Influence of pressure-assisted polymerization on the microstructure and strength of polymer-infiltrated ceramics
A method of manufacturing polymer-infiltrated ceramics (PICs) is to pre-infiltrate a porous ceramic with a liquid monomer and subsequently polymerize the organic component inside the ceramic structure. The volume reduction during polymerization leads to the formation of pores (defects), which has a detrimental effect on the mechanical properties of PICs. To avoid the generation of defects, a new polymerization method that uses pressure during polymerization was developed. To investigate the influences of pressure and heating rate on strength and microstructure, both parameters were varied. The influences of both parameters on the strength of PICs were studied using a biaxial test. The influence on the microstructure was investigated through microscopy. Fracture toughness and R-curve behavior of the manufactured PICs were determined with the SEVNB method. The process parameters have a strong influence on strength and microstructure of PICs. Defect-free PICs with improved strength could be manufactured using elevated pressure during polymerization. As expected, a distinct R-curve behavior and enhanced fracture toughness relative to composites manufactured using conventional methods was found. The developed manufacturing method leads to defectless PICs with increased mechanic behaviors.