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Fibre Volume Fraction and Laminate Thickness . How much fibre…?. How much reinforcement?. Weight fraction Used in manufacture. May refer to fibre or resin - 'GRP' manufacturers will specify a glass content of (e.g.) 25 wt%; a prepreg supplier might give a resin content of 34 wt%.

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how much reinforcement
How much reinforcement?

Weight fraction

Used in manufacture.

May refer to fibre or resin - 'GRP' manufacturers will specify a glass content of (e.g.) 25 wt%; a prepreg supplier might give a resin content of 34 wt%.

Volume fraction

Used in design to calculate composite properties. Almost always refers to fibre content.

weight fraction volume fraction conversion
Weight fraction  volume fraction conversion

For the special case of a two-component composite (eg fibre and matrix):

maximum fibre volume fraction
Maximum fibre volume fraction

Theoretically, a unidirectional fibre composite could have Vf≈ 90%. In practice, fibres cannot be perfectly aligned.

Maximum volume fraction depends both on the fibre form and method of manufacture - for a unidirectional fibre composite: Vf≈ 60-70%.

maximum fibre volume fraction7
Maximum fibre volume fraction

For other forms of reinforcement, maximum volume fraction also depends on the detailed arrangement of the fibres.

The following values are typical:

stitched ‘non-crimp’ 0.6

woven fabric 0.4 - 0.55 random (chopped strand mat) 0.15 - 0.25

how much fibre
How much fibre?

Commercial reinforcements are characterised by their areal weight (Aw). This is simply the weight (usually given in g) of 1 m2 of the reinforcement. Aw depends on many factors - fibre density, tow or bundle size, weave style, etc.

Aw may range from 50 g/m2 or less (for lightweight surfacing tissues), up to more than 2000 g/m2 for some heavyweight non-crimp fabrics.

laminate thickness
Laminate thickness

Two laminates, both containing 5 plies of reinforcement:

fibre

matrix

high matrix content

low fibre content

= thick laminate

low matrix content

high fibre content

= thin laminate

laminate thickness10
Laminate thickness

Fibre volume fraction is thus inversely proportional to laminate thickness.

If the fibre content and laminate thickness are defined, we can calculate the fibre volume fraction:

If the fibre content and volume fraction are defined, we can calculate the laminate thickness:

slide13

Example calculations1. What will be the thickness of a laminate consisting of 2 layers of 450 g/m2 chopped strand mat if a resin to glass ratio (by weight) of 2:1 is used?2. What fibre volume fraction is achieved if 3 layers of 800 g/m2 glass woven roving are compression-moulded to a thickness of 2 mm?

slide15
'Rules of Mixtures' are mathematical expressions which give some property of the composite in terms of the properties, quantity and arrangement of its constituents.

They may be based on a number of simplifying assumptions, and their use in design should tempered with extreme caution!

density
Density

For the special case of a fibre-reinforced matrix:

since Vf + Vm = 1

unidirectional ply longitudinal tensile modulus
Unidirectional ply - longitudinal tensile modulus

E1 = Ef Vf + Em ( 1-Vf )

Note the similarity to the rules of mixture expression for density.

In polymer composites, Ef >> Em, so

E1 Ef Vf

slide20
This rule of mixtures is a good fit to experimental data (source: Hull, Introduction to Composite Materials, CUP)
generalised rule of mixtures for tensile modulus
Generalised rule of mixtures for tensile modulus

E = hL ho Ef Vf + Em (1-Vf )

hL is a length correction factor. Typically, hL 1 for fibres longer than about 10 mm.

ho corrects for non-unidirectional reinforcement: