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Investigating the Influence of Environmental Conditioning on Epoxy Resins at Quasistatic and High Strain Rates for Material Operating Limit



Epoxy resin-based composite panels used for armors may be subjected to a wide range of operating temperatures (-55°C to 76°C) and high strain rates on the order of 103-104 s-1. Over the life cycle, various environmental factors also affect the resin properties and hence influence the performance of the composites. Therefore, it is critical to determine the stress-strain behavior of the epoxy resin over a wide range of strain rates and temperatures for accurate multi-scale modeling of composites and to investigate the influence of environmental aging on the resin properties. Additionally, the characterization of key mechanical properties such as yield stress, modulus, and energy absorption (i.e. area under the stress-strain curve) at varying temperatures and moisture can provide critical data to calculate the material operating limits. In this study, we characterize mechanical properties of neat epoxy resin, SC-15 (currently used in structural armor) and RDL-RDC using uniaxial compression testing. RDL-RDC, developed by Huntsman Corporation, has a glass transition temperature of ~ 120°C, compared to ~ 85°C of SC-15. A split Hopkinson pressure bar is used for high strain rate testing. Quasistatic testing is conducted using a screw-driven testing machine (Instron 4484) at 10-3 s-1 and 10-1 s-1 strain rates and varying temperatures. The yield stress is fit to a modified Eyring model over the varying strain rates at room temperature. For rapid investigation of resistance to environmental aging, accelerated aging tests are conducted by immersing the specimens in 100°C water for 48 hours. Specimens are conditioned in an environmental chamber at 76 °C and 88% RH until they reach equilibrium. Tests are then conducted at five different temperatures from 0°C to 95°C, and key mechanical properties are then plotted vs. temperature. The results presented are an important step towards developing a methodology to identify environmental operating conditions for composite ground vehicle applications.


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