Any resin system for use in a composite material will require the following properties:
1. Good mechanical properties
2. Good adhesive properties
3. Good toughness properties
4. Good resistance to environmental degradation
Mechanical Properties of the Resin System
The figure below shows the stress / strain curve for an 'ideal' resin system. The curve for this resin shows high ultimate strength, high stiffness (indicated by the initial gradient) and a high strain to failure. This means that the resin is initially stiff but at the same time will not suffer from brittle failure.
It should also be noted that when a composite is loaded in tension, for the full mechanical properties of the fibre component to be achieved, the resin must be able to deform to at least the same extent as the fibre. The figure below gives the strain to failure for E-glass, S-glass, aramid and high-strength grade carbon fibres on their own (i.e. not in a composite form). Here it can be seen that, for example, the S-glass fibre, with an elongation to break of 5.3%, will require a resin with an elongation to break of at least this value to achieve maximum tensile properties.
Adhesive Properties of the Resin System
High adhesion between resin and reinforcement fibres is necessary for any resin system. This will ensure that the loads are transferred efficiently and will prevent cracking or fibre / resin debonding when stressed.
Toughness Properties of the Resin System
Toughness is a measure of a material's resistance to crack propagation, but in a composite this can be hard to measure accurately. However, the stress / strain curve of the resin system on its own provides some indication of the material's toughness. Generally the more deformation the resin will accept before failure the tougher and more crack-resistant the material will be. Conversely, a resin system with a low strain to failure will tend to create a brittle composite, which cracks easily. It is important to match this property to the elongation of the fibre reinforcement.
Environmental Properties of the Resin System
Good resistance to the environment, water and other aggressive substances, together with an ability to withstand constant stress cycling, are properties essential to any resin system. These properties are particularly important for use in a marine environment.
Published courtesy of David Cripps, Gurit