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- Composite skin/stringer flange debond specimens manufactured from composite prepreg containing interleaf layers with a polymer based healing agent encapsulated in thin walled spheres were tested. As a crack develops and grows in the base polymer, the spheres fracture releasing the healing agent. The agent reacts with catalyst and polymerizes healing the crack. In addition, through-thickness reinforcement, in the form of pultruded carbon z-pins were included near the flange tips to improve the resistance to debonding. Specimens were manufactured with 14 plies in the skin and 10 plies in the stiffener flange. Three-point bend tests were performed to measure the skin/stiffener debonding strength and the recovered strength after healing. The first three tests performed indicated no healing following unloading and reloading. Micrographs showed that delaminations could migrate to the top of the interleaf layer due to the asymmetric loading, and hence, bypass most of the embedded capsules. For two subsequent tests, specimens were clamped in reverse bending before reloading. In one case, healing was observed as evidenced by healing agent that leaked to the specimen edge forming a visible "scar". The residual strength measured upon reloading was 96% of the original strength indicating healing had occurred. Hence, self-healing is possible in fiber reinforced composite material under controlled conditions, i.e., given enough time and contact with pressure on the crack surfaces. The micro-encapsulation technique may prove more robust when capsule sizes can be produced that are small enough to be embedded in the matrix resin without the need for using an interleaf layer. However, in either configuration, the amount of healing that can occur may be limited to the volume of healing agent available relative to the crack volume that must be filled.
- Document ID: 20080040162.
American Society for Composites 23rd Annual Technical Conference; 9-11 Sep. 2008; Memphis, TN; United States.
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