Herrod-Taylor, Andrew James (2011)
M.Res. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Thermoplastic matrix composites are advantageous over thermosetting matrix composites in that they can give improved damage tolerance, shorter production times and inherent recyclability (via melt reprocessing). Poly aryl ether ether ketone (PEEK) is a semi-crystalline, high-performance engineering polymer whose properties can be enhanced through fibre reinforcement. The properties of PEEK and its composites are sensitive to changes in the crystalline content and morphology, which are influenced by the processing conditions. As such it is of great importance to have a good understanding of the crystallisation process of PEEK under various conditions. A number of parameters were investigated with respect to their effects on the crystallisation of neat and carbon fibre reinforced PEEK. The parameters studied were the melt temperature, the isothermal crystallisation temperature, and the non-isothermal cooling rate. It is of paramount importance to heat PEEK in excess of 400°C before processing to remove all previous crystalline entities. PEEK crystallises more rapidly in the presence of carbon fibres as a result of heterogeneous nucleation at the fibre surface. PEEK crystallises in the form of spherulitic crystals under isothermal crystallisation conditions. An increased cooling rate lowers the degree of crystallinity of PEEK as calculated by DSC and verified indirectly by FTIR.
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