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Although polyimide based composites have been used for many years in a wide variety of elevated temperature applications, very little work has been done to examine the durability and damage behavior under more prototypical thermomechanical fatigue (TMF) loadings. Synergistic effects resulting from simultaneous temperature and load cycling can potentially lead to enhanced, if not unique, damage modes and contribute to a number of nonlinear deformation responses. The goal of this research was to examine the effects of a TMF loading spectrum, representative of a gas turbine engine compressor application, on a polyimide sheet molding compound (SMC). High performance SMCs present alternatives to prepreg forms with great potential for low cost component production through less labor intensive, more easily automated manufacturing. To examine the issues involved with TMF, a detailed experimental investigation was conducted to characterize the durability of a T650-35/PMR-15 SMC subjected to TMF mission cycle loadings. Fatigue damage progression was tracked through macroscopic deformation and elastic stiffness. Additional properties, such as the glass transition temperature (Tg) and dynamic mechanical properties were examined. The fiber distribution orientation was also characterized through a detailed quantitative image analysis. Damage tolerance was quantified on the basis of residual static tensile properties after a prescribed number of TMF missions. Detailed micro-structural examinations were conducted using optical and scanning electron microscopy to characterize the local damage. The imposed baseline TMF missions had only a modest impact on inducing fatigue damage with no statistically significant degradation occurring in the measured macroscopic properties. Micro-structural damage was, however, observed subsequent to 100 h of TMF cycling which consisted primarily of fiber debonding and transverse cracking local to predominantly transverse fiber bundles. The TMF loadings did introduce creep related effects (strain accumulation) which led to rupture in some of the more aggressive stress scenarios examined. In some cases, this creep behavior occurred at temperatures in excess of 150°C below commonly cited values for Tg. Thermomechanical exploratory creep tests revealed that the SMC was subject to time dependent deformation at stress/temperature thresholds of 150 MPa/230°C and 170 MPa/180°C.
thermomechanical fatigue, damage tolerance, sheet molding compound, PMR-15, creep, residual properties, micro-structural damage, fiber distribution, graphite fiber, T650-35, polymer matrix composites
Senior Research Engineer, Ohio Aerospace Institute/NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH
Research Chemist, NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH
Engineer, ProTech Lab Corporation, Cincinnati, OH