Scholarly Communications Project


On-Line Consolidation of Thermoplastic Composites

by

Po-Jen Shih

PhD Dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Tech in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

in

ENGINEERING SCIENCE AND MECHANICS

Approved

Alfred C. Loos, Chair
Mark S. Cramer
Zafer Gürdal
Robert A. Heller
Eric R. Johnson

February 19, 1997
Blacksburg, Virginia


Abstract

An on-line consolidation system, which includes a computer-controlled filament winding machine and a consolidation head assembly, has been designed and constructed to fabricate composite parts from thermoplastic towpregs. A statistical approach was used to determine the significant processing parameters and their effect on the mechanical and physical properties of composite cylinders fabricated by on-line consolidation. A central composite experimental design was used to select the processing conditions for manufacturing the composite cylinders. The thickness, density, void content, degree of crystallinity and interlaminar shear strength (ILSS) were measured for each composite cylinder. Micrographs showed that complete intimate contact and uniform fiber-matrix distribution were achieved. The degree of crystallinity of the cylinders was found to be in the range of 25-30%. Under optimum processing conditions, an ILSS of 58 MPa and a void content of <1% were achieved for APC-2 (PEEK/Carbon fiber) composite cylinders. An in-situ measurement system which uses a slip ring assembly and a computer data acquisition system was developed to obtain temperature data during winding. Composite cylinders were manufactured with eight K-type thermocouples installed in various locations inside the cylinder. The temperature distribution inside the composite cylinder during winding was measured for different processing conditions. ABAQUS finite element models of the different processes that occur during on-line consolidation were constructed. The first model was used to determine the convective heat transfer coefficient for the hot-air heat source. A convective heat transfer coefficient of 260 w/m2°K was obtained by matching the calculated temperature history to the in-situ measurement data. To predict temperature distribution during winding an ABAQUS winding simulation model was developed . The winding speed was modeled by incrementally moving the convective boundary conditions around the outer surface of the composite cylinder. A towpreg heating model was constructed to predict the temperature distribution on the cross section of the incoming towpreg. For the process-induced thermal stresses analysis, a thermoelastic finite element model was constructed. Using the temperature history obtained from thermal analysis as the initial conditions, the thermal stresses during winding and cooling were investigated.

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