Research Papers

Modeling the Large Deformation and Microstructure Evolution of Nonwoven Polymer Fiber Networks

[+] Author and Article Information
Mang Zhang, Fu-pen Chiang

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
State University of New York at Stony Brook,
Stony Brook, NY 11794

Yuli Chen

Institute of Solid Mechanics,
Beihang University (BUAA),
Beijing 100191, China

Pelagia Irene Gouma

Department of Materials
Science and Engineering,
The Ohio State University,
Columbus, OH 43210

Lifeng Wang

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
State University of New York at Stony Brook,
Stony Brook, NY 11794
e-mail: Lifeng.wang@stonybrook.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Applied Mechanics Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF APPLIED MECHANICS. Manuscript received July 11, 2018; final manuscript received October 1, 2018; published online November 2, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Haleh Ardebili.

J. Appl. Mech 86(1), 011010 (Nov 02, 2018) (10 pages) Paper No: JAM-18-1400; doi: 10.1115/1.4041677 History: Received July 11, 2018; Revised October 01, 2018

The electrospinning process enables the fabrication of randomly distributed nonwoven polymer fiber networks with high surface area and high porosity, making them ideal candidates for multifunctional materials. The mechanics of nonwoven networks has been well established for elastic deformations. However, the mechanical properties of the polymer fibrous networks with large deformation are largely unexplored, while understanding their elastic and plastic mechanical properties at different fiber volume fractions, fiber aspect ratio, and constituent material properties is essential in the design of various polymer fibrous networks. In this paper, a representative volume element (RVE) based finite element model with long fibers is developed to emulate the randomly distributed nonwoven fibrous network microstructure, enabling us to systematically investigate the mechanics and large deformation behavior of random nonwoven networks. The results show that the network volume fraction, the fiber aspect ratio, and the fiber curliness have significant influences on the effective stiffness, effective yield strength, and the postyield behavior of the resulting fiber mats under both tension and shear loads. This study reveals the relation between the macroscopic mechanical behavior and the local randomly distributed network microstructure deformation mechanism of the nonwoven fiber network. The model presented here can also be applied to capture the mechanical behavior of other complex nonwoven network systems, like carbon nanotube networks, biological tissues, and artificial engineering networks.

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Fig. 2

A spatially periodic RVE: (a) the undeformed RVE and (b) the deformed RVE with three of its periodic neighbors. The periodic points A and B have reference coordinates X(A) and X(B).

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Fig. 1

Randomly distributed nonwoven polymer fiber networks: (a) representative SEM image of an electrospun PA6(3)T network (courtesy of Chia-Ling Pai) and (b)–(f) five RVE models generated with same fibers and geometries but by five different random routines

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Fig. 3

Mechanical response of the random nonwoven fibrous network under uniaxial tensile loading where N = 40 and l = 0.4 mm: (a) effective stress versus effective strain, (b) effective transverse strain versus effective axial strain showing a nonlinear behavior with ratio greater than 1 after 0.05 effective strain, (c) average network porosity change during loading, and (d) von Mises stress contour for A, B, C, and D points marked in (a), respectively

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Fig. 4

(a)–(f) Typical local deformation mechanisms of microstructure evolution in the fibrous network RVE under tensile loading and (g) original network microstructure and deformed network microstructure with highlights of six typical deformation mechanisms, where N = 60 and l = 0.6 mm

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Fig. 5

Mechanical response of the random nonwoven fibrous network under cyclic uniaxial tensile loading (N = 40 and l = 0.4 mm): (a) the stress–strain curve, (b) evolution of the normalized Young's modulus for reloading after each uniaxial tensile cycle, and (c) von Mises stress contour for the initial network, as well as B, C, and D points marked in (a), which are the relaxed networks after the first, third, and fifth cycles, respectively

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Fig. 12

The RVE size effect and boundary condition effect on the network Young's modulus

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Fig. 9

Mechanical response of random nonwoven fibrous networks with different fiber aspect ratios under uniaxial tensile loading (fv = 14.14% and 18.85%): (a) effect of fiber aspect ratio on the stress–strain curves for fv = 14.14%, (b) effect of fiber aspect ratio on the transverse strain for fv = 14.14%, (c) effect of fiber aspect ratio on the stress–strain curves for fv = 18.85%, (d) effect of fiber aspect ratio on the transverse strain for fv = 18.85%, and (e) and (f) the initial network microstructure for fiber aspect ratio λ = 500, 333, and 167, while fv = 14.14% and 18.85%, respectively

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Fig. 10

(a) Normalized Young's modulus of the network as a function of fiber aspect ratio and (b) normalized yield stress of the network as a function of fiber aspect ratio

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Fig. 11

Mechanical response of random nonwoven fibrous networks with different fiber aspect ratios under uniaxial tensile loading: (a) the stress–strain curves with fiber radians of 0, 0.4, and 0.8, (b) the effective transverse strain, and (c) the schematic diagram of fibrous networks with different fiber radian α

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Fig. 6

Mechanical response of the random nonwoven fibrous network under simple shear loading (l = 0.5 mm, N = 72 and 48): (a) the initial network geometry for RVEs with fv= 18.85% and fv= 14.14%, (b) the shear stress–strain response of the two RVEs under simple shear, and (c) the corresponding deformed configurations with von Mises stress distribution at different levels of shear strain

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Fig. 7

Mechanical response of random nonwoven fibrous networks with different volume fractions under uniaxial tensile loading (fv varies from 9.42% to 23.56%): (a) effect of volume fraction on the stress–strain curves, (b) effect of volume fraction on the transverse strain, and (c) the corresponding microstructures and von Mises stress distribution for six points marked in (a)

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Fig. 8

(a) Normalized Young's modulus of networks with different fiber volume fractions of present simulation and other experimental results [2628,35] and (b) the normalized yield stress of networks with different fiber volume fractions



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