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Matrix free fiber reinforced polymeric composites via high -temperature high -pressure sintering

Tao Xu, University of Massachusetts Amherst


A novel manufacturing process called high-temperature high-pressure sintering was studied and explored. Solid fiber reinforced composites are produced by consolidating and compacting layers of polymeric fabrics near their melting temperature under high pressure. There is no need to use an additional matrix as a bonding material. Partial melting and recrystallization of the fibers effectively fuse the material together. The product is called a “matrix free” fiber reinforced composite and essentially a one-polymer composite in which the fiber and the matrix have the same chemical composition. Since the matrix is eliminated in the process, it is possible to achieve a high fiber volume fraction and light weight composite. Interfacial adhesion between fibers and matrix is very good due to the molecular continuity throughout the system and the material is thermally shapeable. Plain woven Spectra ® cloth made of Spectra® fiber was used to comprehensively study the process. The intrinsic properties of the material demonstrate that matrix free Spectra® fiber reinforced composites have the potential to make ballistic shields such as body armor and helmets. The properties and structure of the original fiber and the cloth were carefully examined. Optimization of the processing conditions started with the probing of sintering temperatures by Differential Scanning Calorimetry. Coupled with the information from structural, morphological and mechanical investigations on the samples sintered at different processing conditions, the optimal processing windows were determined to ensure that the outstanding original properties of the fibers translate into high ballistic performance of the composites. Matrix free Spectra® composites exhibit excellent ballistic resistance in the V50 tests conducted by the US Army. In the research, process-structure-property relationship is established and correlations between various properties and structures are understood. Thorough knowledge is obtained for this creative process regarding the procedures, outcomes, advantages and capabilities. Two other ultra high molecular weight polyethylene fiber containing materials, Dyneema Fraglight® nonwoven felt and Spectra Shield® Plus PCR prepreg, were also carefully studied using the process of high-temperature high-pressure sintering. Their structures, morphologies and thermo-mechanical properties were compared with consolidated Spectra® cloth. The results clearly demonstrate that Spectra® cloth is the best candidate for making ballistic protective shields.

Subject Area

Polymers|Materials science|Plastics

Recommended Citation

Xu, Tao, "Matrix free fiber reinforced polymeric composites via high -temperature high -pressure sintering" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3136797.