PROJECT ON STUDY OF MATERIALS WILL FAVOR THE INDUSTRY
ACADEMIC GONZALO PINCHEIRA, FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGINEERING, ANALYZES THE BEHAVIOR OF CERTAIN PLASTICS REINFORCED WITH FIBERS TO KNOW ITS CAPABILITIES.
May 2, 2017
Fiber-reinforced polymers are the materials studied by Professor Gonzalo Pincheira, from the Department of Engineering, through an initiation in research Fondecyt project which will last three years and whose results can be of great value to improve the quality of different products.
The Initiative, which won close to 90 million pesos (US$ 135,000, approx.), is called "Study of the Influence of Interlaminar Properties for the Behavior outside the Plane of a Nanocomposite or Nano-Reinforced Composite."
"The materials I will study are high-performance materials and they are being used today in various applications, because they are light as plastic and, at the same time, resistant like metals, in some cases. They are manufactured in layers that are attached to each other which make them to have very distinctive properties," said the researcher.
Its use is cross-sectional in engineering, in the manufacture of hundreds of products from boats or motorboats, rotor blades, aircraft and automobile parts. "Once you know in detail how a material behaves it can be passed to a next phase that has to do with products design and building them in an optimal way. These can range from sports equipment to prosthesis for a person who suffered an amputation," said Pincheira.
For the analysis, sheets of glass fiber will be used which are joined with epoxy resin and to which is added a nanocomponent called carbon nanotubes. With this composite material, laboratory testing will be carried out to observe the behavior and characteristics of the sector located between the layers.
The scholar explained that for these experiences the manufacturing parameters of the compounds will undergo modifications. For example, small pieces of the component with alignments of glass fibers in different directions or in only one direction will be built, and will also different amounts of layers in the same space will be used, which will enable them to measure the response of the compound. "This type of variations in the material cannot be done in a simple plastic or metal, it can only be made in elements such as these," said the academic.
In practical terms, the researcher's work starts with the manufacture of these small pieces of material that are used for carrying out the laboratory tests. With respect to the resin used for experimentation, which is a liquid with two parts and that, when mixed, react becoming solid and merging with the fibers. Carbon nanotubes can be mixed with resin in a previous phase to the interaction with the fibers, which makes it possible to have a nano reinforced compound or a nanocomposite with better properties.
The results obtained experimentally are then processed in specific computational systems for this purpose, where numerical simulations are carried out. In this part of the work, academic Karin Saavedra, from the same unit, and who does research in a similar and complementary area, will collaborate with the research.
"These two processes, the simulation and laboratory, enable us to obtain very detailed results and so we will be able to get data that will subsequently lead to the development of final products and parts that are optimal in their performance and resistance," said Pincheira.
As part of the study, the University prepared a space for building a laboratory for the manufacture of composite materials. It is called Laboratory for the Development of Prototypes and Products and it began to be implemented this year, through the purchase of equipment by the 2030 Engineering Project and by the School of Mechanical Engineering of the University, funds that will be complemented with the contribution of the Fondecyt granted to Gonzalo Pincheira.
Among the machines purchased by the institution there is an equipment to perform basic mechanical traction, compression and cyclic loads tests, and a central vacuum system, which is used for the manufacturing of composite materials and to adhere the nanoparticles, through a process called vacuum infusion.
Under the project, other accessories will be acquired that are used to measure certain variables of the compounds, and the materials needed to generate the samples will be bought, which have a high cost. "This new space will be used not only for research, but also for the training of our undergraduate and graduate students," concluded the researcher.
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