Reducing the Weakening Effect in Fibre-Reinforced Polymers Caused by Integrated Film Sensors
Integrating foil sensors into fibre-reinforced plastics offers the advantage of making manufacturing measurable with spatial resolution and thus simplifies quality control. One challenge here is the possible negative influence of the integrated sensors on the mechanical behaviour of the structure. This article shows how the different parts of a film sensor influence important mechanical strength parameters of fibre composites. A comparison of two thermoplastic carrier films shows that by choosing polyetherimide (PEI) instead of polyimide (PI), a considerably more advantageous failure behaviour of the composite is achieved. While integrated PI films reduce the interlaminar shear strength by 68%, no impairment is noticeable due to PEI films. For the critical energy release rate, PEI-based film sensors even lead to a significant increase, while a significant deterioration of 85% can be observed for PI-based sensors. However, not only the film substrate plays a decisive role for the interlaminar shear strength, but also the sensor structures themselves. In this article, sensor structures made of gold were investigated. The decisive parameter for the impairment seems to be the area share of gold structures in the sensor. For a sensor pattern made of gold lines with an area filling of 50%, a reduction of the interlaminar shear strength of up to 25% was observed depending on the angle between the shear stress and the gold lines. No impairment was observed for sensor structures with less gold area. The results show that PEI substrates can be a superior alternative for sensor integration into fibre composites and suggest that there is a trade-off between sensitivity and degradation of mechanical properties when designing interdigital sensors.