Analysis of innovative matrix systems for continuous fiber reinforced plastics in RTM process
Tutor / director / evaluatorHuttel, Dominik
Document typeBachelor thesis
Rights accessRestricted access - author's decision
The use of lightweight and high-performance materials is nowadays one of the main challenge for the global automotive industry. Companies are forced to look for new ways to design and manufacture a commercially viable lightweight vehicle in order to meet stringent carbon emissions targets and offer highly fuel efficient vehicles to the consumer while maintaining structural performance. The use of polymer matrix composites in substitution of the present metal components remains a top priority. Present composite costs along the whole cycle from raw material obtainment and manufacturing processes to recycling are too high for a mass production. A rapid and reproducible fabrication has not been yet optimized. Resolving these costs and optimizing the remaining technical challenges will be the pass of composites to the mass market. A possible solution is the application of innovative matrix systems involving improvements in terms of processing, costs and mechanical properties. The main target of the present study is to offer a comparison between the possibilities of PU systems against epoxy systems. Potential of both matrix systems as carbon reinforced structural part in the automotive industry has been analyzed. One epoxy system and three PU systems from different manufacturers, all of them, specially developed for high pressure RTM process, have been studied. Plates with an analog ply construction consisting in 10 unidirectional carbon layers of a special woven fabric have been manufactured. Both mechanical properties and processing parameters during the manufacture of parts have been taken into account. Tensile properties, elastic-plastic behavior of the material, fiber matrix bond quality and compatibility between matrix and sizing have been analyzed. Of main interest has been the study of the interlaminar toughness as it gives directly an idea of the behavior of the final composite against delamination in Mode I and Mode II. An optimal adjustment of processing and chemical parameters has been worked throughout the manufacture of parts for each matrix system in order to obtain a first idea of each system possibilities. Final results have shown that PU systems show optimal values of mechanical properties under tensile tests and a great improvement against epoxy systems in material toughness, which allows assuming that their application may be suitable for crashing parts where good energy absorption is required. In terms of processing parameters, PU systems present a higher potential than epoxy systems as their versatility on material properties can lead to a higher optimization of the manufacturing process.
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