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    Characterization of IM7 Graphite/Thermoplastic Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) for Spacecraft Structural Applications

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    Graphite composites fabricated from thermoplastic polyetheretherketone (PEEK) IM7 graphite prepreg tapes were evaluated for the development of lightweight, strength-critical, dimensional stable spacecraft components. The objective of this investigation was to summarize the mechanical and physical properties of IM7 graphite/PEEK to compare its properties to that of similar graphite/epoxy composites.

    A property database for thermoplastic composite materials was generated. Composite mechanical property characterization included 0° and 90° tensile and compressive, in-plane shear, and flexural properties. Physical property characterization included coefficient of thermal expansion, outgassing/condensable volatiles, and equilibrium moisture absorption at 71°C (160°F) and 95% relative humidity. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was used to investigate fiber/matrix distribution, fiber orientation, and fiber/resin interface adhesion. Results were compared with data on IM7 graphite/8551-7 epoxy laminates to assess the relative merits of the IM7 graphite/PEEK thermoplastic material system.

    In general, IM7 graphite/PEEK thermoplastic composites possess a combination of properties that appear to match the requirements for several spacecraft applications. In addition to having very respectable structural properties, IM7/PEEK laminates exhibited lower moisture uptake and lower outgassing than IM7/8551-7 epoxy laminates. The equilibrium moisture gain for the thermoplastic composites was 0 18% compared to 0 80% for the epoxy composite system. SEM analysis indicated that the thermoplastic PEEK composite laminates exhibited excellent fiber/matrix distribution and interfacial fiber/resin adhesion. The PEEK thermoplastic matrix composite, therefore, provides a superior replacement to conventional epoxy matrix composites for spacecraft applications.


    polyetheretherketone (PEEK), graphite fiber composites, unidirectional tape, mechanical properties, coefficient of thermal expansion, water absorption, coefficient of moisture expansion

    Author Information:

    Silverman, EM
    TRW Space & Technology Group, Redondo Beach, CA

    Wiacek, CR
    TRW Space & Technology Group, Redondo Beach, CA

    Griese, RA
    TRW Space & Technology Group, Redondo Beach, CA

    Committee/Subcommittee: D30.05

    DOI: 10.1520/STP20150S