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The influence of surface morphology on the interfacial adhesion and fracture behavior of vacuum infused carbon fiber reinforced polymeric repairs

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The current work is focused on the adhesion characteristics of vacuum infused repair patches on variously pretreated composite surfaces, given that the impregnation resin acts both as a consolidation agent of the reinforcement as well as a very thin bonding medium on a composite substrate. Initially, the pretreated surfaces, on which the repair patches were infused, were characterized with a number of surface analysis techniques such as X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), laser profilometry, dynamic contact angle and surface energy analysis. Double cantilever beam (DCB) repairs were then considered as the macroscopic method of assessment by infusing layers of carbon woven fabric onto the surface pretreated composite laminates. The behavior of the asymmetric DCB configuration was also studied by finite element modeling, for cohesive crack growth within the bondline, using the virtual crack extension (VCE) method. DCB testing results showed that the fracture resistance curves obtained from the repairs were lower than the numerical resistance curves. This was attributed to the preferential crack trajectory at the receptive infusion resin/pretreated composite interface. Correlation of the experimental fracture energies with the surface property data, revealed an explicit relationship between the surface roughness and the interfacial adhesion of the repair patches during crack initiation and propagation. The strain energy release rates of the DCB repairs were increased with increased surface roughness without dramatic change of the failure mode, as verified by the post-failure examination of the fractured surfaces using scanning electron micrographs.

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