Engineers iron out the wrinkles in producing strong and durable materials
Textile composites are known for their strength and durability. While wearing a crisply ironed, wrinkle-free shirt makes a good impression, researchers at UBC’s (University of British Columbia) Okanagan campus are working to solve the issue of wrinkling when it comes to making textile composites.
Abbas Milani, a Professor in UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering explained that a simple wrinkle in the manufacturing process can significantly alter the end product—sometimes diminishing its strength by 50 percent.
Wrinkling is one of the most common flaws in textile composites, which are widely used for prototypes, as well as mass production within prominent aerospace, energy, automotive and marine applications, Abbas Milani explained.
To iron out the problem, researchers at UBC’s Composite Research Network-Okanagan have investigated several de-wrinkling methods and have discovered that they can improve their effectiveness by pulling the materials in two directions simultaneously during the manufacturing process. They did this by creating a custom-made biaxial fixture — a clamp that stretches the textile taught and removes unwanted bumps and folds.
The challenge was to avoid unwanted fiber misalignment or fiber rupture while capturing the out-of-plane wrinkles.
“Manufacturers who use these types of composites are looking for more information about their mechanical behavior, especially under combined loading scenarios, “said graduate student Armin Rashidi.
The research included stretching the material and then using specialized image processing and 3D scanning to analyze the required forces and its impact on the wrinkling and de-wrinkling of the material.
As we continue to innovate in the area of composite textiles to include more polymer resin and fiber reinforcement options, this research will need to continue in order to provide the most up-to-date analysis for manufacturers in different application areas.
It is important for designers to be able to predict the right amount of force needed to diminish the wrinkles in the final product, explained Milani. To do this, his team of students has created a multi-step test to assess the magnitude of the required forces needed to smooth out wrinkles of different sizes that were formed at different shear angles of a comingled fiberglass-propylene plain weave fabric.