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Flexural properties of z-pinned composite laminates in seawater environment

Knopp, André, Düsterhöft, Christian, Reichel, Martin, Scharr, Gerhard
Journal of materials science 2014 v.49 no.24 pp. 8343-8354
absorption, bending strength, composite materials, energy, freeze-thaw cycles, seawater, water temperature
Unidirectional carbon-fibre reinforced composite laminates with and without z-pins were immersed in artificial seawater and exposed to two different temperature levels (−1.75 and 50 °C), as well as thaw–freeze cycles (+20/−20 °C). The investigation described is focused on the question to which degree seawater absorption, as well as bending properties are influenced by z-pin reinforcement. The results indicate an increasing influence of the z-pin reinforcement on the water sorption rate, while the sorption rate of unpinned laminates is lower. This is a result of the additional diffusion pathways of the moisture ingress into the laminate caused by the inserted z-pins which in turn change the micro-structure. Furthermore, the sorption rate depends on the immersion temperature. Laminates immersed into seawater with higher temperatures (50 °C) display a significantly higher diffusion rate than those immersed in colder seawater (−1.75 °C) or those immersed under thaw–freeze conditions (+20/−20 °C). Z-pin reinforced laminates with a unidirectional fibre orientation show a reduced bending strength by about 31 %, as well as a reduced flexural modulus by about 11 % in comparison to unpinned samples. Unpinned and z-pinned samples that were exposed to a seawater environment for 1344 h show a reduced flexural modulus depending on the immersion temperatures. As opposed to flexural modulus, flexural strength is not affected by immersion time or temperature. The overall bending strain energy that is necessary for a complete fracture of the unpinned samples under 4-point bending loads can be described with the value of the elastic bending strain energy. In contrast to this the overall bending strain energy of the z-pinned laminates is composed of two different components –the elastic bending strain energy and the post-fracture strain energy. The post-fracture strain energy occurs after exceeding the flexural strength. The overall bending strain energy of z-pinned and unpinned samples without immersion into seawater is around 7.2 J, while the percentage of the post-fracture energy of the pinned samples is 40 % with respect to the overall bending strain energy. The duration of the immersion into water and higher water temperatures increases the overall bending strain energy for both unpinned and pinned samples. The increase is higher for z-pinned samples and is mainly caused by the increase of the post-fracture energy.