Sheet molding compound is a material composed of a polyester thermosetting matrix with a thermo-plastic, an inorganic filler, a metal oxide, reinforcement fibers, and material performance enhancers embedded in the crosslinked matrix. To achieve the optimum mechanical properties required for the composite material, the surface free energy of the polyester composite needs to be understood. In this study, the composite matrix and glass reinforcement fibers are compared with respect to their surface free energy and acid-base characteristics on the basis of inverse gas chromatography measurements. The inverse gas chromatography results for the matrix and glass are compared to previous results found for sized and unsized cellulosic fibers. The inverse gas chromatography data are used to assess chemical modifications performed on the bio-based fibers to predict improvements in the fiber/matrix interaction, and this provides inferences on the overall composite cohesion. Our results show first that any fiber reinforcement system for the polyester composite material has to be acidic to promote good adhesion as the matrix system is very basic and second that the individual dispersive surface energies of the components of the matrix interact in a weighted average to determine the overall surface energy of the composite. Also, a commercial glass reinforcement sized for polyester has been found to have a lower interaction parameter than literature values for cellulosic fibers. This finding suggests that cellulosic fibers might have an advantage in competing with a conventional glass-fiber reinforcement system in fiber/matrix bonding for sheet molding compound composites.
- Composites; surfaces