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Mechanistic Effects of Porosity on Structural Composite Materials


As fiber reinforced composites continue to gain popularity as primary structures in aerospace, automotive, and powersports industries, quality control becomes an extremely important aspect of materials and mechanical engineering. The ability to recognize and control manufacturing induced defects can greatly reduce the likelihood of unexpected catastrophic failure. Porosity is the result of trapped volatiles or air bubbles during the layup process and can significantly compromise the strength of fiber reinforced composites. A comprehensive study was performed on an AS4C-UF3352 TCR carbon fiber-epoxy prepreg system to determine the effect of porosity on flexural, shear, low-velocity impact, and damage residual strength properties. Autoclave cure pressure was controlled to induce varying levels of porosity to construct six laminates with porosity concentrations between 0-40%. Porosity concentrations were measured using several destructive and nondestructive techniques including resin burnoff, sectioning and optical analysis, and X-ray computed tomography (CT) scanning. Ultrasonic transmission, thermography, and CT scanning provided nondestructive imaging to evaluate impact damage. A bilinear relationship accurately characterizes the change in mechanical properties with increasing porosity. Strength properties are relatively unaffected when porosity concentrations are below approximately 2.25% and decrease linearly by up to 40% in high porosity specimens.

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