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Tribological behavior of Fiber Reinforced Polymer Composites

Mr. Sudarshan Rao K a , Dr. Y S Varadarajan b & Dr. N Rajendra c


a. Research scholor, Department of Industrial & Production Engineering, NIE, Mysore.
Mobile: 9448252890. Email: srk9060@yahoo.co.in.
b. Professor & Head, Department of Industrial & Production Engineering, NIE, Mysore.
c. Professor, Department of Industrial & Production Engineering, NIE, Mysore.
Abstract:
A Composite is a combination of two
or more materials that has properties which the
component materials do not have by themselves and the
properties of the resultant material is superior to the
properties of the individual material which has made up
the composite. Fiber Reinforced Polymer composites
are the result of embedding high strength, high stiffness
fibers of one material in a surrounding matrix of thermo
set or thermo plastic polymers. Fibers are the principal
load carrying members where in the matrix keep them
in position. The pioneering works on the friction and
wear properties of polymer composites have identified
several tribological factors affecting the tribology of
polymer composites have attempted to clarify the
governing mechanism of friction and wear. The study
of wear has two major purposes: to predict wear and to
reduce wear.
Keywords: Composites, Tribology, friction, wear.
Introduction:
Fiber Reinforced Polymer composites are
increasingly being used for wear sensitive applications
owing to their excellent specific strength, specific
stiffness, light weight, corrosion resistance & self
lubricity, extreme flexibility in material properties
through the control of fibers, matrix composition and
fiber lay-up.
Because of the wear, mechanical properties of
the polymers like low stiffness, the application have
been limited to low load carrying parts. There is a
strong driving force for using composites as low friction
and low wear material. The use of Fiber Reinforced
Polymer Composites in sliding applications, such as
bearings & seals, has grown significantly due to the
composites self lubricating characteristics & enhanced
mechanical and tribological properties provided by the
unique combination of properties of the fibers and the
matrices. In order to design or develop a good bearing
material it is necessary to characterize & understand the
friction & wear behavior of composites. An
understanding of the friction & wear mechanisms of
polymers would aid the development of composites for
the solution of technological problems.
Coefficient of friction of such material is of
importance as in braking materials (higher values) or
gears (limiting values). Friction and wear of composites
has been the subject of many studies and
experimentations over many years. In spite of the
numerous investigations, Fiber Reinforced Polymer
composites have unique capability of operating under
un lubricated conditions. In addition, many different
material combination and designs can be tailored for a
particular application.

This paper is a review paper concentrates on


the study of tribological behavior i.e. friction and wear
behavior of Fiber Reinforced Polymer composites based
on the fiber orientation, fiber volume fraction, fiber
size, & fiber type etc. Initially the mechanisms of wear:
film transfer, adhesion and delamination are discussed.
Then the affect of the internal factors (fiber orientation,
fiber volume fraction, types of fiber & matrix, and
modulus of elasticity), and external factors (normal
load, sliding velocity, surface roughness of the sliding
mate, sliding distance & temperature) on the friction
and wear behavior of fiber reinforced polymer
composite are studied. Finally friction and wear
properties of few composites like Kevlar 49 reinforced
in epoxy matrix, glass fiber in PEEK matrix, and carbon
fiber in PEEK matrix are studied.
Mechanisms of friction and wear:
Three mechanisms have been postulated to
explain sliding friction & wear of polymers: film
transfer (abrasion), adhesion & delamination (fatigue).
Film transfer [1] is the most significant
macroscopic phenomenon which differentiates a
polymer from a metal in friction & wear. Thus an
understanding of polymer wear must take into account
the formation & subsequent removal of any transferred
film & its chemical changes in addition to the accepted
mechanisms that have been proposed for metals. This
film can smooth out the metal counterface and reduce
both friction & wear rate as the sliding condition
changes from that of the polymer sliding steel to one of
the polymer sliding on polymer.
The friction & wear
behavior is also affected by the film thickness which is
related to the temperature and thus to the sliding speed
& the normal load. Knowledge of the chemistry of the
film and of the nature of the degradation products
produced by the very high local temperatures on the
polymeric sliding surfaces and the presence of the
metallic counterface should assist in understanding its
role in friction and wear. If the temperature due to the
high normal load and sliding speed is high, fiber
transfer may reduce the coefficient of friction and thus
affect its correlation with wear rate.
The adhesion theory of friction & wear [1] for
unlubricated metals has been widely accepted in the
field of tribology. This theory postulates that friction &
wear are controlled by the adhesion of contacting
asperities. Friction is due to the shearing of the
junctions formed at the regions of contact. Wear is due
to separation within the bulk of the weaker material by
a fracture process at the junction. Mathematical models
have been derived to predict friction from the bulk
properties of the weaker material and wear from the
hardness of the wearing material, the normal load & the

sliding distance. Such models do not take into account


the adhesion energy or the surface properties of the
sliding material.
In the delamination theory of wear [2]
proposed by suh, repeated normal & tangential loads,
which are transmitted through the contact points by
adhesive and ploughing actions, deform & sometimes
fracture the asperities on the softer surface, forming
small wear particles and generating a relatively smooth
surface. The contact thus becomes an asperity- plane
contact rather than an asperity asperity contact; the
asperities of the harder surface plough the softer surface
which then experiences cyclic loading. The surface
traction exerted by the harder asperity on the softer
surface initially induces plastic shear deformation
which accumulates with repeated loading leading to
crack nucleation: cracks which are nucleated below the
surface propagate parallel to the surface. Ultimately
they shear to the surface, generating delamination of
wear sheets of thickness equal to the crack propagation
depth which is controlled by the normal and tangential
loads at the surface.
Suh suggested that thermoplastics with
inclusions wear by the delamination mechanism; where
as pure thermoplastics wear by surface melting or
continuous deformation.
Factors affecting friction and wear of Fiber
Reinforced Polymer composites:
The abrasive wear of polymer composites has
been investigated by various researchers who studied
the effect of numerous parameters on the wear rate. The
wear rate increased with the increasing surface
roughness of a steel disk in dry & wet environments.
The abrasive wear rate of polymer composites
correlated with the mechanical properties (hardness and
fracture energy) and micro structural parameters (fiber
fraction, fiber aspect ratio, fiber diameter, roughness
and frictional coefficients). The abrasive wear rate is
also depends on the normal load, sliding distance,
temperature, moisture content.
Fiber orientation:
The effect of fiber orientation on composite
wear is still controversial [3]. Lancaster say that the
effect of fiber orientation on composite wear depends
on the fiber fraction in the composites: for composites
with low volume fraction (20%) the longitudinal
direction has higher wear, where as for composites with
high volume fraction (>40%) there is no fiber
orientation effect. The effect of the fiber orientation on
the wear rate also depends on the type of composite
material under consideration as well as on the type of
tribological system under which it operates.
In general the composites exhibit the greatest
wear resistance when fiber alignment is normal to the
plane of contact (normal orientation), & lowest wear
resistance when fiber alignment is in the plane of
contact and perpendicular to the sliding direction
(transverse orientation). Between these two extremes in
wear resistance is the longitudinal orientation, where
fiber alignment is in the contact plane and parallel to the
sliding direction.

The highest wear & friction coefficients are


obtained for fiber oriented in the transverse direction,
while intermediate for longitudinal direction. As the
fiber orientation is varied from normal to transverse,
both the friction coefficient & the Wear rate increase
gradually.
The orientation of fiber may vary between
parallel and perpendicular to the wearing surface [4].
Parallel and transverse sliding direction on composites
containing fiber lying parallel to the wearing surface
must be distinguished. Intermediate orientation can
occur between these extremes. The affect of fibers in
reducing wear loss depends on the ratio of indentation
depth of abrasive particles to the embedded length of
the fibers. Fibers parallel to the surface may dug out
more easily than that perpendicular to it. The abrasive
wear loss increased by changing the fiber orientation
from perpendicular to parallel to the wearing surface.
Reinforcing constituents of a size smaller than the
indentation depth of abrasive particles are easily dug
out. Hence, the abrasive wear loss may increase with
decreasing size of the reinforcing constituents.
Fibers of predominantly normal orientation
tended to produce lower wear intensity than those
parallel or anti parallel. Fiber lying normal to the
wearing surface tend to result in lower wear intensity
but sometimes in a greater coefficient of friction than
those lying parallel or anti parallel.

Fig. 1. Effect of wear rate on fiber orientation.


Composites containing normally oriented
fibers lead to lower wear intensity but may be greater
coefficient of friction than those with parallel or
antiparallel fibers. Continuous unidirectional fibers
result in the lowest wear intensity. Particulate
reinforced composites result in relatively poor
resistance, since they are easily detached from a
wearing surface.

Modulus of elasticity:
A low modulus of elasticity of the matrix or the fibers
favors debonding at interfaces [5]. Hard but brittle
fibers may be insufficiently supported by a matrix of
low modulus of elasticity, and are thus fractured or
pulled out during abrasion. Hence, abrasive wear loss
may increase with decreasing modulus of elasticity. The
ratio of hardness of abrasive particles to the reinforcing
constituents influences the abrasive wear. Constituents
harder than the abrasive particles act as strong barriers
against grooving and reduce wear loss effectively.
Abrasive wear loss increases when the hardness of the
abrasive particles increases relatively to the hardness of
the constituents. Brittle constituents or matrix favor
cracking and flaking due to abrasion. This result in
increasing abrasive wear loss.
High modulus fibers result in lower wear
intensity than high strength fibers. Wear intensity tends
to decrease with increasing elastic modulus of the fiber
and the composite. Improved fiber matrix bonding
lowers the wear intensity.
Some of the external variables affect the
tribological properties of fiber reinforced polymer
composites like normal load, sliding velocity, surface
roughness of the sliding mate, & the temperature.
Influence of normal load, sliding velocity on the
friction & wear:
With the increase in normal load the
coefficient of friction decreases in the case of fiber
reinforced polymer composites [6]. Depending upon the
normal load, the hard abrasive particles could merely
plow, deforming the matrix under small loads, which
they could crack and cut the material. It is known that
debris plowing would bend the fibers along eith the
matrix, resisting the cracking, while with higher normal
load; the fiber could be cut without being bend or
deforming. This is the case for increased plowing
friction under small loads.
Wear rate generally decreases as the sliding velocity
increases under a low normal load & the wear rate tends
to remain constant under a high load when sliding
velocity increases.
.

Fig.2. specific wear rate of FRP as a function of fiber


volume fraction against sliding velocity for two
different loads

Fig.3. Specific wear rate of FRP against Sliding


Velocity

Fig. 4. Wear rate v/s sliding speed for different fiber


volume fraction of Glass fiber reinforced composite.

Surface roughness:
Both friction coefficient and wear loss increase
if a critical surface roughness is exceeded [5]. The value
of surface roughness resulting in minimum friction and
wear loss depends on the test condition used. The
occurrence of the minimum can be explained by
decreasing adhesion with increasing roughness on the
left side & increasing abrasion with further increasing
roughness on the right side of the minimum. At
optimum roughness, a firmly attached transferred film
may also be involved.

Fig.6. Specific wear rate against sliding speed for Glass


and carbon fiber reinforced PEEK composite.

Fig.5. coefficient of friction & Wear loss against the


surface roughness.
A particularly attractive composite system is
that of carbon fiber reinforced polymers resulting from
the high stiffness and self lubricity of the fibers [7]. As
a polymer matrix, polyetheretherketone (PEEK) resin is
also of interest owing to its excellent resistance to
chemical attack while maintaining an adequate stiffness
at high temperature. Thus a carbon fiber reinforced
PEEK composite is likely to be very attractive
tribological material for demanding applications.
Addition of glass, carbon, Kevlar fibers to
polymers will improve their mechanical and tribological
properties. The wear rate decreases up to a certain
limiting value with increasing the fiber content. Carbon
fibers are more effective than glass fibers in increasing
the wear resistance of composites. Increased thermal
conductivity and resistance to heat distortion, a low
wear rate has been reported in carbon fiber reinforced
composites.
The combination of superior thermo
mechanical properties & good friction & wear
characteristics
renders
the
potential
of
polyetheretherketone composites as performance tribo
materials for use at high temperatures a very promising
one [8].

Fig.7. Specific wear rate against sliding speed for Glass


fiber reinforced PEEK composite for two orientations.

Sung & suh, studied three types of fiber


reinforced polymer composites [8]. They are
unidirectionally oriented composite with graphite fibers
reinforced in epoxy matrix, unidirectionally oriented
Kevlar 49 fibers reinforced in epoxy matrix, & glass
fibers in polytetraflouoroethelene (PTFE) with fibers
oriented in three orthogonal directions with fiber ratios
2:1:0.

For graphite epoxy composite the friction coefficient


and wear volume of each specimen were measured as a
function of sliding distance for three different fiber
orientations, Normal (N), Transverse (T), &
Longitudinal (L). Significant differences are found in
both friction coefficient and wear volume for three
orientations. The lowest wear & friction coefficients are
obtained for fiber oriented normal to the sliding surface.

Fig.9. Friction coefficient and wear volume as a


function of sliding distance in Kevlar 49 fiber epoxy
composite with fiber orientation Normal, Longitudinal,
& transverse to the sliding direction.
For Glass fiber PTFE composite the lowest
wear was obtained when the largest fraction of fibers
was oriented normal to the sliding plane, where as the
highest wear can exhibited when no fibers were
oriented normal to the sliding plane. The friction
coefficient were virtually identical being 0.34 for all
three orthogonal planes.
Fig.8. Friction coefficient and wear volume as a
function of sliding distance in graphite fiber epoxy
composite with fiber orientation Normal, Longitudinal,
& transverse to the sliding direction.
For Kevlar 49 epoxy composite, more wear
rate observed in normal direction, with highest friction
coefficient. The fiber orientation in increasing order of
wear- normal, transverse & longitudinal, were exactly
reversed in friction coefficient values. The maximum
wear and the minimum friction coefficient were
observed with longitudinal fiber orientation.

Fig.10. Friction coefficient and wear volume as a


function of sliding distance in glass fiber PTFE
composite with fiber orientation Normal, Longitudinal,
& transverse to the sliding direction.

Conclusion:
The following observations and conclusions can be
drawn from this study:
i.
The effect of fiber orientation on composite
wear depends on the fiber volume fraction in
the composites. If the composites with high
volume fraction, there is no fiber orientation
effect.
ii.
The friction and wear of composites depends
on the types of fiber and matrix, for carbon
fiber wear rate is less, where as for Kevlar 49
or glass fibers wear rate is high.
iii.
The friction and wear depends on the modulus
of elasticity of matrix and fiber, low modulus
of elasticity favors debonding at interfaces and
are then fractured or pulled out during
abrasion.
iv.
Both friction and wear increases if the critical
surface
roughness
exceeded.wear
rate
generally decreases as the sliding velocity
increases under a low normal load and the
wear rate tends to remain constant under a high
load when sliding velocity increases.

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composites, Wear 53 (1979) 279-301.
[2]. N P Suh, The delamination theory of wear,
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[3]. B Vishwanath, AP Verma, CVS Kameswara Rao
Effect of reinforcement on friction & wear of
fabric reinforced polymer composites, Wear 167
(1993) 93-99.
[4]. T C Ovaert Wear of unidirectional polymer
matrix Composites with fiber orientation in the
plane of contact, Tribology Transaction Vol. 40
(1997), 2, 227-234.
[5]. Karl-Heinz-ZumGahr Microstructure and wear of
materials, Elsevier (1987), 292-294, 323-328,
461-477.
[6]. M Cirino, K Friedrich, R B Pipes The effect of
fiber orientation on the abrasive wear behavior of
polymer composite materials, Wear 121 (1998)
127-141.654
[7]. H.Voss & K. Friedrich On the wear behavior of
short fiber reinforced PEEK composites, Wear
116 (1987) 1-18.
[8]. N H Sung & N P Suh, Effect of fiber orientation
on friction & wear of fiber reinforced polymeric
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[9]. C.Lhymn Analysis of wear statistics for polymer
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[10]. T C Ovaert On the wear behavior of
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