By resolute definition, a fabricated COMPOSITE material is a manufactured collection of two or more ingredients or products intentionally combined to form a new homogeneous material that is defined by its performance that should uniquely greater than the sum of its individual parts. This method is also defined as SYNERGISTIC COMPOSITION.
COMPOSITE MATERIAL COMPOSITION
Follow Epoxy Mixing Video using our Fabrics and Impregnating Resins to produce Structural Strength Composite Laminate.
With respect to the raw materials selection (fabric and resin), the fabricating process and the intended composite properties, these 3 aspects must be carefully considered in the engineering phase of the composite.
TYPES OF FABRIC WEAVE STYLE AND SURFACE FINISHING
FOR RESIN TYPE COMPATIBILITY
Fabrics are generally considered ”balanced” if the breaking strength is within 15% warp to fill and are best in bias applications on lightweight structures. “Unbalanced” fabrics are excellent when a greater load is required one direction and a lesser load in the perpendicular direction.
- Tow: The bundle of individual carbon filaments used to weave carbon fabric. 50k tow means there are 48-50,000 carbon filaments in the tow. Smaller tow i.e. 12k, 6k, 3k and 1k are obtained by dividing the 50k tow into smaller bundles.
- Thread Count: The number of threads (tow in carbon and yarn in Aramid) per inch. The first number will be the warp count and the second will be the fill count. Fill: The threads that run the width of the roll or bolt and perpendicular to the warp threads.
- Warp: The threads that run the length of the roll or bolt and perpendicular to the fill threads.
- Finish: The chemical treatment to fiberglass making it compatible with resin systems, therefore improving the bond between the fiber and the resin. Finishing fiberglass typically decreases the fiber strength by as much as 50%. Both Silane and Volan finishes are epoxy compatible. Historically, Volan has been considered a softer finish for a more pliable fabric, but recent advances have yielded some excellent soft Silane finishes.
- Thickness: Measured in fractions of an inch. The thicker the fabric the more resin required to fill the weave to obtain a smooth finished part.
- Plain weave means the warp and fill threads cross alternately. This is the most common weave.
- 4 Harness (4 HS Satin or crowfoot) weave means the fill thread floats over three warp threads, then under one warp thread. This weave is more pliable than the plain weave, therefore conforms to complex curves more easily.
- 8 Harness (8 HS Satin) weave means the fill thread floats over seven warp threads, then under one warp thread. This weave is the most pliable of the standard fiberglass weaves.
- 2 x 2 Twill weave means the fill thread floats over two warp threads, then fewer than two warp threads. This weave is found most commonly in carbon fabrics and is more pliable than plain weave.
Most fabrics are stronger in the warp than the fill because higher tension is placed on the warp fiber keeping it straighter during the weaving process. Rare exceptions occur when a larger, therefore stronger thread is used in the fill direction than the warp direction.
PLAIN WEAVE is a very simple weave pattern and the most common style. The warp and fill yarns are interlaced over and under each other in alternating fashion. Plain weave provides good stability, porosity and the least yarn slippage for a given yarn count.
8 HARNESS SATIN WEAVE is similar to the four-harness satin except that one filling yarn floats over seven warp yarns and under one.
This is a very pliable weave and is used for forming over curved surfaces.
4 HARNESS SATIN WEAVE is more pliable than the plain weave and is easier to conform to curved surfaces typical in reinforced plastics. In this weave pattern there is a three by one interfacing where a filling yarn floats over three warp yarns and under one.
2×2 TWILL WEAVE is more pliable than the plain weave and has better drivability while maintaining more fabric stability than a four or eight harness satin weave. The weave pattern is characterized by a diagonal rib created by one warp yarn floating over at least two filling yarns.
COMMERCIAL FIBERGLASS-FABRIC WEAVER
Finishing Cross Reference
Resin Type Compatibility
n-pH (neutral pH)
Satin Weave Style For Contoured Parts Fabricating
These styles of fabrics are one of the easiest fabrics to use and it is ideal for laying up cowls, fuselages, ducts and other contoured surfaces with minimal distortions.
The fabric is more pliable and can comply with complex contours and spherical shapes. Because of its tight weave style, satin weaves are typically used as the surface ply for heavier and courser weaves.
This technique helps reduce fabric print through and requires less gel coat to create a smoother surface.
Satin weave type conformity unto curved shapes
Plain Weaves, Bi-axial, Unidirectional Styles For Directional High Strength Parts
Use this weave style cloth when high strength parts are desired.
It is ideal for reinforcement, mold making, aircraft and auto parts tooling, marine and other composite lightweight applications.
Plain weave style for high strength
FRP – FIBER REINFORCED PLASTIC.
The epoxy resin used in fabricating a laminate will dictate how the FRP will perform when load or pressure is implied on the part.
To choose the proper resin system consider the following factors that is crucial to a laminate’s performance.
SIZE AND CONFIGURATION OF THE PART
NUMBER OF PLIES AND CONTOURED, FLAT OR PROFILED
FREE STANDING DRY OR HAND LAY-UP, VACUUM BAG OR PLATEN PRESS CURING
HEAT CURED OR ROOM TEMPERATURE CURED
SHEARING FORCE, TORSIONAL AND DIRECTIONAL LOAD, BEAM STRENGTH
The principal role of the resin is to bind the fabric into a homogeneous rigid substrate.
OPERATING TEMPERATURE, AMBIENT CONDITIONS, HUMIDITY, CHEMICAL EXPOSURE, CYCLIC FORCE LOADING
MATERIAL AND PRODUCTION COST
BUYING IN BULK WILL ALWAYS PROVIDE THE BEST OVERALL COSTS AS WELL AS DOING IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME
These factors will dictate the design and the composition of the part and must be carefully considered during the design and engineering phase of the fabrication.
OUR GENERAL EPOXY RESIN SYSTEM SELECTION FORMULATED FOR SPECIFIC APPLICATIONS
- MAX BOND THIXOTROPIC A/B MARINE GRADE HIGH STRENGTH ADHESIVE
- MAX BOND LOW VISCOSITY A/B MARINE GRADE STRUCTURAL EPOXY RESIN
- MAX HTE A/B HIGH TEMPERATURE EPOXY RESIN SYSTEM
- MAX PCR A/B WOOD ROT REPAIR & PROTECTIVE COATING RESIN
- MAX GRE A/B GASOLINE RESISTANT EPOXY RESIN
- MAX GPE COLORED EPOXY RESIN
- AVAILABLE IN WHITE, BLACK, RED YELLOW & BLUE
- MAX CLR-HP
HIGH PERFORMANCE VERSION WITH HIGHER HEAT RESISTANCE,TOUGHNESS AND SURFACE HARDNESS
- MAX GPE A/B CLEAR LOW COST GENERAL PURPOSE EPOXY RESIN
- MAX CLR CLEAR LIQUID RESIN SYSTEM**
LOW VISCOSITY VERSION EXTENDED POT LIFE AND IMPROVED FLEXIBILITY
- MAX CLR FAST 30% FASTER SETTING VERSION
- MAX CLR TC
IMPROVED DEGASSING AND SURFACE QUALITY
MAX CLR TC FOR TOP COAT USE ONLY
- ** AN ALIPHATIC BASED TOP COAT REQUIRED FOR OUTDOOR AND DIRECT SUNLIGHT APPLICATION
NON-YELLOWING ALIPHATIC POLYURETHANE TOP COAT
MAX GPE FOR GENERAL CONSTRUCTION LOW COST APPLICATIONS
SAFE TO USE ON POLYSTYRENE FOAM
MAX CLR HP CRYSTAL CLEAR HIGH PERFORMANCE APPLICATION
NOTE HOW THE WATER BEADS WHEN THE WATER IS APPLIED OVER THE COATED AREA
MAX BOND LOW VISCOSITY FOR MARINE APPLICATIONS
MAX GPE FOR GENERAL CONSTRUCTION
LOW COST APPLICATIONS
SAFE TO USE ON POLYSTYRENE FOAM
MAX CLR HP CRYSTAL CLEAR HIGH PERFORMANCE APPLICATION
MAX HTE FOR HIGH TEMPERATURE RESISTANCE APPLICATIONS
Specimens were cured 3 Hours at 25˚C plus 2 Hours At 155˚C
- Layout the fabric and precut to size and set aside
- Avoid distorting the weave pattern as much as possible
- For fiberglass molding, insure the mold is clean and adequate mold release is used
- View our video presentation “MAX EPOXY RESIN MIXING TECHNIQUE“
- Mix the resin only when all needed materials and implements needed are ready and within reach
Mix the proper amount of resin needed and be accurate proportioning the resin and curing agent. Adding more curing agent than the recommended mix ratio will not promote a faster cure. Over saturation or starving the fiberglass or any composite fabric will yield poor mechanical performance. When mechanical load or pressure is applied on the composite laminate, the physical strength of the fabric should bear the stress and not the resin. If the laminate is over saturated with the resin it will most likely to fracture or shatter instead of rebounding and resist damage.
Don’t how much resin to use to go with the fiberglass?
A good rule of thumb is to maintain a minimum of 30 to 35% resin content by weight, this is the optimum ratio used in high performance prepreg (or pre-impregnated fabrics) typically used in aerospace and high performance structural application.For general hand lay-ups, calculate using 60% fabric weight to 40% resin weight as a safe factor. This will insure that the fabricated laminate will be below 40% resin content depending on the waste factor accrued during fabrication.
Place the entire precut fiberglass to be used on a digital scale to determine the fabric to resin weight ratio. Measuring by weight will insure accurate composite fabrication and repeatability, rather than using OSY data.
Typical fabric weights regardless of weave pattern
1 yard of 8 OSY fabric at 38 inches wide weighs 224 grams
1 yard of 10 OSY fabric at 38 inches wide weighs 280 grams
Ounces per square yard or OSY is also know as aerial weight which is the most common unit of measurement for composite fabrics.
To determine how much resin is needed to adequately impregnate the fiberglass, use the following equation:
(Total Weight of Fabric divided by 60%)X( 40%)= weight of mixed resin needed
fw= fabric weight
rc= target resin content
1 SQUARE YARD OF 8-OSY FIBERGLASS FABRIC WEIGHS 224 GRAMS
(224 grams of dry fiberglass / 60%) X 40% = 149.33 grams of resin needed
So for every square yard of 8-ounce fabric,
It will need 149.33 grams of mixed resin.
Computing for resin and curing agent requirements based on
149.33 grams of resin needed
MIX RATIO OF RESIN SYSTEM IS 2:1 OR
50 PHR (per hundred resin)
2 = 66.67% (2/3)
1 = 33.33%(1/3)
(2+1)=3 or (66.67%+33.33%)=100% or (2/3+1/3)= 3/3
149.33x 66.67%= 99.56 grams of Part A RESIN
149.33x 33.33%= 49.77 grams of Part B Curing Agent
99.56+ 49.77 = 149.33 A/B MIXTURE
GENERAL FIBERGLASSING AND FRP FABRICATION
A 4 X 8 FEET 3/8 INCH THICK FIBERGLASS PANEL WAS FABRICATED WITH 18 PLIES OF 24 OUNCE FIBERGLASS ROVING IMPREGNATED WITH MAX GPE RESIN SYSTEM. THE PANEL WAS VACUUM CURED FOR 24 HOURS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE AND THEN POST CURED FOR 2 HOURS AT 200°F AND THEN TESTED USING ASTM D695 TEST PROCEDURE.
32 PERCENT AVERAGE RESIN CONTENT
DETERMINATION OF FIBER TO RESIN RATIO
NOTE THE MODE OF FAILURE OF THE COMPRESSION SPECIMENS ILLUSTRATING A CROSS AXIS FROM THE TOP AND BOTTOM PF THE SPECIMEN.
UNDER MAGNIFIED EXAMINATION, EVIDENCE OF RESIN MATRIX RESIDUE WAS PRESENT ON EACH PLY OF THE FIBERGLASS, THIS MODE OF FAILURE DENOTES A COHESIVE FAILURE OR A DIRECT SPLITTING OF THE RESIN ITSELF.
15,116 PSI MAXIMUM COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH (0.417 load area)
Common Factors Of 100% Solids (Zero volatiles and unfilled epoxy resin)
1 gallon of resin = 4239 grams (1.12 g/cc)
1 gallon = 128 fluid ounces
1 gallon of resin = 231 cubic inches
1 fluid ounce of resin = 33.17 grams
Apply the mixed resin unto the surface and then lay the fabric and allow the resin to saturate through the fabric.
NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND
This is one of the most common processing error that yields sub-standard laminates. By laying the fiberglass unto a film of resin, less air bubbles are entrapped during the wetting-out stage. Air is pushed up and outwards instead of forcing the resin through the fabric which will entrap air bubbles. This technique will displace air pockets unhindered and uniformly disperse throughout the fiberglass with minimal mechanical agitation or spreading.
Note the slide show presentation
Typical Fiberglass Reinforcing Technique Unto A Wood Substrate
For Vacuum Bagging Process
MAX BOND LOW VISCOSITY A/B
LAMINATE CONFIGURATION FLAT PANEL
USED FOR STRUCTURAL APPLICATIONS
ROOM TEMPERATURE CURED
HEXCEL 7781 9 OUNCE 8-HARNESS SATIN WEAVE TOP AND BOTTOM PLIE
15 LAYERS CORE 24-OUNCE FIBERGLASS PLAIN WEAVE ROVING
LAMINATE CONFIGURATION CONTOURED SPEAKER ENCLOSURE
MAX CLR-HP A/B used
FOR CARBON FIBER CRYSTAL CLEAR HIGH PERFORMANCE SINGLE PLY 12-OUNCE 2X2 TWILL WEAVE CARBON FIBER
Given enough time and the proper selection of the fabric surface treatment (fabric to resin compatibility), a dry fabric will seek a state equilibrium and distribute the applied resin and naturally release air bubbles entrapped within the laminate. It is then very important that the proper viscosity, working time and surface treatment of the fabric must be considered depending on the application of the composite structure. There are also fabricating techniques that can be employed to yield high performance laminates. Depending on the size of the part, processes such as high pressure pressing, vacuum bagging and vacuum assisted resin transfer molding are superior methods over hand dry lay-up. Air voids or porosity within the laminate is typically where failure propagates when load is applied (fracturing, compression failure, tearing, torque, tensile strength, creep).
VACUUM RESIN FUSION PROCESS WITH MAX 1618 A/B
Allow the lay-up to cure for a minimum of 24 to 36 hours before handling.
Optimum cured properties can take up to 7 days depending on the ambient cure condition.
The ideal temperature cure condition of most room temperature epoxy resin is 22 to 27 degrees Celsius at 20% relative humidity.
Higher ambient curing temperatures will promote faster polymerization and development of cured mechanical properties.
Improving mechanical performance via post heat cure
A short heat post cure will further improve the mechanical performance of most epoxy resins. Allow the applied resin system to cure at room temperature until for 18 to 24 hours and if possible, expose heat cure it in an oven or other source of radiant heat (220°F to 250°F) for 45 minute to an hour. You can also expose it to direct sunlight but place a dark colored cover, such as a tarp or cardboard to protect it from ultraviolet exposure.
In general room temperature cured epoxy resin has a maximum operating temperature of 160°F or lower.
A short heat post cure will insure that the mixed epoxy system is fully cured,
especially for room temperature cured system that can take up to 7 days to achieve 100% cure.
Some darkening or yellowing of the epoxy resin may occur if over exposed to high temperature (>250 F).
The affinity of an amine compound (curing agent) to moisture and carbon dioxide creates a carbonate compound and forms what is called amine blush. Amine blush is a wax-like layer that forms as most epoxies cure. If the epoxy system is cured in extreme humidity (>70%).
It will be seen as a white and waxy layer that must be removed by physical sanding of the surface followed by an acetone wipe.
Although we have formulated the MAX CLR, MAX BOND and MAX GPE product line to be resistant to amine-blush, it is recommended not to mix any resin systems in high humidity conditions, greater than 60%.
Always make sure that the substrate or material the epoxy resin system is being applied to is as dry as possible to insure the best cured performance.
OTHER TYPES OF EPOXY RESIN CURE MECHANISM
LATENT CURING SYSTEMS
Latent epoxy resins are systems that are mixed together at room temperature and will begin polymerization but it will not achieve full cure unless it is exposed to a heat cure cycle. In general, these are high performance systems that demonstrate exceptional performance under extreme conditions such as high mechanical performance under heat and cryogenics temperatures, chemical resistance or any environment that epoxy room temperature system perform marginally or poorly.
Upon the mixing of the resin and curing agent polymerization will begin and will only achieve partial cure. Some resins may appear cured or dry to the touch, this state is called ‘B-Stage Cure’ ,but upon application of force will either be gummy or brittle almost glass-like and will dissolve in most solvents. The semi-cured resin must be exposed to an elevated temperature for it to continue polymerization and achieve full cure.
UV CURING SYSTEMS
Similar to “addition cure” or catalytic polymerization, Ultraviolet Curing is another method that has gained popular use in the polymer adhesives and coatings application. It offers a unique curing mechanism that converts a liquid polymer into a solid plastic upon exposure to UV radiation. The two common commercially significant method are “FREE RADICAL INITIATION” and CATIONIC REACTION. In both reaction polymerization occurs via decomposition of a Photoiniator blended within the resin system; upon exposure to adequate wavelength of Ultraviolet energy the photoinitator degrades and cause a ring opening or cleavage of the photoinitiator molecule and induces rapid polymerization or cross linking.
The polymerization reaction can be either free radical or cationic and occurs almost instantaneous creation of a polymer network.
HEAT ACTIVATED CURING SYSTEMS
This type of epoxy system will not polymerized unless it is exposed to the activation temperature of the curing agent which can be as low as 200F and as high as 400F. In most instances our MAX EPOXY SYSTEMS epoxy system can be stored at room temperature and remain liquid for up to six months and longer
USE AN INFRARED HEAT LAMP FOR LARGER PARTS IF A PROCESS OVEN IS NOT AVAILABLE
POSSIBLE HEAT CURING TECHNIQUES
If an oven is not available to provide the needed thermal post cure, exposing the assemble part to direct solar heat (sun exposure) for a period will provide enough heat cure for the part to be handled.
Other heat curing such as infrared heat lamps can be used if a heat chamber or oven is not available.