This paper explores the performance of low-cost unidirectional carbon fibre towpregs with respect to line production speed and fibre volume fraction. Using an automated production line, towpregs were produced at different production speeds, resulting in modified fibre volume fractions. The towpregs were used to manufacture unidirectional composite plates, which were then tested to evaluate mechanical performance. The fibre straightness and interfacial void ratio of the composite plates were determined by statistical analysis of the samples’ optical micrographs. The results demonstrate that adjusting the line production speed enables targeted fibre volume fractions (FVF) to be reached, resulting in the composites having different mechanical performances (2039 MPa and 2186.7 MPa tensile strength, 1.26 and 1.21 GPa flexural strength for 59.8% and 64.4% FVF, respectively). It was shown that at lower production speeds and FVF, composites exhibit good consolidation and low porosity, which is highlighted by the better interlaminar shear strength performances (8.95% increase), indicating the limitations of manufacturing very high FVF composites. Furthermore, it was concluded that fibre straightness plays a key role in mechanical performance, as samples with a lesser degree of fibre straightness showed a divergence from theoretical tensile properties.
- fibre volume fraction
- advanced composite manufacturing
- powder epoxy