Investigation of Processing Conditions and Viscoelastic Properties on Frictional Sliding Behavior of Unidirectional Carbon Fiber Epoxy Prepreg

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Virginia Tech

The quality of continuous fiber reinforced polymer matrix composite parts and structures depends strongly on the friction during the composite forming process. The two major types of friction that cause deformations during this process are ply-ply friction and tool-ply friction. One of the challenges in the composite forming process is the occurrence of wrinkling and shape distortion of the fabric caused by the surface differences between the forming tool and surface of the laminate. Frictional measurements of composites can vary widely depending on processing parameters, measurement technique, and instruments used.

In this study, a commercial rheometer was used to evaluate tool-ply friction of unidirectional carbon fiber epoxy prepreg at various contact pressures, temperatures and sliding velocities. Viscoelastic properties such as the complex viscosity (η*), storage modulus (G'), loss modulus (G"), and loss factor (tan δ) were used to determine the critical transition events (such as gelation) during cure. An understanding of changes in viscoelastic properties as a function of time, temperature, and cure provides insight for establishing a suitable processing range for compression forming of prepreg systems.

Surface imaging results were coupled with rheological results to qualitatively examine the effects of processing parameters on prepreg distortions. Changes in gap height over the measurement interval qualitatively describe the changes in contact area and contact mechanisms between the tool-ply surfaces. The results indicate that friction behavior of the prepreg system is a contribution of adhesive and frictional forces, where increase in viscosity, reduction in gap height, and cure of the sample correlate to higher friction values.

Fiber reinforced polymer composites, prepreg, tool-ply friction, rheometer, composite forming process, time-temperature transformation