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Investigation of environmental durability of carbon fiber/epoxy composites
Fiber reinforced polymer composites, that have increasing demand in many applications such as aircraft and automotive industry, are usually exposed to different environmental conditions which may be harmful to them. The investigation of their environmental durability is critical for those applications. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of temperature and moisture on durability of carbon fiber reinforced epoxy composites. For this purpose, 0/90° woven, plain unidirectional and non-crimp biaxial ±45 fabrics were used as reinforcement. The specimens were manufactured using vacuum resin infusion process to obtain relatively high fibre volume fraction ratios. The composites manufactured were exposed to cyclic aging conditions to simulate aircraft flight environment. Hygrothermal, high temperature and freezing conditions were used as in one cycle which was 12 hours long. Moisture absorption was determined by weighing the specimens at regular intervals as a function of aging cycles. Tensile and flexural tests were performed prior to aging and after 500, 1000 and 1500 hours aging. After the completion of aging cycles, the moisture content did not increase significantly due to presence of subzero and high temperatures in aging cycles. The mechanical test results revealed differences based on the fabric types used. It was found that the tensile strength and modulus values of woven composites increased after aging cycles as compared to those of unidirectional and biaxial composites. On the other hand, flexural properties decreased at the end of the aging cycles for the composites aged as test coupons.