Loughborough University

Experimental and mumerical analysis of deformation of low-density thermally bonded nonwovens

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posted on 2010-05-11, 09:13 authored by Xiaonan Hou
Nonwoven materials are engineered fabrics, produced by bonding constituent fibres together by mechanical, thermal or chemical means. Such a technology has a great potential to produce material for specific purposes. It is therefore crucial to develop right products with requested properties. This requires a good understanding of the macro and micro behaviours of nonwoven products. In last 40 years, many efforts have been made by researchers to understand the performance of nonwoven materials. One of the main research challenges on the way to this understanding is to link the properties of fibres and the fabric's random fibrous microstructure to the mechanisms of overall material's deformation. The purpose of this research is to study experimentally and numerically the deformation mechanisms of a low-density thermally bonded nonwoven fabric (fibre: Polypropylene; density: 20 gsm). The study started with tensile experiments for the nonwoven material. Specimens with varying dimensions and shapes were tested to investigate the size-dependent deformation mechanisms of the material. Based on obtained results, representative dimensions for the material are determined and used in other experimental and numerical studies. Then standard tensile tests were performed coupled with image analysis. Analysis of the obtained results, allowed the tensile behaviour of the nonwoven material to be determined, the initial study of the effects of material's nonuniform microstructure was also implemented. Based on the experimental results obtained from tensile tests, continuous finite-element models were developed to simulate the material properties of the nonwoven material for its two principle directions: machine direction (MD) and cross direction (CD). Due to the continuous nature of the models, they were only used to establish the mechanical behaviour of the material by treating it as a two-component composite. The effects of bond points, which are a stiffer component within the material, were analysed. Due to the limitations of the continuous FE models, experimental studies were performed focused on the material s microstructure. The latter was detected using an x-ray Micro CT system and an ARAMIS optical strain analysis system. According to the obtained images, the nonwoven fabric is a three-component material. The effects of material's microstructure on stress/strain distributions in the deformed material were studied using advanced image analysis techniques. Based on the experimental results, a new stress calculation method was suggested to substitute the traditional approach, which is not suitable for the analysis of the low density nonwoven material. Then, the fibres orientation distribution and material properties of single fibres were measured due to their significant effects on overall mechanical properties. Finally, discontinuous finite-element models were developed accounting for on the material's three-component structure. The models emphasised the effects of the nonuniform and discontinuous microstructure of the material. Mechanical properties of fibres, the density of fibrous network, the fibres orientation distribution and the arrangement of bond points were used as input parameters for the models, representing features of the material's microstructure. With the use of the developed discontinuous models, the effects of material's microstructure on deformation mechanisms of the low-density nonwoven material were analysed.



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


© Xiaonan Hou

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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