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Sheet forming process of carbon ber reinforced plastics for lightweight parts

Jun Yanagimoto (2)


a,
*, Katsuyoshi Ikeuchi
b
a
Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo, Komaba 4-6-1, Meguro, Tokyo, Japan
b
Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo, Komaba 4-6-1, Meguro, Tokyo, Japan
1. Introduction
There is increasing demand for the manufacture of lightweight
bodies for environmentally friendly vehicles, construction
machines and airplanes with the aim of reducing energy use. This
trend requires the forming of metallic sheets with higher strength
per weight, such as those of titanium alloys, magnesium alloys,
high-tensile aluminum alloys and steels. Among them, although
aluminum alloys and high-strength steels are used in vehicles,
steels are still the main material used in the mass production of
stamped sheets for vehicles [1].
There are two major trends in the forming of lightweight
products with high strength exceeding 1 GPa from steel sheets:
one is to form a sheet with a strength of 1 GPa in the cold state [2],
and the other is to stamp a hot sheet and then quench it to
strengthen the stamped sheet [3]. There is also strong demand for
lightweight products with strength exceeding 1.5 GPa. The cold
stamping of advanced high-strength sheets (AHSSs) with such
strength is much more difcult owing to the poor workability of
steels and the large amount of springback of the product. The hot
stamping of quenchable steels such as boron steel is easier in terms
of the workability of steels and the springback of products;
however, there are also the drawbacks of the poor surface quality
of products and the longer forming and quenching times, which
reduce productivity. Moreover, a higher amount of investment is
required for the furnace and machinery than that required for cold
stamping. The demand for lightweight parts with higher strength
is essential for reducing environmental impact; thus, it will be
difcult for the present methods of cold stamping and hot
stamping to realize products with a strength of 2 GPa or more
with high productivity that are expected to be required in future.
A feasible means of meeting the demand for lightweight parts is
to use products made of CFRPs (carbon ber reinforced plastics).
The research and development of CFRPs has previously been
mainly based on the design of composites with improved
mechanical properties and their machining, for example, the
tensile fatigue behavior of cross-ply carboncarbon laminates at
room temperature [4] and the dependence of the mechanical and
tribological properties of composites on the orientation of long
carbon bers [5]. Research on the machining [6] and assembly [7]
of CFRPs has been reviewed and presented in CIRP annals. CFRPs
are now being used in aircraft bodies [8], where carbon bers are
impregnated with a matrix resin as an epoxy and then formed into
the desired shape before bake hardening in an autoclave. The
specic strength of such CFRPs made of a thermosetting resin is
reasonably high; however, the manufacturing process is too
complex and requires too much time, making it unsuitable for the
mass production of CFRP parts such as those for automobiles.
Several research and development studies have been carried
out on the use of conventional forming processes for the
fabrication of CFRPs such as autoclave [9] and molding processes
[10]. The shaping processes for FRPs were reviewed by Ma nson
et al. [11]. The number of basic investigations and attempts to form
CFRPs is increasing, such as the hot forming of non-crimp fabric
composite materials [12], and nite element analysis of the hot
forming process of ber-reinforced thermoplastics [13]. The above
forming methods of FRPs are summarized in Fig. 1, in which
representative fabrication methods of FRP parts such as molding,
stamping and processing in an autoclave are characterized in a
two-dimensional plane with axes of productivity and strength
and stability. It is easily understandable that the quality of
products fabricated by the conventional forming of FRPs is in
inverse proportion to cost; however, products with high strength
can be formed with high productivity and low cost if we can stamp
solidied CFRP sheets under cold and warm conditions. However,
no studies have been reported on the cold and warm forming of
solidied CFRP sheets made of thermosetting resin, which is brittle
and impossible to be formed in the cold and warm conditions.
A new sheet forming process for solidied CFRP, in which a
CFRP sheet is sandwiched by dummy metallic sheets during
stamping, is proposed in this paper. In the proposed process,
CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 61 (2012) 247250
A R T I C L E I N F O
Keywords:
Forming
Fiber reinforced plastic
Sheet
A B S T R A C T
The use of carbon ber reinforced plastics is increasing markedly, particularly in aircraft bodies, but the
time required to manufacture CFRP parts should be shortened to realize mass production. The stamping
of solidied CFRP sheets can reduce the production time and may increase the exibility of the
manufacturing process. A new sheet forming process for solidied CFRP, in which a CFRP sheet is
sandwiched by dummy metallic sheets during stamping, is proposed. The dummy metallic sheets act as
protective materials as well as media for heating the CFRP sheet. The results of applying the proposed
process are presented.
2012 CIRP.
* Corresponding author.
Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology
j ournal homepage: ht t p: / / ees. el sevi er. com/ ci rp/ def aul t . asp
0007-8506/$ see front matter 2012 CIRP.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cirp.2012.03.129
carbon bers are impregnated with a matrix resin as an epoxy,
heated to harden them, then cooled to room temperature to obtain
a solidied CFRP sheet. Then the solidied CFRP sheet is plastically
formed into the desired shape by cold or warm stamping. Dummy
metallic sheets act as protective materials as well as media for
heating the CFRP sheet during stamping by a pair of dies. The
results of applying the proposed process to embossing (shallow
drawing), hat bending and beam formation are presented.
2. Experimental procedure and conditions
2.1. Forming process of CFRP sheet made of thermosetting resin
The forming process of a CFRP sheet made of thermosetting
resin is schematically illustrated in Fig. 2. During the forming
process, a CFRP sheet is sandwiched by dummy metallic sheets,
which protect the brittle CFRP sheet and also heat the sheet. The
dummy metallic sheets can be reused after forming the CFRP sheet
to minimize waste.
Three types of CFRP sheet forming at room temperature and a
temperature of up to 473 K were investigated in this study: hat
bending, V-bending into a long product and embossing. Embossing
was conducted using a 50 kN hydraulic servo press. Here, dummy
sheets were heated by an induction heating unit and held at the
target temperature, whereas hat bending and V-bending into a
long product were conducted using a 1100 kN digitally controlled
AC servo press with a link mechanism. Here the die and punch
temperatures were controlled by a ceramic heater installed in
them. As the manufacturing process for obtaining a long product
from a CFRP sheet, roll forming is the most promising method;
however, owing to our limited experimental facilities, a simple die-
bending process was applied to demonstrate the forming of a CFRP
sheet into a long product. Although the dummy metallic sheets can
be reused, as illustrated in Fig. 2, they were not reused in the
present investigation.
2.2. Macrostructure of CFRP sheets made of thermosetting resin
Two basic CFRP sheets are used in the sheet forming
investigation. The sheet manufacturing process starts with the
formation of a prepreg of 0.1 mm thickness, in which carbon bers
with 0.005 mm (5 mm) diameter are impregnated with an epoxy,
where the glass transition temperature of the carbon bers is about
500 K. Then two types of hardened CFRP sheet are produced: one is
a sheet with 0.3 mm thickness in which carbon bers are aligned in
the same direction, which is denoted as t0.3_xx, and the other is a
0.5-mm-thick CFRP sheet made of ve prepreg layers, where the
bers in alternate layers are aligned perpendicular to each other,
which is denoted as t0.5_xx, as shown in Fig. 3. Note that the resin
is a normal thermosetting epoxy such as that used in a
conventional process, but the CFRP sheet is hardened and then
formed in a cold or warm state. In other words, the product shape is
not formed in an autoclave but using a die and punch, similarly to
in a conventional metallic sheet forming process. This process
presupposes the high-speed manufacturing of CFRP sheets, or
strips, made of a thermosetting resin, such as by manufacturing the
prepreg by rolling and continuous heating.
It is natural to assume that the relative orientation of the CFRP
sheet to the die is an important parameter determining the
formability of CFRP sheets. The relative orientation in degrees is
hereinafter denoted as a number after the sheet thickness such as
t0.3_0 or t0.3_90. Note that t0.5_0/90 denotes a CFRP sheet of
0.5 mm thickness, in which the relative orientations of carbon
bers to the dies are 08 and 908. The experimental conditions used
for the embossing, hat bending and V-bending of CFRP sheets are
summarized in Table 1, in which the sheet thickness, relative
orientation of the sheets and forming temperature are shown for
the three types of CFRP sheet forming at room temperature and a
temperature of up to 473 K.
3. Experimental results
3.1. Embossing (shallow drawing)
The dimensions of the dies used for embossing CFRP sheets are
shown in Fig. 4. Two dummy sheets made of mild steel with
different thicknesses are used. The maximum drawing depth of
CFRP sheets is 3.0 mm throughout the experiments in this section.
The drawn depth of each CFRP sheet after embossing is
summarized in Fig. 5. A t0.3 mm CFRP sheet cannot be formed
at room temperature, irrespective of the relative orientation of the
bers to the die, but a sheet can be formed if the dummy sheets are
heated to only 373 K by induction heating. In contrast, a t0.5 mm
CFRP sheet can be formed even at room temperature. The drawn
depth of the product increases at elevated temperatures due to the
reduced springback of CFRP sheets at higher temperatures. The
drawn depth decreases with increasing t
D
. This results from the
larger amount of springback of the dummy sheet immediately
after sandwich forming. Proles of formed CFRP sheets are shown
in Fig. 6. Products with a sound prole and surface were obtained
throughout this investigation, except t0.3 mm sheet at room
temperature.
Fig. 1. Forming methods of FRPs characterized in two-dimensional plane with
productivity and strength and stability axes.
This gure is modied from that originally drawn by Toray Industries, Inc. (http://
www.chubu.meti.go.jp/jisedai_aerospace/pdf/110715ncc.pdf, Last visited: 16.02.12).
Fig. 3. Macrostructure of prepreg and layered CFRP sheets used in this investigation.
Fig. 2. Forming process of CFRP sheet proposed in this investigation.
J. Yanagimoto, K. Ikeuchi / CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 61 (2012) 247250 248
As stated above, the sound forming of CFRP sheets is possible
using the proposed forming process even at room temperature,
although thermosetting-resin-based CFRP sheets are drawn here.
Mechanism of formability enhancement of CFRP sheet by proposed
process is shown in Fig. 7. Bending strain at the surface e
max
satises following Eq. (1) for a thin sheet of total thickness t.
e
max

t
2R
n

rt
2
(1)
Here, R
n
and r are the radius and curvature of neutral plane,
respectively. Bending strain gradient in thickness directions yields
following Eq. (2).
de
b
dy

2e
max
t
2
rt
2

1
t
r (2)
Here, y is the thickness coordinate. Strain gradient in thickness
direction should distribute uniformly in thickness direction, as is
highlighted by the blue line in Fig. 8. If we consider the instance
when the necking of CFRP layer is initiated at point B, this necking
causes compressive thickness strain increment and tensile bending
strain increment De
B
b
. Curvature of neutral plane r is unchanged
after the initiation of necking, and strain in hoop direction at the
surface of CFRP layer is unchanged. Then, compressive bending
strain increment, denoted De
A
b
, tends to occur at the adjacent point
A to compensate De
B
b
, but such redundant strain increment De
A
b
is
suppressed by uniformity of strain gradient expressed by Eq. (2). In
consequence, necking initiation at the surface of CFRP layer is
suppressed by the uniformity of strain gradient, and the
formability of CFRP sheet is enhanced by the proposed forming
process.
Another criterion for evaluating products is their macrostruc-
ture, as shown in Fig. 8 for a t0.5_45/135 specimen obtained by
warm forming at 373 K. Although slight damage to the carbon
bers is observed, the macrostructure of the CFRP sheet remains
relatively sound after the warm forming. As pointed out before, the
design of carbon ber textiles in formable CFRP sheets to reduce
internal macroscopic damage after forming is expected to be an
important topic of investigation in future.
3.2. Hat bending
An overview and the dimensions of the die and punch used in
hat bending are shown in Fig. 9(a). Although the tool used for
three-dimensional hat bending has a variable bottom width in the
longitudinal direction, we rst carried out simple two-dimensional
Fig. 4. Dimensions of dies used for embossing of CFRP sheets.
Fig. 5. Comparison of drawn depth of embossed products.
Fig. 8. Macrostructure of CFRP sheet after embossing. Fig. 6. Proles of CFRP sheets after embossing.
(Iniaon of necking)
Strain gradient of 2
max
/t
Redundant strain increment of
point A due to iniaon of
necking
b

is suppressed by
uniformity of strain gradient.

max

max
Total thickness t

Radius 1/

Fig. 7. Mechanism of formability enhancement of a sandwiched CFRP sheet by the


proposed forming process.
Table 1
Summary of experimental conditions used for the embossing, hat bending and V-bending of CFRP sheets.
CFRP sheet Forming temperature Dummy sheet
293 K (room temperature), 373 K Mild steel (t
D
: 0.3 mm, 1.0 mm)
293 K (room temperature), 373 K, 473 K Mild steel (t
D
: 0.3 mm)
Mild steel (t
D
: 1.0 mm)
J. Yanagimoto, K. Ikeuchi / CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 61 (2012) 247250 249
hat-bending experiments to determine the basic characteristics
of CFRP sheets during forming, because hat bending includes the
basic deformation of sheets such as bending and unbending at
the die shoulder. The product obtained by the warm forming of a
t0.3 mm CFRP sheet at 473 K, in which the bers are aligned in
the same direction, is shown in Fig. 9(b). This may not be a good
example of a product because of the large amount of springback,
but it shows that a CFRP sheet can be bent in a hat shape with the
camber of the side wall induced by bending and unbending at the
die shoulder, which is commonly observed in metallic materials.
Fig. 9(c) shows the product formed by the three-dimensional hat
bending of a t0.5_0/90 CFRP sheet at 473 K. Although macro-
scopic wrinkles and large springback are observed, the CFRP
sheet is successfully formed in the solid state at a moderate
temperature.
3.3. V-bending into long product
There is strong demand for long products, such as members
with a length of 25 m used in high-speed railroad vehicle bodies.
The use of an autoclave for such long products may be
disadvantageous because of thermal expansion and shrinkage in
the length direction and limitations of the length of the heating
device and autoclave. Hence, the forming of CFRP sheets into long
products is a promising method and is demonstrated in this study
by performing simple bending. The die dimensions are illustrated
in Fig. 10. Here, a w50 mmL300 mm sheet is used. The
experimental results of V-bending to form a long product are
summarized in Fig. 11. A t0.3_90 CFRP sheet was observed to tear
during forming at room temperature. This may result from the
breakage of carbon bers aligned perpendicular to the sharp ridge
line of the punch. However, t0.3_0 and t0.5_0/90 sheets can be
formed without breakage, although a large amount of springback
was observed. When the die is heated to 373 K, all CFRP sheets can
be formed even in t0.3_90 sheet. These results are good examples
for demonstrating that long products can be manufactured by the
proposed process.
4. Conclusion
A new forming method for CFRP sheets made of thermosetting
resin has been proposed. This method uses dummy metallic sheets
as protective layers and heating media, and enables the sound
forming of CFRP sheets at lower temperatures of room temperature
and 373 K. The basic characteristics of CFRP sheet forming are
claried by performing embossing, hat bending and V-bending to
form long products, which demonstrated the validity of the newly
proposed method. If the proposed forming method is combined
with the high-speed manufacturing of CFRP sheets, or strips, made
of thermosetting resin, the productivity of parts made of CFRP will
be markedly improved. Thus, new lightweight products for use in
vehicles, construction machines and airplanes with sufciently
high quality can be manufactured at a lower cost.
Acknowledgement
This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientic
Research (A) (22246093) supported by the Ministry of Education,
Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan.
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Fig. 10. Dimensions of die and punch used in V-bending of CFRP sheet into long
product.
Fig. 11. Comparison of geometry of CFRP sheets after V-bending at room
temperature and 373 K.
Fig. 9. (a) Overview of dies and punch used for hat bending. (b) Springback of CFRP
sheet after two-dimensional hat bending. (c) Three-dimensional geometry of
product obtained by hat bending of 0.5 mm multilayered CFRP sheet.
J. Yanagimoto, K. Ikeuchi / CIRP Annals - Manufacturing Technology 61 (2012) 247250 250