In-Situ Strain Measurements in Large Volumes of Hardening Epoxy Using Optical Backscatter Reflectometry
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionApplied Sciences. 2018, 8 . 10.3390/app8071141
Some large engineering structures are made by casting polymers into a mold. The structures can have complicated geometries and may be filled with other components, such as electrical transformers. This study investigated casting of large components made of epoxy. Epoxy is easy to pour, bonds well and has relatively low cure shrinkage. However, the cure shrinkage can lead to significant stresses or strains, causing large deformations that can lead to cracks.Understanding the curing process and related shrinkage is important for designing molds and controlling the production process. This study applied a new experimental method to measure strains due to cure shrinkage allowing many accurate local measurements along the length of an optical measurement fiber. The method is based on Optical Backscatter Reflectometry. Six distinct stages of the curing process can be identified. Previous measurements were limited to a few point measurements in small samples. This paper shows cure shrinkage in large samples and identifies some unexpected changes in behavior when going from small to large specimens. The behavior is explained qualitatively.