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Ceramic-matrix Composite Materials and Their Bending Properties

Ceramic-matrix Composite Materials and Their Bending Properties



A composite is a material formed by combining a matrix and one or more reinforcement materials. The overall bending strength of a composite depends on the properties of the materials it is made up of. A ceramic is a hard material with strong compression properties, but this material is also very brittle. By mixing it glass or polymer fibers, it turns into a more ductile material.

For example, in artificial bone composites, the ceramic provides the required compressive strength while the polymer fibers add the tensile and flexural strength to it. By combining ceramic and polymer materials in different amounts, unique materials can be created tailored for a specific application.

This video will illustrate how to make three ceramic matrix composites with plaster of Paris and determine which preparation has the strongest bending properties. The flexural strength of these samples would measured using the three-point bending test.

Let us have a closer look at the three-point bending test. In this method a bar shaped sample is mounted lengthwise on two parallel pins. The mounting should be such that it allows the material to stretch as well as bend under an external force.

In this test, an external force is applied perpendicular to the sample in the middle. As a result, it undergoes compression force on the side where external load is applied and tensile force on the opposite side where it gets stretched. The combination of these two forces also creates an area of sheer stress along the midline.

These three forces together decide the bending or flexural strength of a given sample. With an increase in the external force, the amount of bending or deflection of a material also increases until the material fails. The flexural strain on a material can be calculated using the deflection, span length, and thickness of the sample. The flexural stress of the material can be calculated from the applied force, span length, width, and thickness of the sample.

The three-point bending test gives a flexural stress and strain curve of a material. The slope of a curve in the elastic region represents the flexural modulus of the sample and measures how much a given material can be flexed. The area under the stress-strain curve represents the amount of energy absorbed by a material before failure, hence, it is a measure of the toughness of the material.

Theoretically, the maximum flexural strength of a composite can be calculated with the rule of mixtures using the maximum flexural strength of its matrix and reinforcement materials under volume fractions.

Now that you understand how the three-point bending method works and how to measure the bending properties of the material, let's make three ceramic based composites and find out which one has the highest bending strength.

First let's make three samples of ceramic matrix composites. To begin, get a blue rubber mold which can make three bar-shaped samples. We will make your first sample from the plain plaster. To begin with, weigh 40 grams of dry plaster powder into a plastic cup then slowly add 20 milliliters of deionized water and stir it with a stick until a smooth consistency is achieved. Proceed immediately to the next step because the plaster starts to harden in approximately five minutes. Next, pour the resulting slurry in one of the compartments of the mold. Fill the mold completely and smooth it over with the stick. Finally, throw away the cup and any excess plaster. Please keep the stick for future use.

You will make your second composite sample using the plaster powder and chopped glass fibers. To do that, first weigh four grams of chopped glass fibers into a plastic cup. Next, weigh 40 grams of plaster powder into the same cup then slowly add 20 milliliters of deionized water. Keep stirring the slurry with the stick until the fibers are thoroughly mixed in and a smooth consistency is achieved. Pour the slurry into the second mold as described for sample one.

You will make the last composite sample using the plain plaster powder and the fiber glass tape. To do that, first cut two strips of fiber glass tape about five inches long and weigh them. Second, make a slurry with a plain plaster powder as you did for the first sample.

Next, pour about 1/3 of the plaster into the mold. Place one strip of fiber glass tape on top of the plaster and press down with a stick. Always make sure that the plaster thoroughly wets the fiber glass then pour about 1/2 of the remaining plaster on top of the fiber glass tape.

Next, place the second strip of tape on top of the plaster and press it down with a stick. Pour the rest of the plaster on top of the second strip and press it down with the stick.

Measure the average length, width, and height of each bar. Measure the span length of the sample on three-point test fixture using calibrated calibers. Set the UTM instrument to zero and initiate added displacement speed of five millimeters per minute.

For the plain plaster and chopped glass fiber samples, run the test until the samples fail. For the fiber glass tape composite, run the test until the deflection is six millimeters. Use the lab view program on your computer to collect the data from each test into a text file.

UTM generates a single column text file for both force and deflection. The lab view interface sorts the corresponding readings into two different arrays. Now, convert the raw data into force and deflection using the numbers generated by the UTM and load cell maximum value of 1,000.

Next, using the force and deflection values, calculate the flexural stress and strain. Plot the flexural strain-stress curve of the three samples: plaster, chopped glass composite, and fiber tape composite. Find the maximum flexural strength from the curve. Also find the flexural strain at the maximum strength. Next, calculate the flexural modulus and the total area under the curve for each sample.

Finally, compare the results of the three samples. This experiment demonstrates that the desired strength of a sample can be achieved by using different reinforcement materials. Examining the sample data, we see that fiber glass tape provides the greatest additional strength. It also covers the maximum area under the curve, hence is the toughest among the three. Fiber length and orientation drastically affect the properties of composite samples.

For example, the maximum reinforcement can only be achieved when the fiber glass tape is set parallel to the surfaces of the specimen. This spatial orientation allows the fiber glass tape to withstand additional forces as the plaster matrix fails. Longer pieces would allow for maximum traction under the test as there is more plaster surrounding the fiber glass reinforcement.

Ceramic matrix composites are used in a wide range of fields: space science, bioengineering, and automotive breaking systems. Ceramic matrix composites are also used in synthesizing our artificial bones. Our bones inherently have a strong composite structure thus having the ability to replace and replicate a bone due to disease or traumatic injury is important component of medical science.

Ceramic composites also provide exceptional automotive breaking systems because of their higher strength, higher thermal stability, and lower wear. For these reasons they are used in sports cars.

You've just watched Jove's Introduction to Ceramic Matrix Composite Materials and Their Bending Properties. You should now understand how to make a composite material, test its bending properties using the three-point bending test, and compare it with the other composites.

Thanks for watching.

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