Designing PU Resins for Fibre Composite Applications

  • Zoalfokkar Al-Obad

Student thesis: Phd


Abstract This thesis focuses on designing thermoplastic composites with high mechanical properties and a low processing temperature. Thermoplastic composites, which are used in this work, are composed of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) matrices and plain woven E-glass fabrics (GFs). TPUs were synthesised with large quantities of hard segments (HS), including 70% and 90%wt HS. The GF-TPU composites manufactured in this study have a melting point of around 175oC. As such, 180oC represents the processing temperature, which was used to produce GF-TPU composites. The influences of HS content and annealing treatment at 80oC on the thermal, dynamic mechanical and mechanical properties of TPU samples and GF-TPU composites with 25% fibre volume fraction (Vf) have been investigated. The highest crystallinity, storage modulus, Tg, yield strength, tensile strength and tensile modulus of all the TPU samples are seen in the TPU/90 samples annealed for 4 days. The TPU/90 samples display higher tensile properties than the TPU/70 and polypropylene (PP) samples, while the PP samples show the greatest elongation at break point. Furthermore, the tensile properties of the TPU/70 and TPU/90 samples are much higher than those of commercial TPUs. As such, annealed GF-TPU/90 composites with 25% Vf present the greatest dynamic mechanical, flexural, and tensile properties. GF-TPU/90 composites with 25% Vf show higher flexural strength than GF-PP composites or GF-polyamide 6 (PA6) composites with the same Vf. The effects of fibre surface treatments on the mechanical properties of GF and GF-TPU/70 composites with 25% Vf have also been studied in this investigation. GF treated with burn-off treatment is found to exhibit the lowest tensile properties. The interfacial adhesion between GF treated by NaOH for 0.5hrs and a TPU/70 matrix is greater than between GF treated by acetone for 5hrs and a TPU/70 matrix. Silanised GF presents greater tensile properties than desized GF. Thus, enhanced interfacial adhesion and tensile, flexural, ILSS and GIC properties are observed in the silanised GF-TPU/70 composites than in the desized GF-TPU/70 composites. GF-TPU/70 composites based on GFs treated by NaOH for 0.5hrs then sized with 0.15%wt. aminosilane display the greatest interfacial adhesion, flexural properties, ILSS and GIC, damage tolerance and impact-damage resistance. Conversely, the lowest interfacial adhesion, GIC, damage tolerance and impact-damage resistance are seen in the GF-PP composites based on 25% Vf as-received GF. There is a significant increase in the tensile and flexural properties of GF-TPU/90 composites with increasing the Vf from 25% to 50%. Moreover, the flexural strength of GF-TPU/90 composites with 50% Vf is not only higher than that of GF-EP composites or GF-vinyl ester composites with normalised 50% Vf, but is also much higher than that of GF-PP composites with 50% Vf. Despite this result, GF-TPU/90 composites with 50% Vf show the lowest fracture toughness, impact-damage resistance and damage tolerance, which are improved by adding 25% and 50%wt. of TPU/70 to the TPU/90 matrix. GF-TPU/90 composites based on a modified matrix have higher GIC, GIIC, impact-damage resistance and damage tolerance than GF-TPU/90 composites based on an unmodified matrix. The GIC, GIIC, impact-damage resistance and damage tolerance of GF-TPU/90 composites based on a modified matrix increase with increasing the percentage of TPU/70. Hence, the highest GIC, GIIC, impact-damage resistance and damage tolerance are seen in the GF-TPU/90 composites based on a modified matrix with 50%wt. of TPU/70.
Date of Award1 Aug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorVenkata Potluri (Supervisor) & Alberto Saiani (Supervisor)


  • matrix toughening agents
  • fibre surface treatments
  • hard segment content
  • glass fibre thermoplastic composites
  • TPU
  • annealing treatment

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