Dynamic tensile strength of organic fiber-reinforced epoxy micro-composites Academic Article uri icon


  • Outer surfaces of spacecraft in orbit are exposed to hypervelocity impact originating from micro-meteoroids and space debris. The structural composite materials are integral parts of the spacecraft envelope. We studied the impact response of structural micro-composites containing Kevlar 29, spectra 1000 and oxygen RF (Radio Frequency) plasma surface-treated spectra 1000 fibers of 27-μm diameter, embedded in 100-μm epoxy resin films, in a series of planar impact experiments. The composites were loaded by 50-μm aluminum and polycarbonate impactors having velocities ranging from 400 to 550 m/s. The velocity of the free surface of the composite samples was continuously monitored by VISAR (Velocity Interferometer System for Any Reflector). The dynamic tensile (spall) strength of the micro-composites was calculated on the basis of the recorded free surface velocity profiles. Correlations were found between the spall strength and the separately measured: (i) fiber/matrix interfacial adhesion, (ii) tensile strengths of the fibers, of the matrix and of the micro-composites, and (iii) internal residual stresses. The spall strength of surface-treated spectra fibers micro-composites was found to be lower than that of both pristine spectra fibers micro-composites, and the pure epoxy film. The epoxy film reinforced by Kevlar fibers was found to have the highest spall strength.

publication date

  • January 1, 2009