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CHAPTER 4

GFRP PANEL FABRICATION

4.1

Overview

This chapter will focus in detail on fabrication process of a quality


specimen in order to meet the requirement of the impact testing. A quality
curing process of the GFRP plays essential role to produce a quality test
specimen. It require good skill from the user and high precision tools. The
standard methodology used in this process is reviewed accordingly to
ASTM D7136/D 7136M. Any parameters that affect the production of test
specimen during fabrication process such as composition of matrix and
reinforcements, amount of hardener and resin, and contaminations must
be taken cautiously. Thus, a full attention must be given throughout this
process from initial step until finalizing step to assure the accuracy of
impact characterization.

4.2

Glass Fibre Reinforcement Polymer Composite Material

In this study, a specific matrix and reinforcement have been used. In this
case, a unidirectional E-glass fibre has been used as a reinforcement to a

polymer matrix. The strength of the composite is majorly depend on the


fibre used although the apparent

fibre strength is affected by the matrix. Table 4.1 and 4.2 show some
mechanical properties of the E-glass fibre.
Table 4.1 Dry Properties
Tensile Strength

2300 MPa

Tensile Modulus

72 GPa

Ultimate Elongation

4.0 %

Poissons Ration

0.22

Density

2600 kg/m3

Table 4.2 Cured Properties


Tensile Strength

480 MPa

Tensile Modulus

24 GPa

Ultimate Elongation

2.0 %

Thickness per Layer

1.3 mm

A matrix used in this study is SHCP 2719-CM which a polymer type of


matrix. The characteristic of matrix must be suitable to the fibre based and
its applications. One of the characteristic of this particular matrix is clear
and transparent. Table 4.3 shows the characteristic of SHCP 2719-CM
polyster resin. Performance of SHCP 2719-CM is the best when it is
completely cured. To do so, a proper mixture of resin and curing agent
(hardener) must be perform at room temperature for a sufficient period of
time. In this study, the curing agent used is butanox M-50. 0.63% of
butanox M-50 is used since it is the optimum percentage to lay up all 7
layers of glass fibre before the mixture start to cure.

Table 4.3 SHCP 2719-CM Specifications


Appearance
Viscosity at 30C
Gel Time at 30C
Cure Time at 30C
Peak Exothermic Temperature
Stability in the Dark below

Clear
3 5 poise
4 7 minutes
15 25 minutes
110 120 C
6 months

25C

4.3

Specimen Geometry

The behavior of impact obtained by conduct a drop weight impact method


can provide guidance to the anticipated damage resistance and capability
of composite structures. However, the damage resistance of the structure
is highly influenced by several factors including specimen geometry.
According to ASTM D7136/D7136M, the geometry of the sample is 150 mm
length and 100 mm width. Dimensional tolerances are linear 0.25 mm.
Figure 4.1 shows the geometry of the specimen according to ASTM
D7136/D7136M.

All dimension in
mm

Figure 4.1 Drop-Weight Impact Test Specimen


Geometry

4.4

Specimen Fabrication

A specific process of has been carried out in order to fabricate GFRP.


Process such as fiberglass cutting process, mould preparation process, and
lamination process have been thoroughly developed. After lamination
process, the system is left untouched for 24 to 48 hours for curing process
at the outside surface of the GFRP panel. After that, the panel is removed
from the mould and left untouched at room temperature for approximately
1 week for the panel to completely cured. In order to achieve desire
dimension of the laminate, the panel is then processed by cutting
machine. The detail flow of the process is shown in Figure 4.2.

Hand Lay Up Process

Pour the mixture of resin and


hardener on prepared mould base

Spread the mixture equivalently

Pour 1st layer of fiberglass sheet

Repeat the process until the 7th fiberglass sheet


Place the pressure plate on the
centre of the mould base

Curing Process (Takes about 2


weeks
Cutting Process

Figure 4.2 Hand Lay-up Process Flow

In this study, a specific types of ply orientation have been set up. Each
type of orientation consist of 7 layers of raw glass fibre. 5 types of stack
sequence have been developed in this experiment. Figure 4.3 shows the
type stack sequence of ply orientation used in this experiment.

Type 1

Type 4

Type 2

Type 3

Type 5

Figure 4.3 Type stack sequence of ply orientation.

4.4.1 Unidirectional Glass Fibre Fabric Preparation


To achieve the objective of this research, the raw fiberglass has been
cutting with specific orientations which are 00 , 900, 300, 450, 600 and 1350. A
transparent template is printed according to the orientation to assist the
cutting process of the raw fiberglass. In this process, the fiberglass sheet
initially kept in straight position. By using the template, it is easy to
identify and make sure the fiberglass sheet is in a straight position. The
length and width of the template are 164 mm and 114 mm respectively.
This template has its own dimension accordance to sample in the standard
test method with a few clearance. To avoid the fiberglass sheet from

crumple and ensure it to stay in a straight or desire position, a masking


tape is used to tape at the edge of the fiberglass sheet.
When the template with specific orientation is perfectly placed on
the fiberglass sheet, a marker is being used to mark along the templates
edges on the fiberglass sheet. A tape with thickness of 3mm is used to
tape along outside the line that were drawn before. The purpose of the
tape is to reduce the percentage of the fiberglass sheet to shrink during
the cutting event.
In the process of cutting the fiberglass sheet, carefully the fiberglass
sheet is cut with scissor on the outside of the tape line. Since the tape
used have a 3mm thickness, a particular fiberglass sheet that have been
cut will have addition of 6mm on both width and length. The final
dimension of the fiberglass that have been cut is 120mm in width and
170mm in length. All the fiberglass sheets that have been thoroughly cut
is being grouped accordance to its orientation. Figure 4.4 (a) and Figure
4.4 (b) show a specific fiberglass sheet and grouped fiberglass sheet
accordance with orientation respectively.

(a)

(b)

Figure 4.4 Unidirectional glass fiber sheets.

4.4.2 Mould Preparation


Mould is a place to do the lamination of a fiberglass. Thus, the mould must
be prepared before the lamination process takes place. The designation of
the mould must be prior to the sample dimension accordance to standard
test method. The mould is basically made up of three primary components
including mould base, frame and pressure plate. The face of the mould
base and pressure plate are made up from tiles. It is because tiles has
smooth and flat surface. First of all, the inner surface of the frame that
face and surrounding surface of the pressure plate are being taped by
using vinyl tape. The purpose of doing this is to avoid the mixture of resin
and hardener from cured at mentioned surface. It will be easier to remove
the tape instead of the cured mixture formed in these surface.
On the tile of mould base, there are gap or holes at every corner.
During the lamination event, there is possibility the resin will leak through
these holes. To avoid such thing from happening, a clay is very helpful to
covering the holes and the gap. The amount of the clay must be sufficient
so that there will not cause any disturbance in the mixture for lamination
process later.
The oil from the clay will cause the dirt to stick on the surface of the
tiles. Thus, a wax or grease is applied to both of the tiles to prevent the
dirt from sticking on the surface of the tiles by using sponge. The wax or
grease need to be applied at least three times. But before apply the wax or

grease for the second time, it need to be dry first. The duration for this
process is take about 3 minutes. After the third time wax or grease is
applied and dry, clean the surface with soft tissue. The cleanliness of the
surface can be determined by observe how shining the surfaces are. The
purpose of this action is when the lamination process is complete and the
sample is completely dry, the excess resin will not stick onto the surface of
the tiles so the sample can be easily taken out without damaging the
structure. Also, by applying this step, it remove most of the contaminants
from surface and ensure the products structure will not get affected.
Figure 4.5 and Figure 4.6 shows the schematic diagram of the mould.

Figure 4.5 Exploded view of the mould.

Figure 4.6 Schematic diagram of the assembled mould.


4.4.3 Lamination of Fiberglass Process
Fiberglass sheet laminating is a process that taking a several thin
fiberglass sheet and laminating those with another material. The purpose
of laminating process is to provide strength and support to a composite
material. This process can be broken down into two steps including
preparation of the ratio between resin and curing agent and the lamination
process.
A type of resin used in this project is SHCP 2719-CM and the curing
agent or hardener is Butanox M-50. The amount of the resin and the curing
agent is 167g and 1.1ml respectively. But before measure the resin in a
cup, a calibration on the electronic weight balance machine need to be
done. First, an electronic weight balance machine is turned on and set to
gram unit. Next, a cup is put on the machine and specific mass shown on
the screen. To get accurate reading before the resin is pour, the weight
balance machine is set to zero. Next, 1.1 ml of butanox m-50 is poured into
the cup by using a syringe. The amount of hardener is theoretically 0.63%

of the amount of resin. In this process, the desirable amount of hardener


shall be 1.05 ml. Since the sensitivity of syringe is up to 0.1 ml, the
experimental amount of curing agent taken is 1.1 ml with 0.5 ml tolerance.
Thus, the experimental curing agent percentage is approximately 0.66%.
In lamination process, a seven layers of fiberglass that have been
cut is chosen according to a desire orientation. For example +1350 /+900 /
+450 /0 /-450 /-900 / -1350. The mixture of resin and hardener is poured into
the mould base. Each cup at a time. The mixture is spread equally on the
surface of the tile of the mould base. Then, the first layer of fiberglass is
placed on the surface of the tile. One corner is set as a reference to
achieved consistent arrangement between all the fiberglass layers. The
layer is flattened by using scrapper to get better a structure. The same
process is done for the next layer until the seventh layer. The second cup
of the mixture between resin and hardener is poured at a proper time.
After all the seven layers have been perfectly placed, the pressure
plate is carefully placed on the fiberglass layers at the centre of the mould
base. The length and width of the pressure plate is 170mm and 118mm
respectively. On top of the pressure plate with specific weight of 849 gram,
a rock with 2461 gram is placed. This weight, 3.31kg in total, is sufficient
with the amount of the mixture between resin and hardener to achieve the
desired thickness. Figure 4.7 and Figure 4.8 illustrate a diagram of
lamination process. The pressure applied by pressure plate can be
determined by using pressure formula.

P=

W m. g N
=
[ ]
A
A m2

(4.1)

Figure 4.7 Diagram of lamination process.

Figure 4.8 Cross-section view of lamination process.

4.4.1 GFRP Panel Cutting Process


After the panel is produced, a physical assessment which will be discussed
in later topic will be conducted to inspect the physical condition of the
panel whether it can be used for testing or otherwise. Once the panel is

confirmed to be in a good condition, the cutting process of GFRP panel is


proceed. This process is performed by using a cutting machine and the
panel is being cut prior to ASTM D 7136/D7136M standard dimension.
Figure 4.9 shows the GFRP panel cutting process.

4.5

Physical Assessment

After all the processes have been done, there are several inspections that
must be done in order to produce a well fabricated specimen. The most
essential physical criteria that must be evaluate is the form of any
delamination occurred. The internal delamination will cause the panel to
have a different and weaker structure since it is already experienced a
type of damage.
Next, the formation of bubbles on GFRP panel must be inspect and
examine. The formation of bubbles is the result of trapped air inside the
panel due to several factors such as time consumed in lamination process,
pressure plate handling technique in lamination process and the amount of
pressure applied by pressure plate is not convenient. Other than that,
there is small probability for the glass fibre fabric to be misaligned due to
poor lamination technique.
Lastly, the last physical assessment is to evaluate the surface of the
GFRP panel which is being carried out by using surface gauge dial indicator
to avoid uneven thickness of the panel. The tolerance for this inspection is
0.5 mm. Figure 4.10 shows the type of failure on GFRP panel.

4.6

Safety During Fabrication Process

Safety is the main concern while conducting this process since it involved
extremely fine filaments of glass fibre. The proper attire of the
experimenter will ensure the fine filaments of glass fibre does not have
direct contact with the experimenter. The proper attire including head,
body and bottom part. Equipment such as respiratory mask, goggle, hand
glove, apron, and safety boots must be put on by the experimenter. The
type of resin used in this process is flammable and must be taken
cautiously such as keep away from any heat source. It will also cause
dizziness if the resin or hardener were inhaled too much during the mixing
for lamination process. Therefore, equipment such as respiratory mask is
essential to ensure the safety of the experimenter.
To avoid any contamination or injury to happen, workplace and tools
must be tidy and clean while conducting this process. The corresponding
machines and tools must be handle with care and checked to be in good
condition.