Prefailure damage processes in highly filled glass/mica/epoxy composites

Authors

  • M. Regola,

    1. Department of Macromolecular Science, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106
    Current affiliation:
    1. Lord Corporation, 2000 West Grandview Blvd, Erie, PA 16514
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  • E. Baer,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Macromolecular Science, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106
    • Department of Macromolecular Science, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106
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  • A. Hiltner

    1. Department of Macromolecular Science, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106
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Abstract

In the present study, the prefailure damage processes of a series of short glass fiber/mica/epoxy composites under three-point bending were elucidated using acoustic emission (AE) coupled with in situ scanning electron microscopy (SEM) observations. This study consisted of a detailed investigation of the damage tolerance of composite systems that had constant inorganic content of 75% by weight with a varying ratio of glass fibers to mica. The flexural strength was found to increase from 11 to 21 ksi as the glass fiber content increased (mica content decreased), while the flexural modulus decreased from 5.0 to 2.5 Msi. By monitoring the AE during flexural deformation of the glass fiber-to-mica ratio composites, it was determined that low amplitude (0–42 db) AE events, which occurred throughout the deformation process, were caused by matrix cracking, whereas the high-amplitude (43–100 db) AE events, which occurred just prior to failure, were caused by a fiber-related mechanism. In situ SEM observations of the composites during flexural deformation allowed a correlation between the AE and the damage mechanisms as a function of strain. In the all-mica composite, microcracking initiated in the linear region at preexisting flaws, on the order of 10 μm, located at the mica interface. These microcracks grew along the mica contours over the majority of the deformation process, emitting low-amplitude events, until final fracture occurred at relatively low strains. In the glass fiber-containing composites, microcracking initiated in the linear region at preexisting flaws and voids, on the order of 10 μm. These microcracks grew slowly, emitting low-amplitude events, as the strain increased, but were prevented from causing failure at low strains because of the toughening effect of the glass fibers. At sufficiently high strains, however, fiber breakage and fiber pull-out occurred that corresponded to the high-amplitude events detected by the AE. At strains just prior to failure, catastrophic crack growth occurred, producing a rapid increase in both low-and high-amplitude events, causing ultimate failure.

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