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Hydraulic Bulge Testing to Compare Formability of Continuous and Stretch Broken Carbon Fiber Prepreg Laminates



The use of carbon fiber reinforced polymer composites has increased with the increased need for high-strength, low-density materials, particularly in the aviation industry. Stretch broken carbon fiber (SBCF) is a form of carbon fiber created by the randomized breaking of aligned fibers in a tow at inherent flaw points, resulting in a material constituted of collimated fiber fragments longer than chopped fibers. While continuous carbon fibers possess desirable material properties, the limited formability prevents their wider adoption. SBCF composites exhibit pseudo-plastic deformation that can potentially enable the use of traditional metal forming techniques like stamping and press forming well established in mass production applications. To investigate the formability of SBCF composites prepared with either continuous or stretch broken Hexcel IM-7 12K fiber, impregnated with Huntsman RDM 2019-053 resin, hydraulic bulge testing was performed to explore the strain behavior under biaxial stress conditions at elevated temperature under atmospheric pressure. Initial results show better formability of SBCF compared to continuous fiber, characterized by the axisymmetric response to the applied stress.


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