Fabrication and characterization of polyphenylene sulfide composites with ultra-high content of carbon fiber fabrics

  • Liang Zhao
  • Qizhong Ge
  • Jiuxiao SunEmail author
  • Jiashun Peng
  • Xianze Yin
  • Leping Huang
  • Jihui Wang
  • Hua Wang
  • Luoxin WangEmail author
Original Research


In this study, polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) composite, which has ultra-high content of carbon fiber fabrics (CFF), was prepared from CFF and PPS nonwoven by a facile thermal-compressive method. The results show that the PPS composite composed of 80 wt% CFFs has optimal mechanical properties, where the tensile strength, fracture elongation, elastic modulus, flexural strength, flexural modulus, interlaminar shear strength, and impact strength reach to 1200.3 MPa, 20.3%, 25.7 GPa, 1305.6 MPa, 230.6 GPa, 110.3 MPa, and 348.6 KJ/m2, respectively. In addition, the volume resistivity, conductivity, and surface resistivity of the PPS composite with 80 wt% CFFs can reach to 1.3 × 10−2 Ω·cm, 74.9 S/cm, and 1.2 × 10−1 Ω·□ respectively. The increased interfacial layer and riveting effect between CFFs are responsible for outstanding structural stability and stress transformation, resulting in ultra-high strength and modulus of CFF/PPS composite, as well as the conductive performance.

Graphical abstract

Schematic diagram of failure mechanism and optical microscope images of cross sections of CFF/PPS composites.


Polyphenylene sulfide Carbon fiber fabrics Composite Mechanical properties Damage mechanics 

1 Introduction

Fiber reinforced thermoplastics (FRTP) have been widely used in the field of automobiles, aerospace and military industry [1, 2, 3]. Many manufacturing methods of FRTP have been developed, such as resin transfer molding (RTM) [4], injection molding [5], and compression molding [6]. FRTP also can be used in the process of engineering system for repairing or welding [7, 8].

Polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), as a high-performance engineering thermoplastic, possesses high temperature stability, high flame retardancy, chemical corrosion resistance, as well as good mechanical and electrical properties [9, 10]. However, the application of PPS is restricted by its inherent brittleness. Thus, increasing interests motivate people to combine PPS with other phases, e.g., expanded graphite for electrically conductive and mechanical properties [11] and PVDF for excellent mechanical and tribological properties [12]. Among the various additions, the carbon fiber (CF), due to its high stiffness and strength, has been one of the main structural materials. Vieille et al. [13] discussed the influence of temperature on the mechanical properties of CF/PPS composite incorporating 50 vol% CFs, which was fabricated by compression molding. The results demonstrate that temperature significantly affects the quality of the interfacial adhesion between fiber and matrix. Stoeffler et al. [14] investigated the effect of recycled carbon fibers on the CF/PPS composite. Via injection molding, the composites containing 20 wt% and 40 wt% of recycled carbon fiber exhibit better mechanical properties compared to the composites containing short virgin carbon fiber with industrial grades. Rao et al. [15] utilized the PPS suspension to impregnate unidirectional carbon fiber cloth. The CF/PPS prepregs were prepared by removing the solvents with the point heating method. The PPS composite laminate containing less than 65 vol% CFs could achieve excellent mechanical properties. Based on the above research, it is well established that, in the PPS composite, the content of noncontinuous CFs is generally controlled to a relatively low level (generally less than 60 wt%). It is mainly due to the high viscosity of thermoplastic resin, which is two to three orders of magnitude higher than that of the thermosetting resin. The difficult of impregnation of the reinforced fibers will affect the properties of composites, particularly resulting in low interfacial bonding. Thus, it is difficult to obtain CFF/PPS composite composed of ultra-high content of CFFs by conventional manufacturing methods.

In the previous work, PPS nonwoven fabricated in our lab has been used in some fields such as oil/water separation membrane [16, 17], lithium ion battery separator [18], and water pollution control [19, 20] as well as GFF/PPS composites [21]. Based on our previous work, the flexible nonwovens from PPS resin slices were prepared and then laminated with carbon fiber fabrics. The CFF/PPS composites with different CFF contents were made by compression molding method. The CFF/PPS composite shows better mechanical properties than the ones of existing literature. Nevertheless, due to the larger surface density (the weight per square meter of PPS nonwoven), the mechanical properties of prepared CFF/PPS composites began to decline when the content of the carbon fabric exceeded 50 wt%. Fortunately, by controlling the surface density of PPS nonwoven, we obtained the rigid PPS composite with ultra-high CFF content and robust mechanical properties. The mechanical properties, wettability, crystallization behavior, micromorphology, rheological properties, and failure mechanism of the composites were studied. It is expected that our method will be useful for the preparation of continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) composite.

2 Experiment

2.1 Materials

The PPS granular slicing was supplied by Deyang Chemical Co., Ltd., China, and the PPS nonwovens were self-prepared via the melt-blown method. The CFF (3K-T300) was purchased from Mitsubishi. The silane coupling agent 3-glycidoxypropyl trimethoxysilane (KH560) was obtained from the Macklin Company, and acetic acid was obtained from the Sinopharm Chemical Reagent Co., Ltd., China.

2.2 Preparation of PPS nonwovens and CFF/PPS composite

The PPS melt-blown nonwovens were prepared according to the previous literature [22]. The PPS feedstock was fully dried under the vacuum condition at 120 °C for 12 h. The crystallized PPS pellets were loaded into a conventional melt-blowing apparatus (DQ9617, Beijing Jianqi Industry Co., Ltd., China). The extrusion temperature of PPS pellets was 310–330 °C. The extruded filaments were attenuated in a high velocity hot air steam with the temperature of 350–360 °C. The formed discontinuous PPS microfibers were deposited on a take-up screen as a random entangled web. Finally, the large quantity of PPS superfine fibers formed a nonwoven fabric with different thicknesses by self-bonding.

The CFFs were put into the muffle furnace at 400 °C for 2 h with the air conditions. Then, the purified CFFs was immersed in alcohol solution and treated by ultra-sonic processing for 1 h. Afterwards, the CFFs were dried in the oven. The KH560 with a volume fraction of 2% was dispersed in the alcohol, and the pH value of KH560 solutions was adjusted to four to five. The treated CFFs were immersed in the solution of KH560 for 2 h and dried out for 24 h. Finally, it was put into the oven at 80 °C for 24 h.

The different layers of CFFs and PPS nonwovens were stacked alternatively in the specific mold (200 mm × 200 mm × 2 mm) and pressed by the thermocompressor with temperature of 320 °C, pressure of 30 MPa, and holding time of 30 min. To remove the inside air bubbles, the procedures of unloading-loading were carried out for five times. After that, another compression step with a pressure of 10 MPa for 5 min was applied. Finally, the composites were cooled by cycling water. The CFF/PPS-60 wt%, CFF/PPS-65 wt%, CFF/PPS-70 wt%, CFF/PPS-75 wt%, CFF/PPS-80 wt%, and CFF/PPS-85 wt% present the CFF/PPS composite with the CFF content of 60 wt%, 65 wt%, 70 wt%, 75 wt%, 80 wt%, and 85 wt%, respectively.

2.3 Characterizations

The tensile properties, flexural properties, and interlaminar shear strength (ILSS) were determined using a universal testing machine (Instron 5967, Instron, USA) according to the ASTM D3039 standard with a speed of 10 mm/min. The flexural properties were measured using the three-point bending method according to the ASTM D7264 standard. The span-to-thickness ratio was 32, and the crosshead speed was 10 mm/min. The ILSS was determined in accordance with ASTM D2344, the span-to-thickness ratio was four, and the crosshead speed was 10 mm/min. The impact strength was tested in an Izod impact test machine in accordance with ASTM D256. The results and standard deviation for each group of samples were derived by averaging five specimens tested at room temperature. The crystallization behavior of CFF/PPS composites was examined by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) (Model Q200, TA Instruments, USA). Samples having 3–4 mg weight were loaded in an aluminum pan and scanned from 200 to 300 °C at 20 °C/min under 50 ml/min flow of nitrogen gas. The cross section of CFF/PPS composites and crack morphology were observed by an optical microscope (BX51TRF, Olympus, Japan). According to the literature [23], the apparent void content Xv of CFF/PPS composite was calculated as follows:
$$ {X}_{\mathrm{v}}=\frac{\rho_{\mathrm{t}}-{\rho}_{\mathrm{e}}}{\rho_{\mathrm{t}}} $$
$$ {\rho}_{\mathrm{t}}=\frac{\rho_{\mathrm{f}}\cdotp {\rho}_{\mathrm{m}}}{w_{\mathrm{f}}\cdotp {\rho}_{\mathrm{m}}+{w}_{\mathrm{m}}\cdotp {\rho}_{\mathrm{f}}} $$
where ρf is the density of CFF, ρm is the density of PPS, Wf and Wm are the mass fraction of CFFs and PPS matrix, and ρe is the experimental density of CFF/PPS composite. The flexural fracture surface of CFF/PPS composite was analyzed using the scanning electron microscope (SEM) (JSM-6700F, Jeol, Japan) at 20 kV. The samples were coated with gold using an ion sputtering machine. The rheological tests were conducted on the Rheometer (MARS III, Thermo Scientific Haake, USA). The storage modulus (G′) and loss modulus (G″) were measured at fixed angular frequency of 6.28 rad/s and strain amplitude of 5% with the temperature range of 240–320 °C.

3 Results and discussion

3.1 Mechanical properties of CFF/PPS composite

Tensile properties, flexural properties, ILSS, and impact strength of CFF/PPS composite with 60–85 wt% CFF content are shown in Fig. 1(a)–(c). It was observed that a massive enhancement of the mechanical properties of CFF/PPS composite was obtained by increasing the CFF content to an ultra-high value. The tensile strength, fracture elongation, elastic modulus, flexural strength, flexural modulus, ILSS, and impact strength of CFF/PPS-80 wt% composite were increased to 1200.3 MPa, 20.3%, 25.7 GPa, 1305.6 MPa, 230.6 GPa, 110.3 MPa, and 348.6 KJ/m2, respectively. In comparation to the samples of CFF/PPS-60 wt%, 24.6%, 93.3%, 144.8%, 33.2%, 82.3%, 56.5%, and 116.8% increments were reported respectively. It can be obviously seen that via the current processing process (as shown in Fig. 1(e)), the preparation of PPS composite with ultra-high CFF content can be easily achieved. However, a negative effect was observed in CFF/PPS-85 wt% composite, causing decrement of 39.3%, 59.6%, 77.8%, 46.3%, 73.8%, 63.6%, and 73.1% comparing to those of CFF/PPS-80 wt% composite in terms of tensile strength, fracture elongation, elastic modulus, flexural strength, flexural modulus, ILSS, and impact strength.
Fig. 1

Mechanical properties of CFF/PPS composite of (a) tensile properties, (b) flexural properties, and (c) ILSS and impact strength; (d) comparation in mechanical properties of CF/PPS composites between this work and literatures; the diversification of stacking mode caused by different surface density of PPS nonwovens of (e) larger surface density and (f) smaller surface density

Jing [24] et al. investigated the effects of surface modifications for CFFs on the mechanical properties of CFF/PPS composite. Based on appropriate CFF surface modification, the tensile strength, flexural strength, and ILSS of CFF/PPS composites were up to 797.4 MPa, 953.7 MPa, and 91.4 MPa, respectively. Khan [25] et al. systematically studied the thermal, mechanical, and microscopic properties of CF/PPS composite, which was prepared utilizing the hand lay-up technique followed by compression molding. It was well exhibited that the flexural strength and modulus reached to approximately 159.8 MPa and 21.0 GPa. Liu [26] et al. fabricated the high-performance CF/PPS composite using thermoplastic prepregs in a double-belt press. The consolidation quality and mechanical properties were carefully evaluated, where the tensile strength, flexural strength, flexural modulus, and ILSS values were approximately 1080.0 MPa, 980.0 MPa, 63.0 GPa, and 50.6 MPa. From previous investigations, it is considered that the CF content is generally limited to less than 60 wt% without losing the mechanical properties, in which the PPS is in form of powder, film, or suspension. For CF/PPS composites which are blended with short carbon fiber and PPS powder or granular, it is easy to lead to the uneven dispersion of short carbon fiber in the composite system in the case of increasing CF content, and the phenomenon of agglomeration occurs scientifically. While PPS is used as the matrix material in the form of film, the displacement of CF and resin is easy to occur due to the insufficient fixation effect of PPS on CFs. More importantly, the characteristic of compactness for PPS film makes it more difficult to remove internal gas in the process of compounding with CFF. In addition, the PPS content is difficult to control while using the PPS in the form of suspension coated with CF. Therefore, in the case of CF content exceeding 60 wt%, the structure of CF/PPS composite is unstable, and its mechanical properties are relatively poor, which leads to the difficult preparation of CF/PPS composites composed of ultra-high content of CFs with excellent performance through traditional methods.

In order to adequately comprehend the effects of two types of stacking methods (as shown in Fig. 1 (e) and (f)) on CFF/PPS composites, the mechanical properties of CFF/PPS-60 wt% composite were measured and shown in Table 1. It shows that the CFF/PPS composite fabricated by the mode B could achieve uniform alternating layering, which not only improved the tensile and flexural properties but also enhanced the interlayer performance. More importantly, the flexural strength and modulus achieved as high as 980.6 MPa and 126.5 GPa for CFF/PPS composite fabricated by the mode B, which was 62.6% and 314.8% higher than the values (603.2 MPa and 30.5 GPa) of composite fabricated by mode A. Additionally, there are massive promotion occurring in the ILSS (70.5 MPa) and impact strength (160.8 KJ/m2), both of which are 283.2% and 420.4% higher than those of CFF/PPS composite fabricated by mode A. Thus, it indicates that for a specific mixture ratio of CFF/PPS composite, the surface densities of PPS nonwovens and CFFs have a significant influence on the mechanical performance of the composites. In the case of utilizing large surface density of PPS nonwovens, the CFF cannot be evenly distributed in the layering system; the stacking of two or more layers of CFF makes it hard to penetrate the melt PPS nonwoven. Nevertheless, the smaller surface density of PPS nonwoven can decrease the infiltration distance of PPS resin. Therefore, the improved approach can be used to prepare the PPS composite with ultra-high CFF content with excellent performance.
Table 1

Comparation of mechanical properties of CFF/PPS composite between previous work (A: CFF/PPS-60 wt%) and this work (B: CFF/PPS-60 wt%) and CFF/PPS-80 wt% composite (C: with KH560 treatment and D: without KH560 treatment)






Tensile strength (MPa)





Fracture elongation (%)





Young’s modulus (GPa)




Flexural strength (MPa)





Flexural modulus (GPa)










Impact strength (KJ/m2)





3.2 Crystallization behavior of CFF/PPS composite

Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) was conducted to measure crystallization behaviors. Figure 2(a) and (b) give the DSC curves of CFF/PPS composites composed of different CFF contents, and the DSC parameters of CFF/PPS composite are listed in Table 2. It is obviously observed that the values of TcTp increase first and then decrease, where the Tc and Tp present initial crystallization temperature and crystallization peak temperature, respectively. The value of TcTp is inversely proportional to the crystallization rate [27]. Presumably, the presence of carbon fiber with sustained increasing content provides more active fields for additional nucleation sites, which lead to an increased overall rate of crystallization. Figure 2(c) shows the crystallization of different samples. The crystallization (Xc) of CFF/PPS composite was calculated by following Eq. (3):
$$ {X}_{\mathrm{c}}\ \left(\%\right)=\frac{\Delta {H}_{\mathrm{c}}}{\Delta {H}_{\mathrm{m}}^{{}^{\circ}}\left(1-x\right)}\times 100\% $$
where ∆Hc, \( \Delta {H}_{\mathrm{m}}^{{}^{\circ}} \), and x are the melt enthalpy, the melt enthalpy of PPS 100% crystalline (80 J/g), and CFF content [26]. It is presented that the crystallization of CFF/PPS composite is affected by CFF content and the highest crystallization is found in CFF/PPS-80 wt% composite (~ 46.2%). With higher CFF content, the average interfiber spacing becomes smaller, and the polymer chains between the fibers are forced to align and become somewhat ordered in the melt. The increase of chain alignment enhances both the nucleation and crystal growth in the stage of the crystallization process. Thus, the CFF/PPS composites exhibited excellent crystallization properties, which results in the enhancement of strength and modulus. Nevertheless, in the case of overfull CFF, the drop-off in crystallinity can be mainly attributed to the space limitation. In such conditions, the restricted geometry effect results in the imperfect crystal growth, which would introduce crystal defects [28, 29]. Moreover, the overfull CFFs can retard the movement of PPS molecular chain segments. The PPS segments would not fill the lattice during the crystallization process. Consequently, the strength and modulus of CFF/PPS composites are decreased.
Fig. 2

DSC curves of CFF/PPS composites of (a) melt process and (b) cooling process and (c) the crystallinity of CFF/PPS composite

Table 2

DSC crystallization parameters of CFF/PPS composites


Tp (°C)

Tc (°C)

TcTp (°C)

Tm (°C)

Hm (J/g)

Hc (J/g)

CFF/PPS-60 wt%







CFF/PPS-65 wt%







CFF/PPS-70 wt%







CFF/PPS-75 wt%







CFF/PPS-80 wt%







CFF/PPS-85 wt%







3.3 Wettability

In general, the wettability plays an important role for strengthening the mechanical properties of FRTPs, especially for those composed of ultra-high content fillers. It is generally believed that there are massive voids and defects emerging in the composites due to the restricted resin mobility which results in poor interfacial bonding [30]. Therefore, the cross-section photographs of CFF/PPS composite with different content of CFF are shown in Fig. 3 (a)-(f). The plain-woven structure of CFFs with warp and weft yarns can be clearly observed. In the case of the addition of CFFs with 60 wt% to 70 wt%, there were larger black areas distinctly observed in the CFF/PPS composite (Fig. 3)(a)-(c), demonstrating the existence of voids and defects among the CFs or rich resin regions in the composites [31]. The similar result could be observed when the addition of CFFs was up to 85 wt% (shown in Fig. 3(f)). However, wettability could be improved when the CFF content was about 75–80 wt%. It can be evidently observed that the black areas are almost disappearing in Fig. 3 (d) and (e). The CF bundles in the CFF/PPS composite are completely infiltrated. As for the CFF/PPS-80 wt% composite, the apparent void content reaches to 0.4% (Fig. 3 (g)). Based on the above results, it can be concluded that excellent wettability of CFF/PPS composite can be achieved when adjusting the CFF content in a range from 75 to 80 wt%.
Fig. 3

Cross-section optical images of CFF/PPS composite. (a) CFF/PPS-60 wt%. (b) CFF/PPS-65 wt%. (c) CFF/PPS-70 wt%. (d) CFF/PPS-75 wt%. (e) CFF/PPS-80 wt%. f) CFF/PPS-85 wt% and (g) Porosity of CFF/PPS composite

It is well documented in literature [32] that the poor wettability of CF bundles leads to weaker interfacial bonding capability and poor interlaminar shear strength. In this case, the stress can hardly be effectively transferred to the surrounded PPS resin and the mechanical properties of the corresponding CFF/PPS composites are greatly limited. As mentioned in literatures [33, 34], the rich resin zone in the CFF/PPS composite is easy to cause delamination in the initial loading process due to the poor wettability. Based on the above analysis, it is confirmed that when CFF content locates in a range of 75–80 wt%, the better wettability contributes to the better mechanical properties of CFF/PPS composite.

Morphology of the flexural fractured surface of CFF/PPS composite was investigated to discuss the improvement of mechanical properties (Fig. 4). It can be seen that large amount of PPS resin is still attached on the surfaces of CF for the cases of the CFF content from 60 to 80 wt% (Fig. 4 (a)–(e)), which indicates that the interfacial bonding between PPS and CF is excellent. This phenomenon is attributed to pretreatment of CFF by the KH560, which is well confirmed that the KH560 is easy to combine with CFF to form the –Si–O–Si– bonds [35]. In addition, the ring opening reaction between the epoxy group of KH560 and the thiol group at the end of the PPS molecular chain forms the effective chemical bonds [36]. There are enough PPS resins infiltrating the CFs while the CFF content increases to 80 wt%. However, when the CFF content is elevated up to 85 wt%, few PPS resins are observed on the surface of CFs (Fig. 4 (f)), presenting a terrible wettability. Based on the phenomenon, it can be concluded that the appropriate coupling agent and enough PPS resin provide a guarantee for good interface in the condition of high CFF content, resulting in excellent mechanical properties.
Fig. 4

Morphology of the flexural fractured surface of CFF/PPS composite. (a) CFF/PPS-60 wt%. (b) CFF/PPS-65 wt%. (c) CFF/PPS-70 wt%. (d) CFF/PPS-75 wt%. (e) CFF/PPS-80 wt%. (f) CFF/PPS-85 wt%

3.4 Viscoelasticity of CFF/PPS composite

As an effective approach to characterize the viscoelasticity of fiber reinforced polymer composite, the dynamic rheological test was employed to obtain the storage modulus (G′) and loss modulus (G″). And it is known that the G′ presents the ability to store elastic deformation energy and G″ is corresponding to the energy dissipation of viscous deformation. Figure 5 shows the rheological properties of CFF/PPS composite with different CFF contents as a function of temperature. It can be seen from the curve that the G′ and G″ of the CFF/PPS composite are divided into three regions, including the solid state (G′ > G″), the solid-liquid transformation point (G′ = G″), and the fluid-like region (G′ < G″) [37]. The temperature of the solid-liquid transformation point can be used to characterize the difficulty degree of delamination for CFF/PPS composite. It can be also found from Table 3 that the transformation point gradually shifts to high temperature with the increment of CFF content. In the case of high CFF content, the CFF in CFF/PPS composite occupies the dominant part and the deformation degree of CFs is much less than that of PPS resin. This results in the difficulty of deformation of the composite.
Fig. 5

Rheological properties of CFF/PPS composites as a function of temperature

Table 3

The relationship between T(G′ = G″) and the average thickness of PPS resin layers in CFF/PPS composite


The surface density of PPS nonwoven (g/cm2)

The average thickness of PPS resin layers (μm)

T(G′ = G″) (°C)

CFF/PPS-60 wt%




CFF/PPS-70 wt%




CFF/PPS-80 wt%



303.3, 316.0

The addition of high content CFF in CFF/PPS composite has a certain inhibitory effect on the interlamination delamination. At the same time, for CFF/PPS composite, high content of CFF can raise more interface layers and thus to effectively suppress crack propagation when subjected to external force [38] and plays an important role in the improvement of its mechanical properties.

3.5 Failure mechanism of CFF/PPS composite

Figure 6 (a)–(f) show the optical microscope images of the cross section of CFF/PPS composite. It can be clearly found that there are CF bundles penetrating the resin layers between adjacent CFFs, and the CFs seem to contact each other. Besides, the distance between CFFs in CFF/PPS composite decreases further with increasing the CFF content, suggesting that the average thickness of the PPS resin layer decreases gradually, as shown in Table 3. Thus, the contacting of CFs in the resin layers with CFFs becomes easy and the riveting effect emerges in the PPS composite with ultra-high content of CFFs. When the crack propagates, the rivets will be pulled apart from the interfacial bonding area, which improves the fracture toughness. With CFF content increasing, more rivet points are introduced in the resin layer. In this case, more energy is needed to overcome when the cracks extend to the interface between the resin layer and the CF bundles, thus strengthening the mechanical properties [39]. This riveting effect can strengthen the bonding among the internal interfaces of CFF/PPS composite. Meanwhile, it also reduces the delamination damage, causing the bonding between the layers of CFFs more stable [40, 41]. This agrees with the above rheological analysis. Therefore, CFF/PPS composites with ultra-high content of CFFs exhibit excellent mechanical properties. The riveting effect among CFFs makes vital efforts on promoting the mechanical properties of CFF/PPS composites.
Fig. 6

Schematic diagram of failure mechanism and optical microscope images of cross sections of CFF/PPS composites. (a) CFF/PPS-60 wt%. (b) CFF/PPS-65 wt%. (c) CFF/PPS-70 wt%. (d) CFF/PPS-75 wt%. (e) CFF/PPS-80 wt%. (f) CFF/PPS-85 wt% and the crack propagation on the CFF/PPS composite surface subjected to flexural load. (a1) CFF/PPS-60 wt%. (b1) CFF/PPS-65 wt%. (c1) CFF/PPS-70 wt%. (d1) CFF/PPS-75 wt%. (e1) CFF/PPS-80 wt%. (f1) CFF/PPS-85 wt%

Figure 6 (a1)–(f1) exhibit the crack propagation path under an optical microscope. It can be found that the fracture of CFF/PPS composite presents a crack growth of straight line with containing less than 65 wt% CFF content. Differently, a “Z-form” crack growth was observed in the flexural section of CFF/PPS composite with 65 wt% and 75 wt% CFF content. This is mainly attributed to the enhancement of riveting effect among CFFs. When the cracks extend to those riveted areas, the propagation paths are deflected to a relatively weak interface or matrix along a different direction. Subsequently, the propagation path deflects again in the case that the crack encounters those riveted regions again and eventually results in the appearance of “Z-form” crack. This type of “ Z-form “ crack can effectively restrain the crack growth rate, so that the crack growth can be effectively restrained, which is similar to some works [42, 43].

However, the crack propagation path of zipper-like was observed for the sample of CFF/PPS-80 wt% composite. The crack growth along the vertical direction of the main crack exhibited a shorter crack length without additional large damage area. The reason for this phenomenon can be explained that the decrease of resin layer between CFFs results in enormous riveting effect, and more strengthening areas are produced. It is expected to induce bigger deflection in the process of the crack propagation [44]. In this case, fiber cracks are bound to propagate directly to the matrix at the relatively strong interfaces. Therefore, the CFF/PPS composite can bear the load greatly, and the stress can be transferred effectively. The excellent mechanical properties of CFFs can be maximally exploited.

As for the CFF/PPS-85 wt% composite, a large area of serious destruction was observed after the sample was suffered fracture, as shown in Fig. 4 (f). It can be explained that the lack of PPS infiltration to the CFFs causes the poor interface and the serious stripping phenomenon. In this case, the CFF/PPS composite exhibits a considerable area of failure. The interfacial debonding and delamination failure are the main fracture modes of CFF/PPS composite. The crack propagation cannot be effectively inhibited, resulting in poor mechanical properties of composite.

3.6 Electrical properties of CFF/PPS composites

As a vital characteristic, the conductive properties of CFF/PPS composite are evaluated to expand its application in electron device. The conductive properties of CFF/PPS composite are given in Fig. 7. As a function of CFF content, the conductivity of CFF/PPS composites increases gradually. The CFF/PPS-80 wt% composite exhibits good conductive properties. The volume resistivity, conductivity, and surface resistivity reach to 1.3 × 10−2 Ω·cm, 74.9 S/cm and 1.2 × 10−1 Ω·□ respectively. Evidently, with the increasing of the CFF content, the connection between CFF layers will be available to generate, resulting in the establishment of conductive network in the interior of CFF/PPS composite. The riveting effort is responsible for the conductive performance. On the other hand, the ultra-high content of CFFs existing in the CFF/PPS composites decreases the thickness of PPS resin. More contact points exist between CFF layers and the conductive paths are formed in the whole CFF/PPS composite [45]. Consequently, the CFF/PPS composite containing ultra-high content of CFFs shows higher conductive performance. The application of the CFF/PPS composite can be extended in the field of aerospace and military.
Fig. 7

Conductive mechanism and properties of CFF/PPS composite

4 Conclusions

In this work, PPS nonwoven prepared by the melt-blown method and CFF were thermally laminated to obtain the rigid CFF/PPS composites. By controlling the specification of PPS nonwoven, the thickness of PPS resin between CFFs can be decreased to a relatively low level. In this way, PPS composite composed of ultra-high content of CFFs was successfully fabricated. The tensile, flexural, and impact properties and ILSS as well as conductive performance of CFF/PPS composite are strengthened greatly when compared to those with low content of CFFs (< 60 wt%). The increase of interfacial layer and riveting effect between CFFs simultaneously prevents the crack propagation, thus greatly improving the mechanical properties of CFF/PPS composite. The approach in this work is a novel and simple strategy to produce high-performance FRTPs with high content of reinforcement fabrics. Furthermore, this method may be possible in manufacturing various heteromorphic composites in virtue of the flexibility of nonwoven and reinforced fiber fabric.


Funding information

This work was supported by the National Science and Technology Support Program (2015BAE01B04).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liang Zhao
    • 1
  • Qizhong Ge
    • 1
  • Jiuxiao Sun
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jiashun Peng
    • 1
  • Xianze Yin
    • 1
  • Leping Huang
    • 1
  • Jihui Wang
    • 2
  • Hua Wang
    • 3
  • Luoxin Wang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Materials Science and Engineering, Key Laboratory of Textile Fiber and Products (Ministry of Education)Wuhan Textile UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Advanced Technology for Materials Synthesis and ProcessingWuhan University of TechnologyWuhanChina
  3. 3.High-Tech Organic Fibers Key Laboratory of Sichuan ProvinceSichuan Textile Science Research InstituteChengduChina

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