Processing, Properties, and Uses of Lightweight Glass Fiber/Aluminum Hybrid Structures

Processing, Properties, and Uses of Lightweight Glass Fiber/Aluminum Hybrid Structures

Noureddine Ramdani (Ecole Militaire Polytechnique, Chahid Abderrahmane Taleb, Algiers, Algeria) and Mohammed Seddik Razali (Ecole Militaire Polytechnique, Chahid Abderrahmane Taleb, Algiers, Algeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7864-3.ch005
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The replacement of heavy metallic structures by high-performance lightweight composite materials is a prominent solution to fulfill the continuous demand in different industrial sectors. Lightweight structures based on aluminum-glass fiber reinforced plastics (GFRP) sandwich panels have been increasingly utilized in the shipbuilding, automotive, and aerospace industries for their striking mechanical and physical properties. These advantageous properties have resulted from the combination of the high tensile and flexural strengths, increased hardness, and the improved wear-resistance of aluminum laminate with the unique properties of lightweight stiffness and high strength weight ratio of glass fiber-reinforced. In this chapter, the various processing approaches, properties, and applications of these sandwich structures are summarized from a wide range of literature.
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During the last few decades, a strong need in the aircraft industry for high-performance, lightweight materials has motivated an increasing trend towards the progress of improved types for fiber-metal laminates (FMLs). These materials are exhibiting several advantageous structural, physical, and mechanical characteristics as given in Table 1. These FMLs are hybrid composite materials constituted from interweaving thin metallic layers and fiber-reinforced thermoplastic or thermoset-based polymer composites (FRPC) adhesives.

Table 1.
Advantageous features of FML.
Material behaviour  • High strength
  • High fracture toughness
  • High fatigue and impact resistance
  • High energy absorbing capacity
Physical propertiesLow density
Durability  • Excellent moisture resistance
  • Good corrosion resistance
  • Lower material degradation
SafetyFire resistance

Due to their outstanding mechanical and physical properties, engineering fibers such as carbon, glass, and Kevlar are widely used to reinforce metallic laminates like aluminum and titanium to produce high-performance lightweight hybrid structures. Table 2 compares the advantages and shortcoming characteristics of these fibers. The market of these sandwich composite contains several commercially-models of FMLs such as the CARALL (Carbon Reinforced Aluminium Laminate), based on carbon fibres, the ARALL (Aramid Reinforced Aluminium Laminate), containing aramid fibres, and the GLARE (Glass Reinforced Aluminium Laminate), containing stronger glass fibres. By combining the striking properties of the hybrid feature from their two main components: metals (usually aluminium) and fiber-reinforced polymer laminate, these materials demonstrated many outstanding performances including lightweight, superior mechanical tensile and bending properties, a good damage tolerance to fatigue crack development, and impact damage, especially for aeronautic part productions (Sinmazçelik et al., 2011).

Table 2.
Comparison between glass, carbon and aramid fiber.
Glass fiberMajorly utilized products of thermosets and thermoplastics. Often used in the marina area, for boats, vehicles and construction industry.• Low price
• Electrical insulating
• High tensile strength
• Easy to laminate
- Low stiffness
- High density
- Stinging grinding dust
Carbon fibreApplications that require high stiffness and strength relative to the weight. Aviation and aerospace industry, military industry and sports products.• High stiffness
• High tensile strength
• High fatigue resistance
• Attractive appearance
- Expensive
- Poor impact resistance
- Brittle, low yield strength
- Electrically conductive, form galvanic element in contact with metals
Aramid fibreApplications that require good impact resistance and tensile strength. In ballistic laminates and reinforcements. Military industry, aviation and aerospace industry.• Good impact resistance
• High tear strength
• Low density
- Poor UV
-resistance. Darken and decompose when exposed to sunlight
- Low compression and bending strength due to limited wetting

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