; Finite element analysis; Electrical conductivity; Nanocomposites; Computational methods; Multi-scale

The Effect of Shear Mixing Speed and Time on the Mechanical Properties of GNP/Epoxy Composites by Edward Pullicino; Wentao Zou; Matthieu Gresil; Costas Soutis (301-311).
The aim of this study was to examine the effect of shear mixing speed and time on the mechanical properties of graphene nanoplatelet (GNP) composites. Shear mixing is cited in the literature as one method of making a good dispersion of nanofillers in a polymer that breaks down agglomerates into smaller particles and in the case of GNP can exfoliate layers of graphene. In this paper 0.1 to 5 wt% GNP was mixed with epoxy at different speeds and for different lengths of time. The composites were then cured and the tensile strength and Young’s modulus was measured. Optical microscopy was performed to examine the dispersion of the GNP in the epoxy. The results show that the shear mixing speed and time affect the size of agglomerates, which has an impact on the mechanical properties of the composite. At 3000 rpm and 2 h of mixing the average size of agglomerate was 26.3 μm (30 % reduction compared to that of 1000 rpm and 1 h duration), the tensile strength of epoxy was not affected by the addition of GNP, while a 12 % increase was recorded for the Young’s modulus. It is also found that functionalisation of the surface of the GNP improves the bond formed between the GNP and the resin that enhances its mechanical properties with no effect on the size of the agglomerates. Acetone was used to improve the GNP dispersion and found that shear mixing 5 wt% of GNP with acetone increases the Young’s modulus up to 3.02 from 2.6 GPa for the neat epoxy, an almost 14 % rise.
Keywords: Nanotechnology; Graphene; Mechanical properties

Effect of pre and Post-Dispersion on Electro-Thermo-Mechanical Properties of a Graphene Enhanced Epoxy by Quentin-Arthur Poutrel; Zixin Wang; Dongyi Wang; Constantinos Soutis; Matthieu Gresil (313-336).
Graphene nanoplatelet (GNP) modified epoxy nanocomposites are becoming attractive to aerospace due to possible improvements in their mechanical, electrical and thermal properties at no weight cost. The process of obtaining reliable material systems provides many challenges, especially at larger scale (a volume effect). This paper reports on the main fabrication stages of GNP-based epoxy composites, namely (i) pre-dispersion, (ii) dispersion, and (iii) post-dispersion. Each stage is developed to show the interest and potential it delivers for property enhancement. Chemical modification of GNP is presented; functionalisation by Triton X-100 shows elastic modulus improvements of the epoxy at low particle content (≤3%). The post-dispersion step as an alignment of GNP into the epoxy by an electrical field is discussed. The electrical conductivity is below the simulated percolation threshold and an improvement of the thermal diffusivity of 220% when compared to non-oriented GNP epoxy sample is achieved. The work demonstrates how the addition of functionalised graphene platelets to an epoxy resin will allow it to act as electrical and thermal conductor rather than as insulator
Keywords: Graphene; Nanocomposites; Electrical conductivity; Thermal conductivity; Alignment; Functionalisation; Dispersion

Influence of Tow Architecture on Compaction and Nesting in Textile Preforms by Z. Yousaf; P. Potluri; P. J. Withers (337-350).
Transverse compression response of tows during processes such as vacuum infusion or autoclave curing has significant influence on resin permeability in fabrics as well as the laminate thickness, fibre volume fraction and tow orientations in the finished composite. This paper reports macro –scale deformations in dry fibre assemblies due to transverse compaction. In this study, influence of weave geometry and the presence of interlacements or stitches on the ply-level compaction as well as nesting have been investigated. 2D woven fabrics with a variety of interlacement patterns - plain, twill and sateen- as well as stitched Non-crimp (NCF) fabrics have been investigated for macro-level deformations. Compression response of single layer and multilayer stacks has been studied as a function of external pressure in order to establish nesting behaviour. It appears that the degree of individual ply compaction and degree of nesting between the plies are influenced by tow architectures. Inter-tow spacing and stitching thread thickness appears to influence the degree of nesting in non-crimp fabrics.
Keywords: Compaction; Weave architecture; Glass fibre reinforced composites; Nesting; Non-crimp fabrics

This study examines the improvement of Interlaminar Fracture Toughness (IFT) of multilayered 3D glass/epoxy textile composites when through thickness reinforcement is introduced. Three stitching techniques have been examined: Modified Lockstitch (ISO-301), Single-yarn Orthogonal-stitch (ISO-205) and Double-yarn Orthogonal-stitch (ISO-205). It was found that the use of class ISO-205 manual-type stitched reinforcement significantly enhanced the Mode I-IFT, GIC measured using a Double Cantilever Beam technique. Furthermore, in every case, the use of class ISO-205 stitching and high stitch densities offer a significant improvement of 74.5 % on Mode I-IFT against interlaminar delamination.
Keywords: Mode I interlaminar fracture toughness; Delamination resistance; Stitching; Glass/epoxy composite

Investigating the Potential of Using Off-Axis 3D Woven Composites in Composite Joints’ Applications by Mohamed Nasr Saleh; Ying Wang; Arief Yudhanto; Adam Joesbury; Prasad Potluri; Gilles Lubineau; Constantinos Soutis (377-396).
The effect of circular notch has been evaluated for three different architectures of three-dimensional (3D) carbon fibre woven composites (orthogonal, ORT; layer-to-layer, LTL; angle interlock, AI) through open-hole quasi-static tension and double-lap bearing strength tests in the off-axis (45°) direction. Damage characterisation is monitored using Digital Image correlation (DIC) for open-hole testing and X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) for double-lap bearing strength test. The off-axis notched 3D woven composites exhibits minor reduction (less than 10 %) of the notched strength compared to the un-notched strength. DIC strain contour clearly show stress/strain localisation regions around the hole periphery and stress/strain redistribution away from the whole due to the z-binder existence, especially for ORT architecture. Up to 50 % bearing strain, no significant difference in the bearing stress/bearing strain response is observed. However when ORT architecture was loaded up to failure, it demonstrates higher strain to failure (~140 %) followed by AI (~105 %) and lastly LTL (~85 %). X-ray CT scans reveal the effect of the z-binder architecture on damage evolution and delamination resistance. The study suggests that off-axis loaded 3D woven composites, especially ORT architecture, has a great potential of overcoming the current challenges facing composite laminates when used in composite joints’ applications.
Keywords: Three-dimensional (3D) woven composites; Digital image correlation (DIC); X-ray computed tomography (CT); Damage mechanics

Tensile Response of Hoop Reinforced Multiaxially Braided Thin Wall Composite Tubes by Sree Shankhachur Roy; Prasad Potluri; Constantinos Soutis (397-416).
This paper presents the tensile response of thin-walled composite tubes with multi-axial fibre architecture. A hybrid braid-wound layup has the potential to optimise the composite tube properties, however, stacking sequence plays a role in the failure mechanism. A braid-winding method has been used to produce stacked overwound braid layup [(±45°/0°)5/90°4]T. Influence of stacking sequence on premature failure of hoop layers has been reported. Under tensile loading, a cross-ply composite tube with the alternate stacking of hoop and axial fibre show hoop plies splitting similar to the overwound braided composite tube. However, splitting has been restricted by the surrounding axial plies and contained between the adjacent axial fibre tows. This observation suggests hoop layers sandwiched between braid layers will improve structural integrity. A near net shape architecture with three fibre orientation in a triaxial braid will provide additional support to prevent extensive damage for plies loaded in off-axis. Several notable observations for relatively open braid structures such as tow scissoring, high Poisson’s ratio and influence of axial tow crimp on the strain to failure have been reported. Digital Image Correlation (DIC) in conjunction with surface strain gauging has been employed to capture the strain pattern.
Keywords: Braid; Filament winding; Braid-winding; Hoop; Axial; Triaxial; Composite; Tube; Tensile; DIC; Surface strain; Crimp; Stacking

Numerical and Experimental Investigation of the Hydrostatic Performance of Fibre Reinforced Tubes by S. Pavlopoulou; S. S. Roy; M. Gautam; L. Bradshaw; P. Potluri (417-448).
The increasing demands in subsea industry such as oil and gas, led to a rapidly growing need for the use of advanced, high performance, lightweight materials such as composite materials. E-glass fibre laminated pre-preg, filament wound and braided tubes were tested to destruction under hydrostatic external pressure in order to study their buckling and crushing behaviour. Different fibre architectures and wind angles were tested at a range of wall thicknesses highlighting the advantage that hoop reinforcement offers. The experimental results were compared with theoretical predictions obtained from classic laminate theory and finite element analysis (ABAQUS) based on the principal that the predominant failure mode was buckling. SEM analysis was further performed to investigate the resulting failure mechanisms, indicating that the failure mechanisms can be more complex with a variety of observed modes taking place such as fibre fracture, delamination and fibre-matrix interface failure.
Keywords: Filament winding; Braiding; Buckling analysis; Hydrostatic external pressure; Textile composites

Bolted Joints in Three Axially Braided Carbon Fibre/Epoxy Textile Composites with Moulded-in and Drilled Fastener Holes by Akın Ataş; Mayank Gautam; Constantinos Soutis; Prasad Potluri (449-460).
Experimental behaviour of bolted joints in triaxial braided (0°/±45°) carbon fibre/epoxy composite laminates with drilled and moulded-in fastener holes has been investigated in this paper. Braided laminates were manufactured by vacuum infusion process using 12 K T700S carbon fibres (for bias and axial tows) and Araldite LY-564 epoxy resin. Moulded-in fastener holes were formed using guide pins which were inserted in the braided structure prior to the vacuum infusion process. The damage mechanism of the specimens was investigated using ultrasonic C-Scan technique. The specimens were dimensioned to obtain a bearing mode of failure. The bearing strength of the specimens with moulded-in hole was reduced in comparison to the specimens with drilled hole, due to the increased fibre misalignment angle following the pin insertion procedure. An improvement on the bearing strength of moulded-in hole specimens might be developed if the specimen dimensions would be prepared for a net-tension mode of failure where the fibre misalignment would not have an effect as significant as in the case of bearing failure mode, but this mode should be avoided since it leads to sudden catastrophic failures.
Keywords: Triaxial braided composite laminates; Bolted joints; Moulded-in hole

This paper presents a study of fatigue performance of composite T-joints used in wind-turbine blades. A T-joint with various fibre reinforcement architectures were selected to investigate its fatigue behaviour. The 3D angle interlock T-joint was found to have the best performance in both static and fatigue loading. Increasing the static properties increases fatigue performance while the increasing rate in life performance is changed with the number of fatigue cycles. A finite element (FE) model was developed that can determine the stress distribution and the initiation and propagation of a delamination crack. The location for through-thickness reinforcement is very important to improve fatigue performance of composite T-joints. Fatigue performance is significantly improved for the web with through-thickness reinforcement while fatigue performance is decreased if the through-thickness reinforcement is applied to the flange-skin regions. The interlaminar veil significantly increases the ultimate strength under static load but fatigue performance at high stress cycles is increased but not significantly.
Keywords: Composite structures; T-joint; Finite element analysis; Fatigue; Delamination

Multifunctional Carbon Fibre Tapes for Automotive Composites by V. Koncherry; P. Potluri; A. Fernando (477-493).
Cabon fibre composites are used where mechanical performance such as strength, stiffness and impact properties at low density is a critical parameter for engineering applications. Carbon fibre flat tape is one material which is traditionally used to manufacture three-dimensional composites in this area. Modifying the carbon fibre tape to incorporate other functions such as stealth, electromagnetic interference, shielding, de-icing, self-repair, energy storage, allows us to create multi-functional carbon fibre tape. Researchers have been developing such material and the technology for their manufacture in order to produce multifunctional carbon fibre based components more economically and efficiently. This paper presents the manufacturing process of a metallised carbon fibre material for a chopped fibre preforming process that uses electromagnets for preforming instead of traditional suction airflow fibre deposition. In addition, the paper further presents mechanical and magneto-static modelling that is carried out to investigate the bending properties of the material produced and its suitability for creating 3D preforms.
Keywords: Tape; Magnetic properties; Finite element analysis; Carbon fibre; Preform

Microwaves Sensor for Wind Turbine Blade Inspection by Zhen Li; Arthur Haigh; Constantinos Soutis; Andrew Gibson; Robin Sloan (495-512).
The structural integrity of wind turbine blades can be adversely affected by their structural dynamics, temperature extremes, lightning strikes, ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and airborne particulate matter such as hailstones and sand. If subsurface delamination occurs and is undetected then this can lead to fibre breakage and catastrophic failures in composite blades. In this paper we introduce a microwave scanning technique that detects such delamination in practical blade assemblies. Using an open-ended waveguide sensor, the electromagnetic signal reflected from the composite is found to have a phase profile that can detect changes in the composite cross section. Glass fibre T-joints are scanned and the results used to detect thickness variations (e.g., the presence of the web) and delamination. Results are compared across the 18–20 GHz frequency band. The dielectric permittivity of the composite system is measured and is used to estimate the stand-off distance and operating frequency of the sensor. This is critical to the system’s ability to detect damage. When the sensor is close to the surface of the structure (standoff distance ≈ 5 mm), delamination down to 0.2 mm in width could be detected.
Keywords: Wind turbine blade; Composites; Delamination; Non-destructive testing; Microwaves; Simulation

EVITA Project: Comparison Between Traditional Non-Destructive Techniques and Phase Contrast X-Ray Imaging Applied to Aerospace Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer by Matthieu Gresil; Vincent Revol; Konstantinos Kitsianos; Georges Kanderakis; Ilias Koulalis; Marc-Olivier Sauer; Hervé Trétout; Ana-Maria Madrigal (513-524).
The EU-project EVITA (Non-Destructive EValuation, Inspection and Testing of Primary Aeronautical Composite Structures Using Phase Contrast X-Ray Imaging) aims at bringing Grating-based Phase Contrast X-ray imaging technology to Non-Destructive Evaluation and Inspection of advanced primary and/or complex aerospace composite structures. Grating-based Phase Contrast X-Ray Imaging is based on the so-called Talbot-Lau interferometer, which is made of the combination of a standard X-ray apparatus with three transmission gratings as documented in the literature. This paper presents a comparison of two traditional non-destructive techniques (NDT): ultrasonic through transmission (immersed and water jet) and ultrasonic phased-array pulse echo, with the developed phase contrast X-Ray Imaging applied to advanced aerospace carbon fibre reinforced polymer. Typical defects produced during manufacture is examined as part of the testing and validation procedure. The following defects have been identified as being those most likely to be detected more effectively by the Grating-based Phase Contrast X-Ray Imaging process than other state of the art industrial NDT techniques: porosity, foreign objects, cracks, resin rich, cut fibres, and wavy fibres. The introduction of this innovative methodology is expected to provide the aeronautical industry with a reliable and detailed insight of the integrity of thin and thick composite structures as well as of complex geometry ones, such as integrated closed boxes and sandwiches.
Keywords: X-Ray imaging; Phase contrast; Porosity; Cracks; Image fusion

An increase in the use of composite materials, owing to improved design and fabrication processes, has led to cost reductions in many industries. Resistance to corrosion, high specific strength, and stiffness are just a few of their many attractive properties. However, damage tolerance remains a major concern in the implementation of composites and uncertainty regarding component lifetimes can lead to over-design and under-use of such materials. A combination of non-destructive evaluation (NDE) and structural health monitoring (SHM) have shown promise in improving confidence by enabling data collection in-situ and in real time. In this work, infrared thermography (IRT) is employed for NDE of tubular composite specimens before and after impact. Four samples are impacted with energies of 5 J, 7.5 J, and 10 J by an un-instrumented falling weight set-up. Acoustic emissions (AE) are monitored using bonded piezoelectric sensors during one of the four impact tests. IRT data is used to generate diffusivity and thermal depth mappings of each sample using the thermographic signal reconstruction (TSR) red green blue (RGB) projection technique. Analysis of AE data alone for a 10 J impact suggest significant damage to the fibres and matrix; this is in good agreement with the generated thermal depth mappings for each sample, which indicate damage through multiple fibre layers. IRT and AE data are correlated and validated by optical micrographs taken along the cross section of damage.
Keywords: Acoustic emission; Composites; Infrared thermography; Depth mapping; Non-destructive evaluation; Structural health monitoring; Piezoelectric sensors

Structural Health Monitoring Using Lamb Wave Reflections and Total Focusing Method for Image Reconstruction by Aurelia Muller; Bradley Robertson-Welsh; Patrick Gaydecki; Matthieu Gresil; Constantinos Soutis (553-573).
This investigation aimed to adapt the total focusing method (TFM) algorithm (originated from the synthetic aperture focusing technique in digital signal processing) to accommodate a circular array of piezoelectric sensors (PZT) and characterise defects using guided wave signals for the development of a structural health monitoring system. This research presents the initial results of a broader study focusing on the development of a structural health monitoring (SHM) guided wave system for advance carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) composite materials. The current material investigated was an isotropic (aluminium) square plate with 16 transducers operating successively as emitter or sensor in pitch and catch configuration enabling the collection of 240 signals per assessment. The Lamb wave signals collected were tuned on the symmetric fundamental mode with a wavelength of 17 mm, by setting the excitation frequency to 300 kHz. The initial condition for the imaging system, such as wave speed and transducer position, were determined with post processing of the baseline signals through a method involving the identification of the waves reflected from the free edge of the plate. The imaging algorithm was adapted to accommodate multiple transmitting transducers in random positions. A circular defect of 10 mm in diameter was drilled in the plate, which is similar to the delamination size introduced by a low velocity impact event in a composite plate. Images were obtained by applying the TFM to the baseline signals, Test 1 data (corresponding to the signals obtained after introduction of the defect) and to the data derived from the subtraction of the baseline to the Test 1 signals. The result shows that despite the damage diameter being 40 % smaller than the wavelength, the image (of the subtracted baseline data) demonstrated that the system can locate where the waves were reflected from the defect boundary. In other words, the contour of the damaged area was highlighted enabling its size and position to be determined.
Keywords: Lamb waves; Structural Health Monitoring; Defect imaging; Image reconstruction; Total Focusing Method; Lamb waves reflections; Signal processing; Full Matrix Capture; Symmetric fundamental mode; Circular damage