Synthetic Polymer- Polymer Composites - Hanser Publications

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D. Bhattacharyya, S. FakirovSynthetic PolymerPolymer CompositesSample Chapter 1:Manufacturing and Processing of Polymer CompositesISBN978-1-56990-510-4HANSERHanser Publishers, Munich Hanser Publications, Cincinnati

PrefaceThe awareness about adverse environmental impacts of synthetic, petroleum-based polymers is steadily increasing and has already caused some worldwide concern. What is more,this concern is ascending because of the use of synthetic polymers is increasing ratherthan decreasing. A good example in this respect is the usage of poly(ethylene terephthalate)(PET) whose production has an annual growth of 10%, mostly due to its excellent properties as packaging material for various products that include pressurized beverages, foodarticles and medicines. The expected future growth is strongly supported by the fact thata large percentage of food products is often wasted because of bad or lack of packaging.In their efforts to change the situation, many countries, such as China and India, arelikely to increase the usage of plastics packaging containers. However, in many countrieslegislations are introduced to control the amount of plastics used. For example, in theEuropean Union, it will be not allowed after 2015 to use in the cars manufacturing plasticshaving more than 5 wt% incineration quota*.A decade or so ago, researchers believed that the commonly used polymer composites,comprising about 30% glass fibers, would be replaced by nanocomposites having only 2to 5 wt% nano-sized materials as reinforcement. Unfortunately, this expectation has turnedout to be somewhat elusive and researchers have started to look for alternative ways ofreplacing the traditional glass fibers with natural, biodegradable materials, mostly withfibrous structure. The potential of this approach has been demonstrated in our bookentitled Engineering Biopolymers: Homopolymers, Blends and Composites (Hanser Publication, 2007).In this book we show another approach for replacing glass and other inorganic fibersas reinforcements for polymer composites. This replacement could be again synthetic,petroleum-based polymer but prepared as fibers, micro- or nanofibrils. Of course, thisapproach is not as advantageous as using natural fibers that are biodegradable and ecofriendly. At the same time, the synthetic polymer-polymer composites seem to be muchmore acceptable from the environmental point of view because they, being organic in* A. Bismarck et al., Plant fibres as reinforcement for green composites, in Natural Fibres, Biopolymers, andBiocomposites (Eds. A. Mohanty, M. Misra and L. T. Drzal) CRC/Taylor & Francis, 2005, pp. 37–108.

nature, are prone to incineration process. In addition to their environmental advantages,compared to the polymer composites with mineral reinforcements with high weight/volumefractions, they are likely to possess much better specific mechanical properties. This positiveattribute allows them to be used to manufacture lightweight products and structures, afact that has particular importance in the transportation and packaging industries.This book is an attempt to collate information from a group internationally knownresearchers and demonstrate the state-of-the-art applications of synthetic, but organic innature, materials as carbon fibers, carbon nanotubes, synthetic polymers in the forms offibers, and micro-/nanofibrils as replacements of mineral reinforcements. We would liketo thank all the contributors for their willingness to participate in this exercise and beingpatient during the compilation work. The editors also wish to thank the Centre forAdvanced Composite Materials, University of Auckland for providing a range of facilitiesand the Ministry of Science and Innovation, New Zealand for financially supportingDr. Fakirov.D. BhattacharyyaS. FakirovAuckland, November 2011


Chapter 1Manufacturing and Processingof Polymer CompositesJ. Schuster, M. Duhovic, D. Bhattacharyya1.1.IntroductionComposite materials consisting of two or more components are likely to be more difficultto process than isotropic one-component materials. However, it is obvious that the successof a material is always dependent on its processability. Over the last decades, enormousprogress has been made in this field, leading composites out of its niche as material formilitary purpose and aviation use, to commercial applications and possibly for daily life.Besides the continuous pultrusion process for rapid production of profiles and hand layup for small series production of aircraft structures such as vertical tails; thermoforming,liquid composite molding, tape-laying and filament winding have been developed intocompetitive mass production methods. The best proof for this development is the attemptof BMW to build a car with a carbon fiber passenger cell, which shall be produced about150 000 times per year starting 2013.The nature of composites with its basic components matrix and fibers, which areavailable in a broad variety of semifinished products, allow the manufacturing of compositeparts through a wide range of different processes (Figure 1.1). The first differentiationmade in Figure 1.1 does not relate to the definition of short fibers having a length shorterthan the critical length, but are due to a more process related approach. Thus, the longestshort fibers shall be the ones used for injection molding (Long Fiber Thermoplastics –LFTs) with approximately 25 mm. However, the Long Discontinuous Fibers (LDF) developed by DuPont and used for thermoforming with an average fiber length of 50 mm canbe considered as the shortest long fibers with this regard. Multiroving processing coversall sorts of textile processes to produce woven and nonwoven fabrics such as weaving,knitting, etc.

Silicon dieformingThermoformingDiaphragmformingRubber cessHand onSingle sidedtoolResin filminfusion process(RFI)PulshapingPultrusionDoublesided toolPulbraidingSinglerovingprcessingFiber towplacementFilamentwindingLight n transferresin transfer molding (RTM) reaction injectionmolding (CRTM)molding (SRIM)PulformingTube blowingresin transfermoldingFlow pressprocess(SMC)LiquidcompositemoldingFlow pressprocess(GMT)RandomrovingsLong fibersVacuum asisted Cured-in-placeresin transferpipe processmolding (VARTM)(CIPP)Seaman compositeresin infusionprocess (SCRIMP)RotationalmoldingDouble beltpressprocessPreformMultirovingprocessingFigure 1.1. Systematic order of manufacturing processes for essTape-layingFibersprayingShort fibersManufacturing process for composites4J. Schuster, M. Duhovic, D. Bhattacharyya

Manufacturing and Processing of Polymer Composites5This schematic structure allows for the perception of some processes from a differentpoint of view. For example, rotational molding is a special liquid molding process withthe resin drawn by centrifugal forces and roll forming is a continuous thermoforming process.1.2.Autoclave-processing1.2.1. IntroductionInvented in 1879, autoclaves have been used since the beginning of the 20th century forprocessing rubber products [1]. Although sophisticated processing techniques for compositeshave developed over the last several decades, autoclave-processing is still the dominantconsolidation method for prepreg-made aircraft, space, and leisure industry parts suchas the tail fin of the Airbus A380 aircraft. Autoclave-processing combines almost no shapelimitation, a high flexibility with a precise positioning of fibers in a prior hand lay-up ortape-laying process. The often manual insertion of inserts is possible. However, thismanufacturing method is economically suitable only for small series production.1.2.2. EquipmentAn autoclave is a chamber in which temperature, heating rate, cooling rate, and pressurecan be precisely controlled. Conventional autoclaves work with convection heating andcooling. In addition, the pressure required is provided by air or nitrogen. Autoclaves witha capacity of up to 850 m3 have been built. In smaller versions, pressures up to 70 bar,and temperatures up to 650 C have been realized [1]. Nitrogen gas has to be used in orderto apply higher pressures and/or temperatures because the oxygen in the air becomesvery reactive causing fire inside the autoclave. Nitrogen pressured autoclaves have to behandled with care because huge amounts of nitrogen released into small environmentsmay cause suffocation.Microwave heating of composites has been developed for almost 20 years. In microwaveprocessing, energy is supplied by an electromagnetic field directly into the material. Thisresults in rapid heating throughout the material thickness with reduced thermal gradients.Such volumetric heating can also reduce processing times and save energy. The microwavefield and the dielectric response of a material govern its ability to be subjected to microwaveheating [2]. Microwave autoclaves are being introduced for industrial use as shown inFigure 1.2 [3].1.2.3. Laminate assemblyPrior to autoclave-processing, sheets or tapes with preimpregnated fibers with resin orthermoplastics (prepreg) have to be laid-up in a specific order. Prepreg is manufacturedby laying the fiber and the resin between sheets of siliconized paper or plastic film, whichare pressed or rolled to ensure consolidation and wetting out of the fibers. This processallows excellent alignment of the fibers in unidirectional layers [4]. A lay-up is formed bystacking up the prepregs according to the design criteria. In order to derive warpage-freeparts, a symmetrical lay-up sequence has to be preferred. Thermoplastic prepregs canonly be used for one-dimensionally curved structures due to their limited drapability. In

J. Schuster, M. Duhovic, D. Bhattacharyya6Figure 1.2. Microwave autoclave [3]such cases the lay-up can be performed with fabrics and polymer films or fabrics consistingof reinforcing and polymer fibers (commingled yarns).The standard lay-up structure is shown in Figure 1.3. The bleeder material sucks excessive resin coming from the prepreg. Peel-ply fabrics and release films are positioned aboveand below the prepreg to allow part removal without residue of excessive resin.Vacuum portTool lower partRelease filmVacuum bagBleederTool upper partTacky tapeLaminatePeel-plyFigure 1.3. Lay-up structure for autoclave curing [1]1.2.4. Process descriptionThe thermoplastic or thermoset matrix based composite lay-up is subjected to a definedtemperature-pressure course which can last between two to twelve hours. To cure thermosetting-systems, the temperature can vary depending on the type of resin between 80

Manufacturing and Processing of Polymer Composites7and 180 C along with pressures between 6 and 10 bar (0.6–1 MPa). The temperature riseinitiates the curing reaction of thermosets while the pressure applied effects the completeimpregnation and good consolidation.In terms of thermoplastic matrices, the temperature rise results in melting of the matrix.Therefore, the temperature can be as high as 390 C for PEEK-systems and is significantlyhigher in comparison to thermosets. The pressure applied, up to 25 bar (2.5 MPa), is alsohigher than for resins due to a higher viscosity of thermoplastic matrices. Successive coolingsupported by pressure effects the consolidation. A vacuum is applied to remove gaseoussubstances from the composite sealed in a vacuum bag. Thus, the effective pressure onthe composite is the difference between the applied pressure and the under pressure(vacuum) applied.1.2.5. Further developmentsAlthough being a relatively old technology to process composites, the autoclave techniqueis still a matter of research. Besides the previously mentioned microwave development,research is being conducted to simulate the autoclave process and to derive models fortime-based cost calculations [5,6]. In addition, efforts are being undertaken in the field oftooling and the effect of the tool on the part quality [7,8].A different approach is to entirely substitute the autoclave process was undertakenby using heating and cooling fluids in a pressure chamber. The so-called Quickstep-processis about three times faster than the conventional autoclave process while providing bettermechanical properties of the composite part [9].1.3.Pultrusion1.3.1. IntroductionPultrusion is an automated process for continuous production of endless composite profilesof constant cross-section. It is the only fully continuous production method for profileswhich is unreservedly regarded to be suitable for mass production. Specific characteristicsof the process are a fully automated process causing low labor costs, little waste, and noneed for auxiliary material. Pultruded profiles are mainly stock articles with cylindricalor rectangular hollow cross-sections or L-, U-, T-, or H-shapes. The application of theseprofiles is widespread. Typical examples are window frames, reinforcing for concrete, stairways, fences, wires, exterior covering for railroad cars and container parts [10].Pultrusion is mainly used to process glass-, aramide-, carbon fiber rovings with a widevariety of thermoset matrices such as polyester-, vinylester- and epoxy-resins [10]. Theprocessing speed can be up to 5 m/min. In addition, thermoplastic matrix based compositepultrusion has been developed over the last 20 years. Due to the higher viscosity of thermoplastics in comparison to thermosets, the processing speed is about ten times slower interms of thermoplastic pultrusion [11].1.3.2. EquipmentIn general, the pultrusion process incorporates three processing steps determining thepartial functions of a pultruder:

J. Schuster, M. Duhovic, D. Bhattacharyya8 Impregnation Forming and Curing/CoolingTherefore, a pultruder consists of a resin impregnation device where the rovings comingfrom a creel are pulled through. An impregnation device is not installed if either thermoplastic or thermoset prepregs (or such rovings) are processed. Fabrics or nonwoven matsare often used as surface layers to enhance the transverse properties of the pultruded material. This can cause difficulties during impregnation due to friction induced shear forcesleading to changes in fiber directions. Furthermore, the impregnation equipment consistsof a preformer bundling and draping the wetted reinforcing material. After final formingand curing in a die, successive cooling happens at ambient air or by means of coolingdevices under tension load provided by the pulling device. Finally, the continuous profilesare cut into desired lengths (Figure 1.4).RovingsContinuous strand matGuide Resin impregnatorSurfacing veilplatePreformerForming and curing diePulling system*Cut-off saw*Caterpillar pullers (shown)or reciprocating pullersFigure 1.4. Pultrusion machine [12]1.3.3. Process descriptionThermoplastic and thermoset pultrusion differ mainly in the field of impregnation. Inconventional thermoset pultrusion machines, the rovings are passed through a resin wetout tank containing the liquid resin. However, due to environmental and quality aspects,a separate resin injection chamber, upstream of the heated die, is introduced, where resinis injected into the rovings via injection ports [10,13,14]. Impregnation is completed inthe preformer where its tapered passageway provokes intensive resin flow. The wettedreinforcement is pulled through a heated die to be correctly shaped and completely cured.The entire impregnation and curing process, especially the very important pulling, hasto be optimized and controlled to derive a good product quality [15]. The pultrusion processcan also be improved by means of simulation using finite elements or neural networks[16–19].Naturally, impregnating rovings with thermoplastic material works differently thanwith resins. In general, two different strategies are possible:

Manufacturing and Processing of Polymer Composites9 Reactive impregnation and Nonreactive impregnation.As be seen on Figure 1.5, reactive thermoplastic pultrusion can be regarded as a combination of the manufacturing principles of thermoset and nonreactive thermoplastic pultrusion [20]. Thus, a thermoplastic reactive pultrusion machine is very similar to a thermosetpultruder. During reactive impregnation, the monomers are brought in contact with therovings by means of injection while they are reacting to a polymer. This very innovativeand still developing procedure is limited to only a few polymers like polyamides, polymethylmethacrylate, and polyurethanes.Preform nFiber guidanceA(b)PullingHeatingFiber guidanceA(c)BInjection andmixingPullingPreheatingHeatingCoolingFigure 1.5. Diagrams of different pultusion processes: (a) nonreactive pultrusion of thermoplastic preforms;(b) reactive pultrusion for thermoset composites; and (c) reactive pultrusion for thermoplastic composites [20]Nonreactive thermoplastic pultrusion utilizes completely polymerized plastics in variouspreprocessed states such as powder, granulates, filaments, or solutions. The use of preimpregnated fibers is advised due to short flow paths. These preimpregnated fibers can befed into the pultruder as commingled yarns, thermoplastically coated yarns or tapes. Sinceimpregnation is already done, no impregnation device is needed. Instead, due to the lowthermal conductivity of the matrix material and its limited deterioration temperature,

J. Schuster, M. Duhovic, D. Bhattacharyya10a preheating zone has to be used to heat up the material as high as possible before enteringthe forming die. Preheating can be realized by means of hot air, hot gases, radiation,conduction pins, or a combination of these methods. A new heating technique has beendeveloped using microwave heating [21]. Investigations have shown that heat transfer byconduction is most effective [10]. Final impregnation is performed in a forming die, whichis also heated by conduction or convection.The main advantage of thermoplastic pultrusion is a possible later shaping processto derive curved or even spiral beams [22,23]. In addition, concurrently happening processes such as braiding, filament winding, and thermoforming have been combined withpultrusion to overcome the constraint of constant cross-section [24,25]. Pulwinding andpulbraiding allow helical and hoop filaments glued or welded in-line on pultruded sectionsleading to superior mechanical properties in different directions (Figure 1.6) [10,22,24].Pulforming and pulshaping are intermittent processes with a single mold or run in acontinuous process with circulating mold pairs allowing curved shapes to be formed withvariable cross-sections such as leaf springs [24,26,27].PreimpregnationdieWaterjet ooling HeatingzonezoneTeflon corePulling devicePultrusion dieBraiderFiber spoolMaterial pulling directionFigure 1.6. Pulbraiding line with contact preheating1.4.Filament winding and placement techniques1.4.1. Filament windingIntroductionFilament winding is a discontinuous process of forming circular composite parts such asvessels, tubes, shafts, and rods by winding rovings or tapes previously impregnated withresin or thermoplastic material onto a mandrel. The concept of filament winding was introduced during World War II and improved until the 1960’s when the first industrial series

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