Strength of fibres in low-density thermally bonded nonwovens: an experimental investigation

Mechanical properties of nonwovens related to damage such as failure stress and strain at that stress depend on deformation and damage characteristics of their constituent fibres. Damage of polypropylene-fibre commercial low-density thermally bonded nonwovens in tension was analysed with tensile tests on single fibres, extracted from nonwovens bonded at optimal manufacturing parameters and attached to individual bond points at both ends. The same tests were performed on raw polypropylene fibres that were used in manufacturing of the analysed nonwovens to study quantitatively the effect of manufacturing parameters on tenacity of fibres. Those tests were performed with a wide range of strain rates. It was found that the fibres break at their weakest point, i.e. bond edge, in optimally bonded nonwovens. Additionally, failure stress and strain in tension of a fibre extracted from the fabric were significantly lower than those of virgin fibre. Since damage in nonwovens occurs by progressive failure of fibres, those experiments were used to establish damage initiation and propagation in thermally bonded nonwovens based on polypropylene fibres. Moreover, the results obtained from the experiments are useful to simulate the damage behaviour of nonwoven fabrics.