Effect of Thermal Ageing on the Impact Damage Resistance and Tolerance of Carbon-Fibre-Reinforced Epoxy Laminates.


Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Industriales, INEI, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Campus Universitario s/n, 13071-Ciudad Real, Spain. [Email]


Composite structures are particularly vulnerable to impact, which drastically reduces their residual strength, in particular, at high temperatures. The glass-transition temperature (Tg) of a polymer is a critical factor that can modify the mechanical properties of the material, affecting its density, hardness and rigidity. In this work, the influence of thermal ageing on the low-velocity impact resistance and tolerance of composites is investigated by means of compression after impact (CAI) tests. Carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP) laminates with a Tg of 195 °C were manufactured and subjected to thermal ageing treatments at 190 and 210 °C for 10 and 20 days. Drop-weight impact tests were carried out to determine the impact response of the different composite laminates. Compression after impact tests were performed in a non-standard CAI device in order to obtain the compression residual strength. Ultrasonic C-scanning of impacted samples were examined to assess the failure mechanisms of the different configurations as a function of temperature. It was observed that damage tolerance decreases as temperature increases. Nevertheless, a post-curing process was found at temperatures below the Tg that enhances the adhesion between matrix and fibres and improves the impact resistance. Finally, the results obtained demonstrate that temperature can cause significant changes to the impact behaviour of composites and must be taken to account when designing for structural applications.


carbon-fibre-reinforced composites,compression after impact response,glass transition temperature,thermal ageing,thermoset matrix,ultrasonic C-scanning,