Process-induced strains in RTM processing of polyurethane/carbon composites
The development of residual strains and stresses is critical to manufacture composite structures with the required dimensional stability and mechanical performance. This work uses Fiber Bragg Grating (FBG) sensors to monitor strain build-up in carbon fiber composites with a polyurethane (PU) matrix designed for high production volume applications. The PU matrix presents an initially low viscosity combined with a fast cure reaction, which makes it adequate to very short processing cycles. FBG sensors were incorporated into PU-matrix composites manufactured by vacuum assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM). The measured strains were compared with those obtained with different benchmark epoxy-matrix composites and with those obtained through micromechanical finite element simulations. Results showed that most of the residual strains were built-up during cool-down from the post-curing temperature and that stresses in the PU-matrix composites were comparable to those obtained for epoxies with similar T-g. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.