Factors Affecting Fiber Orientation and Properties in Semi-Flexible Fiber Composites Including the Addition of Carbon Nanotubes

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Virginia Tech

Within this research, factors affecting the orientation of injection molded long fiber composites in an end-gated plaque were investigated. Matrix viscosity was found to have a small effect on fiber orientation. The impact matrix viscosity had on orientation was dependent on fiber loading. At lower fiber loadings, the higher viscosity material had a more asymmetric orientation profile throughout the samples and less of a shell-core-shell orientation. At higher fiber loadings, there were few differences in orientation due to matrix viscosity. Fiber concentration was found to have a larger influence on fiber orientation than matrix viscosity. Increased fiber concentration led to a lower degree of flow alignment and a broader core region at all locations examined, following the trend previously reported for short fiber composites.

The orientations of three different fiber length distributions of glass fiber (GF) were compared. The longer fibers in the fiber length distribution were shown to have a disproportionate effect on orientation, with weight average aspect ratio being better than number average aspect ratio at indicating if the GF and CF samples orientated comparably.

To improve properties transverse to the main flow direction, the super critical carbon dioxide aided deagglomeration of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) was used to create injection molded multiscale composites with CNT, CF, and polypropylene. The addition of CNTs greatly improved the tensile and electrical properties of the composites compared to those without CNTs. The degree of improvement from adding CNTs was found to be dependent on CF concentration, indicating that the CNTs were most likely interacting with the CF and not the polymer. A CNT concentration of 1 wt% with a tenfold degree of expansion at 40 wt% CF proved to be optimum. A large improvement in the tensile properties transverse to the flow direction was found implying that the CNTs were not highly flow aligned. Tensile and electrical properties began to fall off at higher CNT loadings and degrees of expansion indicating the importance of obtaining a good dispersion of CNTs in the part.

fiber reinforced polymers, injection molding, fiber orientation, carbon nanotubes