In situ study of deformation and fracture processes in 3D printed short fibre composites


Fibre reinforced composites (FRC) have  applications in automotive, aerospace, construction, and sports industries owing to their high strength to weight ratio, but  producing complex and customised parts by conventional manufacturing techniques is time consuming and costly. 3D printing is a novel production method, and materials with highly dispersed and highly oriented fibres can be printed for composites with controlled structures and mechanical properties.  In the design process, Image-based modelling can simulate the physical and mechanical  properties of 3D printed composites, but significant discrepancies remain between simulated and experimental properties due to a lack of knowledge of the interface properties that govern stress transfer.

There is a need to examine the correlation between the microstructure and the mechanical properties.  In particular, the anisotropic fracture behaviour of 3D-printed composites is not fully understood but might be used to enhance toughness in nature-inspired or biomimetic design of microstructures.

This project aims at comprehensive understanding of the deformation and fracture processes in 3D printed short fibre composites, from interfacial damage through to component failure.

The project is in collaboration with researchers in Korea, who will print the materials with a range of fibres, matrices and structures. The research in Oxford  build on recent novel studies that employed in situ high resolution X-ray tomography, digital volume correlation and synchrotron X-ray diffraction to investigate strain partitioning and damage development in 3D printed short fibre/polymer matrix composites.


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Digital image correlation of a short fibre composite observed by radiography on the DIAD beamline during an in stu diffraction strain mapping experiment


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