A study of the effect of strain rate and temperature on the characteristics of quasi-unidirectional natural fibre reinforced composites

Opukuro David-West, William Banks, Richard Pethrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The responses of quasi-unidirectional vegetable fibres (sisal and flax) – styrene polyester matrix composites under 6-J nominal strike energy at different sample temperatures and at higher impact energies of 9 and 12 J for samples at room temperature have been studied and indentation properties realized from static loading at different cross-head displacement speeds. The findings are explained in terms of the impact characteristics. At temperatures above ambient, there were changes in the impact characteristics. The drop impact tests were carried out on samples (70 × 70 × 5 mm3) at an ambient temperature of 18 °C and elevated temperatures of 40 °C, 60 °C, 80 °C, and 100 °C using an instrumented drop tester with a 12.1-mm diameter hemispheric tup and the load history and energy profile were obtained. The actual damage response depends on many intrinsic and extrinsic factors, including the thickness of the laminate, the exact stacking sequence, the shape and kinetic energy of the impactor, and the degree to which the laminate is supported against bending. The examination of the impact and post-impact characteristics at elevated temperatures revealed a plastic mode of failure and the performance was assessed in terms of contact time, post-impact displacement, and total energy. Composites are generally brittle in nature and respond elastically with little or no plastic deformation, but this is not the case for natural fibre – styrene polyester matrix composites, especially at high temperatures, as there exists some degree of plasticity seen in the after-impact state of the samples. Low energy impact (6 J) results in cracking of the matrix leading to reduction in the strength of the composite. However, higher energy impact strikes produce cracking of the matrix and splintering of the fibres. From the load–indentation curves, average power coefficients of 3.6 and 15.4 were obtained for sisal and flax composites, respectively, as against 1.5 for the special Hertz contact of two elastic bodies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-148
Number of pages17
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part L: Journal of Materials: Design and Applications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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