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Experimental Testing for Material Model Calibration of a Thermoset

Introduction

In this article I will give my recommendations for what experiments to run if you want to calibrate a material model for a thermoset polymer (epoxy, PSA, or other adhesive). I have found a lot of misinformation about this, and here I will try to give a modern answer to this. To make my recommendations are useful as possible, I divided them into 3 different applications:

Dynamic (Frequency) Loading

  • Frequency domain FE simulations
  • Super small strains (<1%)

Slow Monotonic Loading

  • Time domain simulations
  • Monotonic loading at one strain rate
  • Finite strains

General Loading

  • Time domain simulations
  • Any strain history
  • Finite strains

In the following sections I will propose test plans for each of these applications.

Dynamic (Frequency) Loading

Run the following Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA) tests:

  • First perform a strain amplitude sweep at constant frequency (about 1 Hz). This is used to establish the strain range in which the material response is strain amplitude independent. The material will be linear viscoelastic only in this strain range.
  • Run a frequency sweep in order to measure the storage modulus (E’) and loss modulus (E’’) data.
  • Repeat the frequency sweeps at different temperatures if you are interested in calibrating a WLF or Arrhenius type time-temperature superposition (TTS) model.

The results from these tests can be used to calibrate a linear viscoelastic material model.

DMA Test Machine

Slow Monotonic Loading

Run the following monotonic uniaxial tension tests:

  • Uniaxial tension using a dog-bone shaped specimen (e.g. ASTM D638 Type IV).
  • Deform the specimen to failure.
  • Repeat the test 2 to 3 times using different specimens (in order to determine the experimental variability).

This data can be used to calibrate an rate-independent plasticity model with damage initiation and evolution.

General Loading

Run the following cyclic uniaxial tension tests:

  • Load to 0.5% strain, hold the strain for 1 min, unload to a force that is close to 0;
  • then continue to load to 1% strain, hold the strain for 1 to 10 min, unload to a force that is close to 0;
  • then continue to load to 2% strain, hold the strain for 1 to 10 min, unload to a force that is close to 0;
  • finally either load to failure in tension, or unload to zero.
  • Repeat this experiment 2-3 times (using different specimens) in order to determine the experimental repeatability.
  • The testing should be performed using ASTM D638 type IV (or similar) dogbone-shaped specimens.
  • All loading and unloading should be performed at a constant engineering strain rate of about 0.01/s to 0.1/s.

This data can be used to calibrate an I1-based non-linear viscoplastic material model (like the PolyUMod TNV model)

  • Repeat the testing at multiple temperatures if needed.
  • Use MCalibration to calibrate a suitable material model to experimental data.
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