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The sand erosion characteristics of thermoset and thermoplastic composites are investigated. Glass, graphite, and Kevlar fibers in the forms of unidirectional tape, woven fabric, and chopped mat were impregnated with epoxy, bismaleimide, polyimide, polyphenylene sulfide, polyetheretherketone, and nylon matrices, respectively. Ten panel specimens of each type were fabricated and tested for evaluation. The testing facilities developed at Rohr Industries, Inc., include an air pump, a sand feeding pot, a test chamber, a blast nozzle, and a sand collector. Inside the test chamber, a control rod with a mounted specimen holder can be rotated and positioned at the desired angle. Both ductile and brittle erosion mechanisms were illustrated and characterized by using a scanning electron microscope (SEM).
The specimen weight change after erosion has been measured and converted to volume loss rate, which is more meaningful for comparing different materials and modifying structural geometric profile. The sand erosion of composites was evaluated at different testing conditions. The parameters considered in this study are particle velocity, impingement angle, total abrasive mass, sand material, and size. Aluminum oxide particles and garnet sand were used as major abrasives. Comparison has been made among composites and with metals (steel, aluminum, and titanium). The volume loss data of fiber composites are plotted versus the impingement angles at 30°, 45°, 60°, and 90°.
sand erosion, glass fiber composites, graphite fiber composites, Kevlar fiber composites, epoxy, polyimide, bismaleimide, polyphenylene sulfide, polyetheretherketone, nylon
Senior manufacturing research specialist, Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Co., Burbank, CA