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Effect of tool surface topography on friction with carbon fibre tows for composite fabric forming

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Mulvihill, DM 
Sutcliffe, MPF 


The effect of tool surface roughness topography on tow-on-tool friction relevant to the dry forming of composite fabrics is investigated. A comprehensive range of tool average surface roughness Ra values from 0.005 to 3.2 μm was used in friction testing with carbon fibre tows. The measured slope of these surfaces, which is the critical surface topographical characteristic, increased significantly with increasing roughness amplitude. Friction was found to be sensitive to roughness topography for very smooth surfaces (Ra < 0.1 μm) and increased with decreasing roughness slope and amplitude. For rougher surfaces (Ra > 0.1 μm), friction was relatively insensitive to roughness slope and amplitude. A finite element idealisation of the tow-on-tool contact was used to explain these results in terms of the level of tow-tool conformance. Smooth surfaces have low slopes which allow good conformance, and hence high real contact area and friction. Rougher surfaces have high slopes, particularly at shorter wavelengths, which prevents good conformance. In this case, point contact between fibres and surface dominates, leaving the resulting friction less sensitive to roughness.



A. carbon fibres, A. tow, E. forming, friction

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Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing

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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/K032798/1)
The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for supporting the present work under grant Ref. EP/K032798/1 (Friction in Composites Forming). We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of our industrial collaborators at Jaguar Land Rover and Granta Design Ltd, as well as our academic partners from the Composites Research Group at the University of Nottingham (Prof. Andy Long, Prof. Nick Warrior and Prof. Davide De Focatiis). Dr Olga Smerdova of ‘‘Institut PPrime”, ISAE-ENSMA, Poitiers is thanked for useful discussions throughout the work. Hexcel are thanked for supplying the tow material.
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