Design of a novel conduction heating based stress-thermal cycling apparatus for composite materials and its utilization to characterize composite microcrack damage thresholds



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Texas A&M University


The objective of this research was to determine the effect of thermal cycling combined with mechanical loading on the development of microcracks in M40J/PMR-II- 50, the second generation aerospace application material. The objective was pursued by finding the critical controlling parameters for microcrack formation from mechanical stress-thermal cycling test. Three different in-plane strains (0%, 0.175~0.350%, and 0.325~0.650%) were applied to the composites by clamping composite specimens (M40J/PMR-II-50, [0,90]s, a unitape cross-ply) on the radial sides of half cylinders having two different radii (78.74mm and 37.96mm). Three different thermal loading experiments, 1) 23oC to ??????196oC to 250oC, 2) 23oC to 250oC, and 3) 23oC to -196oC, were performed as a function of mechanical inplane strain levels, heating rates, and number of thermal cycles. The apparatus generated cracks related to the in-plane stresses (or strains) on plies. The design and analysis concept of the synergistic stress-thermal cycling experiment was simplified to obtain main and interaction factors by applying 2k factorial design from the various factors affecting microcrack density of M40J/PMR-II-50. Observations indicate that the higher temperature portion of the cycle under load causes fiber/matrix interface failure. Subsequent exposure to higher stresses in the cryogenic temperature region results in composite matrix microcracking due to the additional stresses associated with the fiber-matrix thermal expansion mismatch.