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Advanced Composite Materials
Chapter 7

Composite Lab Safety

Eye protec=on

Protect from chemical splashes

! Protect from dust generated by cuAng or sanding

Respiratory Protec=on (mask)

Protect from dust generated by cuAng or sanding
! Use vacuum when using power tools

Skin protec=on
Use gloves and protec=ve clothing
! Wash hands aIer handling material

AircraI Control Surfaces

Vertical Stabilizer




AircraI Axes

Lateral Axis

AircraI Axes

Also called the pitch axis

Longitudinal Axis

Also called the roll axis

Ver=cal Axis

Also called the yaw axis

AircraI Structures

A true monocoque structure has bulkheads and formers to give the structure its shape, but all of the ight loads are
carried in the thin sheet metal skin.

AircraI Structures

A semimonocoque structure carries the ight loads in its outer skin, but this
thin skin is backed up with stringers that extend across the formers.

AircraI Structures

The reinforced shell is the most generally used type of construc=on for modern all-metal aircraI.


Compression & Tension

Compression & Tension


Diamond Construc=on

Composite Structures


Complex shapes
! Labor savings
! Moistures resistant
! Weight?


Complex repairs
The method of repair will vary from aircraI to aircraI

Separa=on of layers
Electric shielding layer can be an issue

Corrosion when ma=ng with metal (carbon ber)

! Sun and heat deteriora=on

Composite Structures


Fiber/reinforcing material
The real strength

Matrix (glue)

Recipe or formula:

Orienta=on & weave

Curing process

Fiber Deni=ons

Fiber - reinforcing material


Main strength runs along the length of the ber

Roving a group of ber laments

Tape unidirec=onal (one direc=onal) mat of
Fabric bidirec=onal (two direc=onal) mat of

Warp longitudinal length wise

Usually the main direc=on of strength

Fill (also called weI) transverse across the length

! Bias - 45 to warp

Tape and Fabric

Warp and WeI

Unidirec=onal Tape

Bidirec=onal Fabric

Fabric Layout

Warp Clock



Thin bers drawn from molten glass

! Shiny white
! E-glass

Low cost

High tensile strength and s=ness

Aramid ber
! High tensile strength and exible
! Yellow

Reinforcing Material

Graphite/Carbon Fiber - Video

Light and s=
! Used to add rigidity to structures
! Electrically conduc=ve

Caused corrosion when in contact with metals


Titanium or CRES fasteners

Causes issues for radio equipment

Very expensive
! Black

Lightning Protec=on Fibers (layer)


Nickel-coated graphite, metal mesh, aluminized

berglass or conduc=ve paint

Reinforcing Material

Fiber Orienta=on

Greatest strength and s=ness parallel to ber

! Random ber orienta=on or mats usually not used in
! How a fabric is woven determines the strength of the

Also determines the direc=on of the strength


Fiber layers are placed in dierent direc=ons to

improve strength
A warp clock (compass) is used to determine the direc=on

FAA say the strongest in the warp direc=on

Matrix Materials

Only job is to link the bers
Minimize the amount to reduce weight

FAA says 60:40 ber to resin ra=o

Mix only what is needed

Pot life - The length of =me a resin will remain
workable aIer the catalyst has been added
! Too much matrix will cause thermal runaway

Follow direc=ons
Only way to test is to make a test piece


Matrix Materials

Two part

MEKP - Methyl Ethel Ketone Peroxide

Used at ra=os of greater than 100:1

Can be thinned
! Easy to color
! Surface must be sealed before it will fully cure

Mold surface, wax addi=ve or PVA (polyvinyl alcohol)

Not as strong as epoxy

! Cheaper than epoxy

Matrix Materials


Two part

Use in ra=os closer to 1:1 or 2:1

Ra=o must be exact

! No thinning
! May require heat to cure
! Follow instruc=ons!

Matrix Materials

Prepreg fabric that is preimpregnated with

Speeds up manufacturing process
! Raw material is refrigerated and has very limited life
! Cured with heat and pressure

Large autoclaves are used to cure parts

Compression & Tension

Compression & Tension

Core Material

The outer skins of a structure carries most of the

Adding distance between the outer skins can
strengthen a structure without adding weight
The inner por=on of structure transfers load to
the outer skin
Core material is used to transfer loads to the
outer skins
Core material adds distance between outer skins
Core material is lighter than the composite
material high strength to weight ra=o


Core Material

The grain must be perpendicular to the outer skins


Styrofoam (polystyrene)
Cut with hot wire
Can not be used with polyester resin

Fuel proof
Cant be cut with hot wire
Can be used with epoxy or polyester resin


Core Material

Aluminum, paper, berglass, stainless steel, and

Nomex (aramid)
! Very high strength to weight ra=o
! If repairing aluminum core, prime the repair with a
corrosion inhibitor and seal from the atmosphere
! If nonsymmetrical palern, the repair must replicate
the original orienta=on

Honeycomb core material has strength parallel to the

ribbon direc=on

Line-up in ribbon direc=on when repairing

Ribbon Direc=on

Filler Material

Thickens matrix
Microspheres or micro-balloons
Tiny hollow glass balls
! Very light

Reduces the density of a matrix mix

Improves strength to weight ra=o
Adds some exibility

Reduces stress risers/concentra=on

Chopped berglass or ox (colon)


Adds strength

Cab-o-sil - silicon dioxide

Manufacturing Methods

Wet Lay-Up/Hand Lay-Up Process

Usual moldless
! Appling reinforcement material and matrix by hand

Matched Dies

Pairs of matched dies

Vacuum Bag
A vacuum bag is used to create a vacuum around a
! Atmospheric pressure forces wet structures into
! Vacuum assists in removing excess matrix

Manufacturing Methods

Autoclave High pressure and heat chamber


Used to cure matrix

Filament Winding Individual bers are wound

to an exact palern to provide the ul=mate in
ber orienta=on

Used for helicopter and propeller blades

Matched Dies

Heated matched dies are used for making a large number of iden=cal parts.

Vacuum Bag

A vacuum bag may be used to apply the pressure to a composite lay-up to ensure that it takes the shape of the female die
and to ensure that all of the individual bers are completely encapsulated.

Filament Winding

When the maximum strength is required, the part may be lament-wound and cured in an autoclave.



! Delamina=on Separa=on of composite layers
! Matrix void detec=on Usually aIer repairs or
! Trapped water

Indica=on of structural failure



Coin Tap tapping the edge of a coin on the

Listen for dull thuds, indicates a problem
Indicates there is a problem but cant measure the

Acous=c emission Use sound to vibrate a structure

and listen for bad noises
Will not detect entrapped water



Ultrasonic inspec=on
! Radiographic (X-ray)
! Backligh=ng

Remove paint, shine a strong light on one side and inspect


Follow the manufacturers instruc=ons


General purpose berglass and matrix cant replicate

the advanced methods used by the manufactures

Non-structural repair
e.g. cracked wheel pants
! Stop drill the crack
! Apply the repair to the inside

Roughen up the surface by sanding

De-grease with MEK

Test rst

Glue on a berglass patch


If the core is damaged, remove and replace

Typical dimensions for a room-temperature repair to the face plies of a honeycomb core composite panel.


Typical lay-up for vacuum-bagging of a room-temperature cured repair.


When repairing puncture-type damage of a

metal faced laminated honeycomb panel, the
edges of the doubler should be tapered to 100
=mes the thickness of the metal
Supercial scars, scratches, surface abrasion, or
rain erosion on berglass laminates can
generally be repaired by applying one or more
coats of suitable resin (room-temperature
catalyzed) to the surface


A poled compound repair on honeycomb can

usually be made on damages less than 1 inch in
One method of reducing the amount of warpage
is to use short strips of berglass in the bonded
Dont use any cuAng oil
Fiberglass laminate damage not exceeding the
rst layer or ply can be repaired by lling with a
puly consis=ng of a compa=ble resin and clean,
short glass bers


General types (categorized by how they react to


Set by heat once, reapplica=on of heat will destroy it

Can be soIened by heat, and when they are cooled they
will regain their original hardness and rigidity
Not damaged by repeated hea=ng and cooling, so long as
they are not overheated.


Can be soIen with heat and formed into a

specic shape

Pressure or vacuum formed

Modern type
! Plexiglas, Lucite and Perspex

Older type
! Yellows and gets brille with age


Type test: swab with acetone

Acetate will soIen

! Acrylic turns white but doesnt soIen

Type test: Apply a drop of zinc chloride

No eect on acrylic
! Acetate plas=c will turn milky


Transparent Plas=cs

Leave paper on
! Store ver=cally at a 10 =lt
! If stored horizontally, insure not dirt is trapped

Cut large and sand to size
! Dont overheat or melt

Drill bits

Transparent Plas=cs

A specially modied twist drill bit

Include angle of 150, the cuAng edge ground to a zero
rake angle
Purchase drill bit

Dont overheat or melt

! High speed with low pressure
! Drill on a piece of wood so drill will not break or chip
the edges of the hole
! Oversize hole

Coecient of expansion of plas=c is greater than

aluminum and steel

Temperature changes cause bigger changes to plas=c

Cemen=ng Soak Method

Soak method is the most common way of

cemen=ng acrylic plas=cs
Cement is a clear liquid that melts the plas=c

Acts more like welding than gluing

Cemen=ng Soak Method


Mask o the parts of the plas=c that are not to be

aected by the solvent.
! Soak the edge of one of the pieces in the solvent
un=l a soI cushion forms.
! Press the pieces together so the cushion will diuse
into the other piece and form a cushion on it.
! Allow the pressure to remain un=l the solvent has
evaporated from the cushions and they become
hard. Remove the excess material and dress the
repair to conform to the original material.

Low heat will help cure

Cemen=ng Soak Method

Cemen=ng acrylic plas=cs by the soak method.


Transparent Plas=cs

Rinse with water rst

Get rid of the grit may scratch the surface

Wash with mild soap and water

Or approved cleaner

Apply wax to protect

Transparent Plas=cs


Remove old plas=c, sealant and sand enclosure to

ensure not rough edges
! Sand new piece to size

New pieces are sent larger than required

Must be at least 1/8 gap to allow for expansion

Apply new sealant

! Install fasteners

Use spacers to prevent over =ghtening


Required if rivets are used

If screws are used without spacers, back o one turn aIer



Transparent Plas=cs

Network of hair line cracks caused by aging

! Can lead to bigger cracks


Must be replaced


Repair of a hole in a piece of transparent acrylic plas=c.


Repair of a crack in a piece of transparent acrylic plas=c.