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LOW VELOCITY IMPACT OF COMBINATION KEVLAR/CARBON FIBER SANDWICH COMPOSITES

Jeremy Gustin, Graduate Student, Jeremy.Gustin@ndsu.nodak.edu Aaran Joneson, Graduate Student, Aaran.Joneson@ndsu.nodak.edu Mohammad Mahinfalah1, Associate Professor, M.Mahinfalah@ndsu.nodak.edu James Stone, Associate Professor, James.Stone@ndsu.nodak.edu Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics North Dakota State University Fargo, ND 58105 Tel: 701-231-8839 Fax: 701-231-8913
ABSTRACT Impact, compression after impact, and tensile stiffness properties of carbon fiber and Kevlar combination sandwich composites were investigated in this study. The different samples consisted of impact-side facesheets having different combinations of carbon fiber/Kevlar and carbon fiber/hybrid. The bottom facesheets remained entirely carbon fiber to maintain the high overall flexural stiffness of the sandwich composite. The focus of this research was to determine if any improvement in impact properties existed as a result of replacing the impact-side facesheet layers of carbon fiber with Kevlar or hybrid. Impact tests were conducted on different sample types to obtain information about absorbed energy and maximum impact force. Also, compression after impact tests were conducted to determine the reduction in compressive strength when comparing impacted to non-impacted samples. The elastic moduli of carbon fiber, Kevlar, and hybrid was determined from tensile testing. This data was used to characterize the reduction in stiffness from replacing carbon fiber layers with the Kevlar or hybrid layers. The experimental data in its entirety helps define the benefits and disadvantages of replacing carbon fiber layers with Kevlar or hybrid. INTRODUCTION Sandwich composites have become increasingly popular for applications including aerospace, marine/offshore industries, and ground transportation [1-2]. They are favored for their high specific strength and stiffness, corrosion resistance, tailorability, and stability [3]. Sandwich composites are very suitable for lightweight structures requiring high in-plane and flexural stiffness [4]. However, applications prone to impact are limited because of a relatively poor resistance to localized impact loading [510]. This is an important concern since a reduction in stiffness and residual strength occurs after impact. Carbon fiber reinforced, epoxy matrix composites have emerged as a very promising class of structural materials with high static strength and stiffness properties [11]. The core, which is typically a low strength, lightweight material, is responsible for transmitting shear forces between the facesheets [12]. A vital element of the sandwich construction is the effective bond between the facesheets and the core material. The joint must be stiff and strong, as well as tough in order to allow the sandwich structure to sustain high loads over a long service life [13]. Kevlar was added to the impact-side facesheet in an attempt to improve upon the impact properties. Kevlar composites have been extensively utilized as lightweight armor structures in applications ranging from military helmets to large scale vehicle systems such as aircraft, spacecraft, land vehicles, and naval vessels [14-15]. Reinforcement of composites with Kevlar fibers can significantly improve the impact damage tolerance if used in place of or in conjunction with graphite fibers [16-18]. Bunsell and Harris [19] suggested that once the failure strain of the brittle layers (carbon fiber) is reached in an interlaminar hybrid, the load can be transferred to the ductile layers (Kevlar) if bonding between the laminates is sufficient. In this study, sandwich composite plates with different combinations of Kevlar/carbon fiber and hybrid/carbon fiber impact-side facesheets were subjected to low velocity impacts at energies ranging from 5 J to those that caused complete sample penetration. On the impact-side facesheet, the very top 1, 2, 3, or 4 layers of carbon fiber were replaced with Kevlar or hybrid. Low energy impacts were considered since even in the absence of fiber breakage, the laminate mechanical performance can be drastically affected [20-21]. These experimental impact tests are necessary to determine impact force and energy performance. Current sandwich composite impact theory does not consider impact energies that result in facesheet cracking,

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which is very common. For impacts without facesheet cracking, Hoo Fatt and Parks [3,22] used equivalent single and multi degree-of-freedom systems to predict low velocity impact response and damage initiation impact forces. Compression tests were conducted to determine the remaining compressive strength after impact. In-plane compression is the critical load for impact-damaged specimens, since strength reductions are the largest under this type of loading [23]. The type of compression after impact failure depends on the impact damage. Davies et al [24] discussed the correlation between three types of impact damage and the resulting compression after impact failure. For an impact resulting in a permanent indent to the facesheet, compressive loads can increase local bending and push the skin further into the core causing failure. For impacts that cause internal delamination, compressive loads may cause localized buckling where the skin is not supported by the foam. For impacts where the top facesheet and core are penetrated, the bottom facesheet may experience massive debonding. The combination of the bottom facesheet debonding and penetration of the top facesheet would significantly limit the compressive strength. Compressive failure would likely occur as a result of top facesheet cracking from stress concentrations and/or bottom facesheet buckling. Tensile tests were performed to characterize how the addition of Kevlar or hybrid to the impact-side facesheet would decrease the stiffness compared to facesheets with only carbon fiber. Understanding how the stiffness is affected is necessary in determining potential applications for sandwich composites incorporating carbon fiber with Kevlar or hybrid. SAMPLE CONSTRUCTION A hand-layup method shown in Figure 1 was used to construct the samples. The major components required for this method are a vacuum pump, vacuum bagging, spiral tubing and sealant tape. The spiral tubing insured a uniform vacuum across the sample and prevented epoxy from pooling on the sample side with less vacuum. This would have occurred on the side without spiral tubing. If epoxy pooling occurs, the facesheet thickness is not uniform. The facesheet would be the thickest on the sample side without the spiral tubing. The core of the sandwich composite consisted of polyurethane foam filled honeycomb. The honeycomb structure was constructed out of kraft paper. The foam filled honeycomb sheets, purchased from MGI, had the properties indicated in Table 1. The carbon fiber, Kevlar, and hybrid fabric properties are listed in Table 2. The epoxy consisted of F-82 resin and TP-41 hardener, which was allowed to cure under a 600 mm Hg vacuum for a minimum of 9 hours. The cured properties of the epoxy, purchased from Eastpointe Fiberglass, are listed in Table 3. Carbon Fiber Fabric / Core Aluminum Sheet

Vacuum Bagging

Sealant Tape

To Vacuum Pump Vacuum Tubing Spiral Tubing

Figure 1. Sample construction setup Table 1. Properties of MGI Canada MIKOR honeycomb sheets Density Compressive Strength Cell Size Shear Strength To Ribbon Cell Thickness Honeycomb Thickness 112 kg / m 2.02MPa 12.7 mm 1.65 MPa 0.3175 mm 25.4 mm
3

Table 2. Fabric properties Hybrid (3K Carbon Fiber/1500 Denier Kevlar) 2 x 2 Twill
2

Carbon Fiber Yarn Type Weave Type Area Density Thickness Count (Rows/Tows Per Inch) 3K Plain 193 g / m
2

Kevlar 49 4 HS 169 g / m 17 x 17 0.254 mm

183 g / m2 0.305 mm 12.5 x 12.5

0.3048 mm 12.5 x 12.5

Table 3. Properties of Eastpointe Fiberglass epoxy Density Compressive Strength Tensile Strength Cure Time Cure Temperature 1084 kg / m 131 MPa 63.6 MPa 9-12 Hours 75 F
3

The hand-layup method provided high quality samples with minimal defects. To create the foam filled core samples, a layer of epoxy was applied before each layer of fabric was placed. Special care was taken to insure the correct amount of epoxy was used in addition to being evenly spread out. After the four layers were placed, the vacuum bagging was carefully spread over the sample insuring no wrinkles would form when the vacuum was applied. Any wrinkles that form on the vacuum bagging will affect the surface finish of the sample. A rubber squeegee was used to remove the extra epoxy and trapped air. As shown in Table 2, the addition of Kevlar and hybrid to the facesheets actually reduced the overall weight of the sandwich composite compared to the entirely carbon fiber samples. The Kevlar and hybrid fabrics had a lower areal densities compared to carbon fiber. The different combinations of 100 mm x 100 mm samples used in this study are listed in Table 4 with their corresponding weights. The sample type description corresponds to the impact-side facesheet information. The bottom facesheets remained four layers of carbon fiber for all sample types. The abbreviations for the sample types shown in this table are used throughout the paper. Table 4. Properties of Hybrid Carbon Fiber/Kevlar Weight Abb. Sample Type (g) CF 4 Carbon Fiber Layers 60.8 1K 1 Kevlar - 3 Carbon Fiber Layers 59.7 2K 2 Kevlar - 2 Carbon Fiber Layers 60.5 3K 3 Kevlar - 1 Carbon Fiber Layers 59.8 4K 4 Kevlar Layers 58.4 1H 1 Hybrid - 3 Carbon Fiber Layers 59.4 2H 2 Hybrid - 2 Carbon Fiber Layers 60.1 3H 3 Hybrid - 1 Carbon Fiber Layers 59.7 4H 4 Hybrid Layers 59.3 TEST METHOD An Instron Dynatup drop tower, Model 9250HV, was used for impact testing. This machine is capable of impacting samples at energies of up to 826 J utilizing a spring-assist. For this study, all samples were impacted with a 7.25 kg drop weight. Since the drop weight was not changed, the different impact energies were achieved by adjusting the drop height. A pneumatic clamping fixture, with a 76.2 mm (3in) diameter opening, secured each sample during impact. The air pressure was set to 0.4 MPa, which was well below the 2.02 MPa compressive strength of the foam filled honeycomb core. The samples were impacted with a 12.7 mm (0.5in) diameter striker, constructed out of high strength steel. Impulse software was used in order to display and store the impact data. The compression and tensile tests were conducted using a 50 kip MTS fatigue test system. The compression testing fixture was designed similar to a Boeing Model CU-CI fixture [25]. This fixture is specifically designed with side supports to prevent buckling during compression testing. For this study, the side supports were used for all compression tests.

LOW VELOCITY IMPACT RESULTS For the entire set of samples tested, partial/total facesheet penetration occurred for the 510 J impacts, total facesheet and partial core penetration for the 15 J impacts, and partial/total bottom facesheet penetration for the 2045 J impacts. In general, the initial force-time spike resulted from the top facesheet impact response, the following drop and slow increase resulted from the foam core crushing, and the final force-time spike resulted from the bottom facesheet impact response. Some deviation in the force-time results occurred because of the non-homogeneous nature of the foam filled honeycomb core. For some samples, the striker directly impacted the honeycomb structure after penetration of the top facesheet. The additional support for the top facesheet resulted in higher forces and more absorbed energy compared to when the striker missed the honeycomb structure. In addition, the bottom facesheet damage varied depending on whether the honeycomb structure was impacted, as can be seen by comparing the two 25 J impacts shown in Figures 2a and 2b. When the honeycomb structure was impacted, the loading was more distributed over the bottom facesheet and higher forces were required to create delamination and a larger cracking diameter. The low density of the core was the main reason that the honeycomb structure had such a significant affect on impact response. Lower forces were required to shear the facesheet when there was little support from the honeycomb structure. A higher density core would have likely reduced these affects. The top facesheet cracking diameter, Figure 2c, did not show any significant change regarding the amount of honeycomb structure impacted.

a b c Figure 2. 25 J Impact damage of CF sample a) Rear damage-honeycomb structure not impacted, b) Rear damage-honeycomb structure impacted c) Front impact damage The force-time curves shown in the appendix characterized how the maximum forces changed when Kevlar or hybrid were added to the facesheet. For each sample type, the force-time curves were split into two impact energy groupings: those that did not penetrate the bottom facesheet (5-15 J) and those that did (20-45 J). As shown in Table 5, the average maximum forces for the Kevlar samples (1K-4K) showed significant improvement over the CF samples. The hybrid samples (1H-4H) showed even more dramatic improvement when considering samples 2H-4H. The 1H samples were comparable to the CF samples. Table 5. Average Maximum Force Data Avg. Maximum Force (kN)/ Sample Type CF 1K 2K 3K 4K 1H 2H 3H 4H Avg. Maximum Force (kN)/

% Increase over CF
(5-15 J) 1.26 1.41 1.37 1.35 1.35 1.27 1.49 1.44 1.72 11.9% 8.7% 7.1% 7.1% 0.9% 18.2% 14.3% 36.5%

% Increase over CF
(20-45 J) 1.33 1.48 1.45 1.44 1.43 1.32 1.63 1.46 1.67 11.3% 9.0% 8.3% 7.5% -0.8% 22.5% 9.7% 25.6%

The maximum forces developed for the top facesheet varied when considering the carbon fiber, Kevlar, and hybrid sample types. The difference in maximum forces was likely a result of different failure modes. Each sample type had different tensile and shear properties. The CF samples had the high tensile strength, but lacked the shear strength needed to achieve the impact performance of the Kevlar and hybrid samples. The hybrid samples experienced the highest maximum forces, which was likely a result of the combination of high tensile and shear properties. The facesheet penetration damage, shown in Figure 3, illustrates the shear and tensile failure modes for the different sample types. The carbon fiber samples clearly experienced shear failure, which resulted in cracking that corresponded to the diameter of the striker. The Kevlar sample had a tensile failure mode, which is shown by the bending at the striker perimeter and tearing at the center of impact. The impact

damage to the top facesheet of the hybrid showed the failure characteristics of both the CF and 4K samples. The carbon fiber strands experienced shear failure/cracking and the Kevlar strands tensile failure/tearing.

a b c Figure 3. 15 J Impact Damage to a) CF, b) 4K, and c) 4H ABSORBED IMPACT ENERGY The addition of Kevlar and hybrid to layers 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the top facesheet resulted in higher absorbed energies compared to the CF samples as can be seen in Figures 4 and 5. All of the sample types were able to absorb impact energies up to 30 J. However, after 30 J the impact performance for the different sample types varied. This performance can be seen in Table 6, which lists the average absorbed energies of the 35-45 J impacts. These impacts resulted in complete sample penetration. No significant difference in impact performance was seen when considering the entire set of Kevlar samples, which consist of replacing layers 1-4 of the top facesheet as shown in Table 6. The additional layers of Kevlar were not required to achieve the improved impact performance. In fact, the 1K samples had the highest overall absorbed energy, reaching 36 J. This represents a 14% increase over the 31.5 J reached by the CF samples. Just like the Kevlar samples, only minor improvements were seen after adding the first layer of hybrid. This impact data validates the benefits of replacing only 1 layer of CF with Kevlar or hybrid. The Kevlar or hybrid layer provides additional protection against impact, while the remaining CF layers maintain the high stiffnessof the sandwich composite.

Figure 4. Absorbed vs. Impact Energy for CF all Kevlar sample types

Figure 5. Absorbed vs. Impact Energy for CF and all hybrid sample types Table 6. Avg. Absorbed Energy of 35 45J impact energies Sample Avg. Absorbed Energy (J) Type CF 1K 2K 3K 4K 1H 2H 3H 4H 31 34.9 33.2 34.5 33.5 32.4 31.9 33.1 32.8

COMPRESSION TEST RESULTS The maximum compressive stress resulting in failure for the different sample types is shown in Figures 6 and 7. The compression data is the average of two tests conducted at each impact energy. The non-impacted CF sample had the highest compressive strength at 15.1 MPa. This was approximately 11.5% and 8.6% higher than the average of the non-impacted Kevlar and hybrid samples, respectively. Although the general trend was decreased compressive strength with increased impact energy, some variation was observed. When delamination occurred to the bottom facesheet, the maximum compressive strength was greatly reduced. During testing, the delamination that occurred during impact quickly spread and caused the bottom facesheet to buckle. If a higher density, stronger core were used, the facesheet buckling would have likely occurred at much higher compressive loads. The impact damage consisted of either facesheet crushing, cracking, or delamination. As can be seen, the samples followed a trend of decreasing compressive strength as impact energy increased. The facesheet crushing occurred on samples with minimal or no initial impact damage shown in Figure 8a. The facesheet cracking occurred from the impact hole across the sample, perpendicular to the compressive load, as can be seen in Figure 8b. A combination of facesheet cracking and facesheet delamination occurred on some of samples impacted at high energies. This likely occurred as a result of the striker partially or totally penetrating the bottom facesheet. During these impacts, the bottom facesheet experienced both cracking and delamination, which increased once the compressive load was applied. The non-impacted compressive strength, the average compressive strength for 35-45 J impacts, and the percent decrease in compressive strength when comparing impacted to non-impacted samples can be seen in Table 7. Some deviation occurred when considering the non-impacted samples. The deviation between the different sample types can likely be attributed to irregularities between the facesheet/core bond and also the sporadic nature of facesheet crushing/cracking. In addition, when the carbon fiber layers were replaced by 2-4 layers of the Kevlar in the facesheet, loading eccentricities might have occurred. Considering the overall compressive strength data, the addition of Kevlar or hybrid to the facesheet did not seem to alter the compressive strength significantly. In fact, considering all the data, 1K-4K and 1H-4H, the non impacted compressive strength averaged less than a 10% drop. A noticeable difference between the different sample types was the percent decrease in

compressive strength when comparing impacted to non-impacted samples. The better impact performance of the Kevlar and hybrid samples seemed to reduce the decrease in compressive strength when compared to the CF samples.

Figure 6. Max. Compressive Stress vs. Impact Energy

Figure7. Max. Compressive Stress vs. Impact Energy Table 7. Compression Testing Data Impacted Non-Impacted Comp. Strength (MPa) Comp. Strength (MPa) 35-45 J (Average) 15.1 6.5 13.2 6.0 13.7 6.3 12.4 7.0 14.8 7.7 13.1 8.3 13.9 8.0 13.6 7.9 15.0 6.7

Sample Type CF 1K 2K 3K 4K 1H 2H 3H 4H

% Decrease Non Impacted-Impacted 57 55 54 44 48 37 42 42 55

a b Figure 8. a) Facesheet crushing during compression testing damage of 2H non impacted sample and b) Facesheet cracking from buckling during compression testing of 2H 30 J sample MODULUS OF ELASTICITY The modulus of elasticity for the carbon fiber, Kevlar, and hybrid were determined to characterize how the stiffness was reduced by the addition of Kevlar. ASTM standard D3039 was followed for determining the elastic moduli [26]. Table 8 lists the E1 and E2 values for the different sample types. Rule of mixtures was applied to determine how E1 and E2 of the facesheet changed when layers of carbon fiber were replaced with Kevlar or hybrid [27]. Table 8. Elastic Modulii for the different sample types

Facesheet Carbon Fiber Kevlar Hybrid (Kevlar E2 Direction) 1K 2K 3K 4K 1H 2H 3H 4H

E1 (GPa) 52 31 45 47.4 42.5 37 31 50.25 48.5 46.75 45

E2 (GPa) 52 31 26 47.4 42.5 37 31 45.5 39 32.5 26

CONCLUSION Carbon fiber sandwich composites have relatively low impact properties. In an attempt to improve upon the impact properties while maintaining the high stiffness, lightweight nature of the carbon fiber, Kevlar or hybrid were added to the facesheet. The impact and compression after impact data characterized how adding Kevlar or hybrid to the facesheet improved the sandwich composite performance during and after impact. The elastic moduli data helped characterize the loss in stiffness resulting form the addition of Kevlar or hybrid to the facesheet. The following conclusions were drawn from this study: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. The addition of Kevlar to the facesheet improved the maximum absorbed energy and average maximum impact force of the 1K-4K samples by approximately 10% compared to the CF samples. The addition of hybrid to the facesheet improved the maximum absorbed energy of the 1K-4K samples by approximately 5% and the average maximum impact force by approximately 14% compared to the CF samples. The addition of Kevlar or reduced the reduction in compression after impact strength when considering non-impacted samples and those that experienced complete striker penetration. However, the compression strength of the nonimpacted samples was the highest for the CF samples. The elastic moduli, E1 and E2, were reduced when Kevlar or hybrid were added to the facesheet. However, the reduction can be minimized to around 10% by replacing only one layer of carbon fiber with Kevlar or hybrid. The advantages and disadvantages of using 1K samples over CF are: Advantage a. 12.5% higher average absorbed energy (35 45 J) b. 11.9% higher average maximum force Disadvantage c. 12.7% lower non-impacted compressive strength d. Reduction in stiffness (9% decrease in E1 and E2)

6.

The advantages and disadvantages of using 1H samples over CF are: Advantage a. 4.5% higher average absorbed energy (35 45 J) Disadvantage b. 13% lower non-impacted compressive strength c. Properties are not orthotropic d. Reduction in stiffness (3.3% decrease in E1 and 12.5% decrease in E2)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The National Science Foundation, under Grant 0082832, and the NASA Space Grant Fellowship Program provided funding for this research. Their support is greatly appreciated. APPENDIX 4 Layers Carbon Fiber (CF)

(a) (b) Figure A1. Force vs. Time Response for CF: (a) 5-15 J; (b) 20-45 J 3 Layers Carbon Fiber 1 Layer Kevlar (1K)

(a) (b) Figure A2. Force vs. Time Response for 1K: (a) 5-15 J; (b) 20-45 J

2 Layers Carbon Fiber 2 Layers Kevlar (2K)

(a) (b) Figure A3. Force vs. Time Response for 2K: (a) 5-15 J; (b) 20-45 J 3 Layers Carbon Fiber 1 Layer Kevlar (3K)

(a) (b) Figure A4. Force vs. Time Response for 3K: (a) 5-15 J; (b) 20-45 J 4 Layers Kevlar (4K)

(a) (b) Figure A6. Force vs. Time Response for 4K: (a) 5-15 J; (b) 20-45 J

3 Layers Carbon Fiber 1 Layer Hybrid (1H)

(a) (b) Figure A7. Force vs. Time Response for 1H: (a) 5-15 J; (b) 20-45 J 2 Layers Carbon Fiber 2 Layers Hybrid (2H)

(a) (b) Figure A8. Force vs. Time Response for 2H: (a) 5-15 J; (b) 20-45 J 1 Layer Carbon Fiber 3 Layers Hybrid (3H)

(a) (b) Figure A9. Force vs. Time Response for 3H: (a) 5-15 J; (b) 20-45 J

4 Layer Hybrid (4H)

(a) (b) Figure A10. Force vs. Time Response for 4H: (a) 5-15 J; (b) 20-45 J

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