Interfacial strength development in thermoplastic resins and fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The objective of this study was to develop tests that could be used to characterize autohesive strength development in amorphous thermoplastic resins and fiber-reinforced thermoplastic prepregs. All tests were performed using polysulfone P1700 thermoplastic resin and AS4/P1700 graphite-polysulfone prepreg.

Two test methods were examined to measure autohesion in neat resin samples. These included an interfacial tension test based on the ASTM tensile adhesion test (ASTM D897) and a fracture toughness test using a compact tension (CT) specimen (based on the ASTM toughness test for metals ASTM E399-83). The interfacial tensile test proved to be very difficult to perform and with an unacceptable amount of data scatter. The data obtained using the compact tension test were repeatable and could be correlated with temperature and contact time.

Autohesive strength development in fiber-reinforced prepreg samples was measured using a double cantilever beam (DCB) interlaminar fracture toughness test. The fracture mechanisms were determined to be different in the healed DCB specimen than the virgin specimen due to resin flow at the crack plane during the healing tests.

The CT test was found suitable for use in determining the autohesive properties and self-diffusion coefficient of neat resin. The DCB test, although not suitable for autohesive testing, indicated that repair of thermoplastic matrix composites is possible; however, the repair will not be as tough as the virgin material.