Infoscience

Journal article

Stress-initiated void formation during cure of a three-dimensionally constrained thermoset resin

During cure of epoxy resins, polymerization induces an increase in mechanical properties, which is accompanied by a volumetric shrinkage. When the resin is cured in a constrained mold to which it adheres, tensile stresses will hence develop, which may exceed the strength of the resin at a given curing stage. Voids will then form. The origin and governing parameters of void formation are studied using an epoxy resin cured in a three-dimensionally constrained glass mold following isothermal cure cycles. Two types of voids are shown to appear during cure, one early in the process and a second around the gelation point. A viscoelastic analysis of the material stress state over the whole range of cure is performed. Both the viscoelastic modulus obtained from a time-cure-temperature superposition and the volumetric shrinkage, which was continuously measured by density change, are taken into account. A value for the critical internal stress at void initiation is thus proposed. This criterion can be used to provide guidelines for tailoring the material properties toward an increase of the critical stress for void initiation. Also, since during processing of composite materials, cases may arise where the resin cures within the interstices left between consolidated fibers that do not move, this critical stress failure criterion can be of use in the establishment of a process window providing guidelines for the production of void free composites.

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