This work shows the fractographic study of fractured surfaces resulted from tensile tests of thermoplastic composites based on poly(propylene-co-ethylene) (PP-PE) and modified PP-PE copolymers reinforced with continuous carbon fibers (CF). The PP-PE matrix was modified with two agents called AM1 (based on maleic anhydride) and AM2 (containing an elastomeric agent), respectively. Three different laminates - CF/PP-PE, CF/PP-PE(AM1) and CF/PP-PE(AM2) - were manufactured. The best tensile strength and elastic modulus results were determined for the CF/PP-PE(AM1) laminate (507.6 ± 11.8 MPa and 54.7 ± 2.4 GPa, respectively). These results show that the AM1 agent contributed to increase the physicochemical interaction between the CF and the PP-PE matrix. This condition provided a better loading transfer from matrix to the reinforcement. Scanning electron microscopy analyses of the fracture surfaces show the fractographic aspects of the samples and allow evaluating the fiber/matrix-interfacial adhesion. Poor adhesion is observed for the CF/PP-PE and CF/PP-PE(AM2) laminates with the presence of fiber impressions on the polymer rich regions and fiber surfaces totally unprotected of polymer matrix. On the other side, a more consistent adhesion is observed for the CF/PP-PE(AM1) laminate. This result is in agreement with the tensile test data and show the presence of a good interaction between the laminate constituents. The correlation of the mechanical and fractographic results with the curves of complex viscosity versus temperature of the studied polymer matrices shows that the matrix viscosity did not affect the wettability of the reinforcement.
fractography; thermoplastic composite; carbon fiber; PP-PE