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How did composites improve from the 1980's and 1990's to now?

asked 2016-05-10 20:11:05 -0500

Conrad_Marr gravatar image

How did composites improve from the 1980's and 1990's to now?

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answered 2016-05-25 18:18:55 -0500

Greg Kress gravatar image

The answer may change slightly between the different industries that use composites. So my answer is unique to aerospace. In aerospace, fibers may have slowly advanced since the 70's with improvements in carbon fiber production, but the biggest advancement from the 1980-90's until now have been in toughened epoxy. The use of advanced composites in 80's and prior was restricted to 1800 lbs or so on B737's, 3000 lbs on B757, and 3600 lbs on B767, but the B777 made a huge jump to 22,500 lbs of carbon fiber all because of toughened epoxy. Non-toughened epoxy is very brittle, resulting in structures that have low damage tolerance. The toughened epoxy developed in the 1980's and beyond have now resulted in composite structures with very high damage tolerance, where the B787 and A350 are now nearly 90% carbon fiber.

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B787 refers to the Boeing model 787 commercial airliner A350 refers to the Airbus model 350 commercial airliner

Rob Mueller gravatar imageRob Mueller ( 2016-05-28 17:17:39 -0500 )edit

The traditional method of toughening a composite is to induce a degree of "ductility" within the matrix phase by the addition of thermoplastic oligomers. The thermoplastic is observed to reduce stress concentration at the crack tip and promote crack branching.

Rob Mueller gravatar imageRob Mueller ( 2016-05-29 18:46:23 -0500 )edit

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Asked: 2016-05-10 20:11:05 -0500

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Last updated: May 25 '16