February 15, 2024
Conference Paper

Low-Velocity Impact Performances of Healed Polymer Fiber Reinforced Plastics


Extending the lifecycle of traditional carbon or glass fiber-reinforced plastics is a complicated problem. The lack of sustainability limits the applications of the traditional composite materials in the vehicle industries where recycling and repurposing are critical issues. Alternatives for the low-stressed structural components are polymer fiber-reinforced plastics (PFRPs). In PFRPs, both the fibers and matrix are composed of thermoplastic polymers (e.g. polypropylene or polyethylene). They are lightweight, easy to manufacture, and cost-effective. Additionally, recycling and repurposing thermoplastic polymers are well understood. Therefore, the PFRPs have strong advantages compared to the traditional fiber-reinforced composites in low-stressed structural applications. In this study, we investigated the low-velocity impact (LVI) performances of the PFRPs and compared them with carbon fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRPs). A semi-spherical impactor was dropped to flat, square panels, and the absorbed impact energy was measured. The damage mechanisms were examined using a Xray ┬ÁCT scan. The PFRPs outperformed the CFRPs in terms of perforation energy normalized by plate thickness and density. After the perforation, we healed the fractured plates by leveraging the recyclability of the thermoplastic polymers. The healing process of the panels was identical to the initial panel manufacturing process. No additional materials were added during the healing process. The healed PFRP panels were impacted again and substantially recovered energy absorption capability. We also conducted the repeated-impact test with several different impact energies. Unlike the CFRPs where the impact peak load decreased as the impacts repeated, the PFRPs showed an increasing trend. Such a unique mechanism was due to the strain-hardening behavior of the polymer fibers and matrix. As a result, the repeated-impact life of the PFRPs was significantly enhanced. These results are particularly interesting in the automotive or aerospace industries where repeated LVI is frequently observed.

Published: February 15, 2024


Ko S., Y. Qiao, J.L. Ramos, W. Kuang, A.C. Denny, T.J. Roosendaal, and K.L. Simmons. 2023. Low-Velocity Impact Performances of Healed Polymer Fiber Reinforced Plastics. In Proceedings of the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE 2023), April 17-20, 2023, Seattle, WA. Diamond Bar, California:SAMPE North America. PNNL-SA-181114. doi:10.33599/nasampe/s.23.0309

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