Creep of plain weave polymer matrix composites
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Woven (also known as textile) composites are one class of polymer matrix composites with increasing market share in aerospace, autmobile, civil infrastructure applications mostly due to their lightweight, their flexibility to form into desired shape, their mechanical properties and toughness. Due to the viscoelasticity of the polymer matrix, time-dependent degradation in modulus (creep) and strength (creep rupture) are two of the major mechanical properties required by engineers to design a structure reliably when using these materials. Unfortunately, creep and creep rupture of woven composites have received little attention by the research community and thus, there is a dire need to generate additional knowledge and prediction models, given the increasing market share of woven composites in load bearing structural applications. In this thesis, an analytical creep model, namely the Modified Equivalent Laminate Model (MELM), was developed to predict tensile creep of plain weave composites for any orientation of the load with respect to the orientation of the fill and warp fibers, using creep of unidirectional composites. The model was validated using an extensive experimental involving the tensile creep of plain weave composites under varying loading orientation and service conditions. Plain weave epoxy (F263)/ carbon fiber (T300) composite, currently used in aerospace applications, was procured as fabrics from Hexcel Corporation. Creep tests were conducted under two loading conditions: on-axis loading (00) and off-axis loading (450). Constant load creep, in the temperature range of 80–2400C and stress range of 1-70% UTS of the composites, was experimentally evaluated for time periods ranging from 1–120 hours under both loading conditions. The composite showed increase in creep with increase in temperature and stress. Creep of composite increased with increase in angle of loading, from 1% under on-axis loading to 31% under off-axis loading, within the tested time window. The experimental creep data for plain weave composites were superposed using TTSP (Time Temperature Superposition Principle) to obtain a master curve of experimental data extending to several years and was compared with model predictions to validate the model. The experimental and model results were found in good agreement within an error range of +1-3% under both loading conditions. A parametric study was also conducted to understand the effect of microstructure of plain weave composites on its on-axis and off-axis creep. Additionally, this thesis generated knowledge on time-dependent damage in woven composites and its effect on creep and tensile properties and their prediction.