Void (composites)

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A void is a pore that remains unoccupied in a composite material. A void is typically the result of an imperfection from the processing of the material and is generally deemed undesirable. Because a void is a non-uniformity in a composite material, it can affect the mechanical properties and lifespan of the composite.[1] Voids can act as a crack nucleation site as well as allow moisture to penetrate the composite and contribute to anisotropy of the composite .[2] This is an issue because crack formation and propagation can create unpredictable behavior in the laminate. For aerospace applications, a void content of approximately 1% is appropriate for performance while other grades of composites can have between 3%-5% void content. A small change in the percentage of void content may not seem like a large problem however for a loaded carbon fiber laminate composite, a 1%-3% increase in void content can reduce the mechanical properties of the composite by up to 20% [3] Void content in composites is represented as a ratio, also called void ratio, where the volume of voids, solid material, and bulk volume are taken into account. Void ratio can be calculated by the formula below where e is the void ratio of the composite, Vv is the volume of the voids, and Vt is the volume of the bulk material.

Formation of Voids[edit]

Voids are considered defects in composite structures and there are several types of voids that can form in composites depending on the fabrication route and matrix type.[3] Among other factors that can influence the quantity and location of voids are pre-preg impregnation, surface morphology, curing parameters, compaction pressure, fiber bridging, excessive resin bleed, and the thickness of layup .[4]

A resin with a high viscosity will likely produce voids in a composite. It is difficult for a resin or matrix with a high viscosity to penetrate the original void spaces between adjacent fibers. This will cause voids to form close the fiber surface. Preventing these voids becomes a more daunting task when the fibers are packed tightly together in a composite [5]

A high void proportion can be obtained in a composite due to errors in processing as well. If the temperature used for curing is too low for the particular matrix used, complete degassing might not occur. However, if the temperature used for curing is too high for a particular matrix, gelation might occur too rapidly and voids may still be present .[6] For example, if a laminate composite is cured at a temperature that is too low for the particular matrix used, the resin viscosity could remain high and hinder removing the void spaces between individual plies [7] Some resins can cure at room temperature while other resins require temperatures up to 200 °C, but curing above or below the required temperature for a particular matrix can increase the amount of voids present in a composite. If the injection pressure in a resin injection pultrusion process is not high enough, the resin or matrix might not be able to penetrate the fiber bed to completely wet out the fibers without voids.[5] Entrapped air or bubbles can be formed in the resin during resin mixing. If these bubbles are not removed before the wetting of the fibers or curing of the composite, the bubbles could become voids that can be found throughout the final composite structure.[7]

Reduction of Voids[edit]

Because voids are viewed as defects in composite materials, many methods are applied for reducing voids in composites. Traditionally, using vacuum bagging system and autoclave under pressure and heat will minimize or prevent voids from forming.

The vacuum bagging system combined with autoclave is a common method used in industrial processes to achieve a low void content for thermoset composites. Vacuum evacuation is the way reducing exciting amount of voids by physically transporting the voids out of the resin and fiber network through vacuum lines, and it is influenced by the viscosity of resin. Autoclave pressure is used to assist vacuum in removing trapped air and excess resin while at the same time preventing volatiles from coming out of the resin at high temperatures [8]

Optimization of injection flow rate is often calculated to minimize voids in Resin Transfer Molded (RTM) composites. During the injection phase, a liquid resin impregnates the fibers before curing and solidification, often creating voids in the part during the injection. Through an algorithm between fluid flow velocity (v) and the percentages of macro-voids (V1) and micro-voids (V2)

an optimized rate can be obtained and the voids in RTM composites can be reduced, thus improving properties of the composite[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ASTM D2734-09, Standard Test Methods for Void Content of Reinforced Plastics, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2009, www.astm.org
  2. ^ Hull, D., & Clyne, T. (1996). Fiber Architecture - Voids. In An introduction to composite materials (2nd ed., pp. 55-56). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  3. ^ a b Lacovara, Bob (2013). "Why out of Autoclave Processing Is Good for the Composites Industry". High-Performance Composites. 23: 261–265. doi:10.1016/0010-4361(92)90186-X. 
  4. ^ Hayes, B., & Gammon, L. (2004). Void Analysis of Composite Materials. In ASM Handbook, Volume 9: Metallography and Microstructures (Vol. 9). ASM International. http://products.asminternational.org.prox.lib.ncsu.edu/hbk/do/highlight/content/V09_2004/D07/A09/s0504737.htm
  5. ^ a b Shakya, N.; Roux, J.; Jeswani, A. (2013). "Effect of Resin Viscosity in Fiber Reinforcement Compaction in Resin Injection Pultrusion Process". Applied Composite Materials. 20 (6): 1173–1193. doi:10.1007/s10443-013-9320-0. 
  6. ^ M. J. Yokota, Process controlled curing of resin matrix composites, SAMPE J., I4(4), (1978).
  7. ^ a b Harper, J. F.; Miller, N. A.; Yap, S. C. (1993). "The Influence of Temperature and Pressure During the Curing of Prepreg Carbon Fiber Epoxy Resin". Polymer-Plastics Technology and Engineering. 32 (4): 269–275. doi:10.1080/03602559308019234. 
  8. ^ Boey, F.Y.C; Lye, S.W (1992). "Void reduction in autoclave processing of thermoset composites: Part 1: High pressure effects on void reduction". Composites. 23 (4): 261–265. doi:10.1016/0010-4361(92)90186-X. 
  9. ^ Ruiz, E; Achim, V; Soukane, S; Trochu, F; Bréard, J (2006). "Optimization of injection flow rate to minimize micro/macro-voids formation in resin transfer molded composites". Composites Science and Technology. 66 (3): 475–486. doi:10.1016/j.compscitech.2005.06.013.