Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering

Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor

Eltahry Elghandour

Abstract

Present day composite sandwich panels provide incredible strength. Their largest problem, however, is early bonding failure between the core and the skin. This is due to the low bonding surface area of present cores like honeycomb. Corrugated structures could provide a remedy for this with their much larger bonding surface area. Corrugated structures have extreme mechanical properties deeming them particularly useful in aerospace and automotive applications. However, previous research has shown that the stiffness of carbon fiber causes debonding and drastic failure when used as both a core and a skin. Bio-composites have properties that could strengthen the corrugated sandwich panel against such debonding and increase the strength of the structure while making it cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

This thesis presents the optimum design, manufacturing, and testing of corrugated sandwich panel structures with integrated bio-composites under edgewise compression loading. To do this, optimum corrugation geometry was identified using theoretical analysis of the moment and bonding area of the shape. Control tests with carbon fiber and hemp were conducted. The bio-composite was integrated in both the core and the skin individually in corrugated sandwich panels. The cases tested were all-carbon fiber, hemp skin with carbon fiber core, carbon fiber skin with hemp core, and all-hemp. These corrugated structures were analyzed by conducting compression loading tests on varying lengths of single-ligament panels utilizing trapezoidal corrugation as the core and a flat plate as the skin. The lengths tested were 1, 2, 3, and 4 inches. As many samples as possible were manufactured out of limited material with heavier focus on creating the shorter samples. The goal of this testing was, first, to determine if hemp fibers were viable as a substitute for certain sections of the traditional composite structure, and second, to see if integrating hemp fibers would solve the problems of debonding seen in the all-carbon fiber samples seen in previous research. To determine mechanical property viability, the ultimate load and stiffness were investigated for each sample, as well as investigation of the failure modes seen in the test. Secondary goals were to see at what length buckling behavior became an issue and to see if this corrugated structure and all its failure modes could be simulated in finite element analysis.

At the 1-inch and 2-inch lengths where minimal buckling was encountered, the hemp core-carbon skin samples showed better results than both the all-carbon fiber and the all-hemp samples with a 4% and 6% increase in average ultimate load and a 11% and 47% increase in stiffness, respectively. From these results, it was concluded that hybrid bio-composite structures can have comparable mechanical properties to traditional composites and can solve bonding failure.

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