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Draping Behavior of Non-Crimp Fabrics



Non-crimp fabric (NCF) preforms are an attractive alternative to traditional preimpregnated tapes due to their low manufacturing cost and high efficiency. The orientation of the fibers in each layer can be tailored, independent of the other layers, to optimize the required load carrying capacity in that particular direction, making them capable of improved performance. Stitches help to keep the fiber tows in the NCF fabric straight during handling; however, the stitches prevent the fibers from reorienting easily to accommodate complex shapes without wrinkling. In order for NCF fabrics to be used to create complex geometric shapes, their draping behavior needs to be understood with respect to different fabric variables so that the draping performance can be maximized. To date, the draping behavior of NCF fabrics has been only sparsely investigated in contrast to the amount of research reported on woven fabrics. This paper presents an investigation on the role of fabric architecture in the formability of NCF fabrics. This study is a subset of a broad study conducted under the purview of a Department of Energy project funded to General Motors for developing state of the art computational tools for integrated manufacturing and structural performance prediction of carbon fiber composites. For modeling the draping behavior, fabric characterization tests such as bending and bias-extension evaluations were conducted for NCF fabrics with varying areal weights and construction. Taking advantage of ESI’s PAM-FORM material model, asymmetric shear behavior was included in conjunction with different membrane and bending behavior to model the draping behavior of these fabrics. For this study, the fabric characterization data was first used to calibrate the draping models in simple shear and bending tests. Later these models were validated against the deformation of the fabrics when they were formed using a truncated pyramid tool designed at the General Motors Research Labs to assess the drapeability of the dry fabrics.


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