Fatigue Damage Characterization of Braided and Woven Fiber Reinforced Polymer Matrix Composites at Room and Elevated Temperatures
thesisposted on 22.05.2021, 16:14 authored by John Montesano
The use of polymer matrix composites (PMC) for manufacturing primary load-bearing structural components has significantly increased in many industrial applications. Specifically in the aerospace industry, PMCs are also being considered for elevated temperature applications. Current aerospace-grade composite components subjected to fatigue loading are over-designed due to insufficient understanding of the material failure processes, and due to the lace of available generic fatigue prediction models. A comprehensive literature survey reveals that there are few fatigue studies conducted on woven and braided fabric reinforced PMC materials, and even fewer at elevated temperatures. It is therefore the objective of this study to characterize and subsequently model the elevated temperature fatigue behaviour of a triaxial braided PMC, and to investigate the elevated temperature of fatigue properties of two additional woven PMCs. An extensive experimental program is conducted using a unique test protocol on the braided and woven composites, which consists of static and fatigue testing at various test temperatures. The development of mechanically-induced damage is monitored using a combination of non-destructive techniques which included infrared thermography, fiber optic sensors and edge replication. The observed microscopic damage development is quantified and correlated to the exhibited macroscopic material behaviour at all test temperatures. The fiber-dominated PMC materials considered in this study did not exhibit notable time or temperature-dependent static properties. However, fatigue tests reveal that the local damage development is in fact notably influenced by temperature. The elevated temperature environment increases the toughness of the thermosetting polymers, which results in consistently slower fatigue crack propagation rates for the respective composite materials. This has a direct impact on the stiffness degradation rate and the fatigue lives for the braided and woven composites under investigation. The developed analytical fatigue damage prediction model, which is based on actual observed damage mechanisms, accurately predicted the development of damage and corresponding stiffness degradation for the braided PMC, for all test temperatures. An excellent correlation was found between the experimental the predicted results to within a 2% accuracy. The prediction model adequately captured the local temperature-induced phenomenon exhibited by the braided PMC material. The results presented in this study are novel for a braided composite material subjected to elevated temperature fatigue.