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International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology (IJMET) Volume 10, Issue 03, March 2019, pp. 12631274, Article ID: IJMET_10_03_129 Available online at http://www.iaeme.com/ijmet/issues.asp?JType=IJMET&VType=10&IType=3 ISSN Print: 0976-6340 and ISSN Online: 0976-6359

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0976-6340 and ISSN Online: 0976-6359 © IAEME Publication Scopus Indexed A LITERATURE REVIEW ON PROCESSING AND

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Divakara Shetty S Dean (Academics), Mangalore Institute of Technology & Engineering (MITE), Badaga Mijar, Near Moodabidre- 574 225, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Nagaraja Shetty* Assistant Professor-Senior Scale, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal- 576 104, Karnataka, India

ABSTRACT Epoxy has been often used with reinforcements due to its brittle nature. Various reinforcing agents have provided a multitude of composites with their own unique characteristics. Graphene is perhaps one of the most inspiring discoveries in the field of science and technology since its potential applications are limitless due to its admirable properties. It is basically an allotrope of carbon, a single layer of atoms bonded in a honeycomb lattice. Among the various other nano fillers, graphene has been used as reinforce epoxy which is then further strengthened with alumina. Composites have been designed and redesigned throughout the years, developing more and more advanced materials for engineering applications. But there’s always a need for a material with higher performance at lower cost in every aspect of technology. The aim of this review is to put forth information regarding the materials used for developing a hybrid composite using alumina, graphene and epoxy. This is done in order to boost the performance of the existing epoxy resin, which will be then tested for its mechanical characteristics. The result of the experiment will be compared with a standard specimen consisting of graphene and epoxy. The materials and their properties, along with tests conducted on them are covered in this paper.

Key words: Alumina, Epoxy, Graphene, Mechanical properties, Nanocomposite, Synthesis.

Cite this Article: Divakara Shetty S and Nagaraja Shetty, A Literature Review on Processing and Testing of Mechanical Properties of Hybrid Composites Using Graphene/Epoxy with Alumina, International Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Technology 10(3), 2019, pp. 12631274.





A Literature Review on Processing and Testing of Mechanical Properties of Hybrid Composites Using Graphene/Epoxy with Alumina


1.1. Composites

Composites consist of fibers which serve as the backbone, and matrix, which holds the fibers together. The advantages of composites are their high strength and stiffness, along with low density which results in reduced weight of the component (Madhujit, 2005). Every combination doesn’t work out and each combination of materials has its own pros and cons. That’s why research on composites will never come to a halt. The main composition of a composite consists of a matrix and reinforcement. Reinforcement can be of different types. Based on their shapes, they can be fibers, particulate, flakes, skeletal or laminar. Considering the direction and placement of fibers, reinforcement can also be classified as continuous fiber composite, woven fiber composite, chopped fiber composite and hybrid composite (Agarwal, 2018; Vijay et al.,


There are 5 forms of composites, namely, Polymer Matrix Composites (PMCs), Metal Matrix Composites (MMCs), Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs), Carbon-Carbon (CC) and Hybrid Composites (HCs) which is a combination of the earlier mentioned composite types. According to studies, the most prominently used fibers in 2001 were glass fibers. E-glass fibers were the most commonly used glass fibers and accounted for 90% of the total glass fibers used. S-glass fibers constituted the rest 10% and are typically 50-70% stronger than E-glass fibers, which made them the ideal reinforcement in military applications. Recent years have seen a lot of changes in composites. Aramid fibers and carbon are two other types of fibers which are growing in popularity and usage due to their excellent properties and feasibility. Matrix is the binding material which holds the fiber together in the composite, providing it support and protection (Madhujit, 2005). It also helps to evenly distribute the load that falls on the composite onto the fibers. Some of the most commonly used matrix materials are epoxy, polyester, nylon, PVC and polyethylene. A comparison between their properties is shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Properties of common matrix materials


Density (kg/m 3 )






α (10 -6 /°C)























































Where, E t and E c are the moduli of elasticity for tensile and compression respectively, σ t and σ c are the ultimate strengths, v is the Poisson’s ratio and α is the coefficient of thermal expansion.

1.2. Synthesis

Fabrication of composites involves wetting, mixing or saturating the reinforcement with the matrix. This causes the matrix to stick together and become rigid. There are multiple techniques to fabricating a composite. The type of materials used for the composite also is a factor in




Divakara Shetty S and Nagaraja Shetty

determining the process of fabrication. Some of the prominent techniques used for fabricating the composite are:

The Lamination technique is usually used for materials like glass fiber, wood, foil and plastic which are coated with thermoset or thermoplastic resin. There are 4 types of lamination techniques the overlay method, vacuum bagging, pressure molds and hybrid method. Picking a technique for fabricating a composite depends on the number of identical products you need, how much time can be allotted for the fabrication, and the cost of production (Sanjay 2001). Pultrusion is a closed mold, continuous process that is very cost effective for high volumes of production. This technique mainly deals with parts which have a constant cross section. As shown in Figure 1, the this process is generally contains pulling of continuous fibers through a bath of resin, blended with a catalyst and then into pre-forming fixtures where the section is partially pre-shaped & excess resin is removed. It is then passed through a heated die, which determines the sectional geometry and finish of the final product (Joshi, 2012)

geometry and finish of the final product (Joshi, 2012) Figure 1 Pultrusion process flow diagram Filament

Figure 1 Pultrusion process flow diagram

Filament winding is another popular fabrication technique where reinforcements are continuous in the form of rovings or monofilaments, and are would over cylindrical a rotating mandrel (Cohen, 1997). This is a fairly simple technique used to manufacture structures like pipes, pressure vessels, etc. a number of rovings are pulled from multiple creels and are spread our using combs. Then they are sent through a resin bath after which they are grouped back up into a band. This band passes through a fiber feed which moves back and forth along the length of the mandrel. Multiple layers of fiber can be stacked to provide the necessary thickness for the part to be manufactured (Giacoletto, 2002).

1.3. Current applications

Due to their high strength to weight ratio and cost effectiveness, along with a set of other beneficial properties, composites have found their applications in almost every sector of the technological field. Their applications range from fuselages and propellers for aerospace to everyday items like fishing rods and baseball bats. For example, companies like Tata Auto Comp Systems Limited Composites Division use reinforced plastics in truck bodies and trailers, which are very light and have low heat transfer coefficient. This makes the manufacturing substantially economical. Carbon fibers have found their applications in luxury and sports cars due to their lightweight and high strength to weigh ratio (Compos, 2013). Kevlar is used for military applications due to its very high strength and lightweight, used to reinforce vehicles and body suits (Tham et al., 2008). It is also used in pipes and fittings for various purposes like transportation of water for sewage or irrigation. There are numerous types of composites being produced and the possibilities are endless.





A Literature Review on Processing and Testing of Mechanical Properties of Hybrid Composites Using Graphene/Epoxy with Alumina

Carbon has many allotropes, some that were discovered long ago (diamond and graphite) and some discovered 10-20 years ago (fullerenes and nanotubes). Interestingly, the two- dimensional form (graphene) was only obtained very recently, bringing about a great deal of change in our current science (Mikhail, 2007). Graphene has a number of remarkable mechanical and electrical properties. It is significantly stronger than steel, and it is very flexible. The thermal and electrical conductivity is very high. Graphene’s excellent thermal, mechanical, and electronic properties make it one of the most favored materials for filling agents in composite materials and its applications. Graphene nanocomposites show substantial enhancements in their multifunctional aspects at low loading, in comparison with conventional composites and materials (Vivek Dhand et al., 2013). This makes the material lighter with simple processing, as well as increasing mechanical strength for various applications. Figure 2, shows an interpretation of graphene's uniform structure at the molecular scale

of graphene's uniform structure at the molecular scale Figure 2 A rendering of graphene's uniform structure,

Figure 2 A rendering of graphene's uniform structure, at the molecular scale.

2.1. Tests Conducted on Graphene

The physical and chemical properties of the host matrix are upgraded upon embedding due to the exceptional properties of graphene. This leads to enhancement of strength and bonding between layers of graphene and host matrix, which in turn develops the cumulative properties of graphene in its nanocomposites (Kuilla et al., 2010). Jang and Zhamu (2008) reviewed the paper about processing of graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) to create composite materials. It describes the earlier processes used to produce multilayer nanoscale graphene platelets and their composites, followed by recent developments in preparation of single layered nanoscale graphene platelets and their composites (Jang & Zhamu, 2008). Mack et al. (2005) developed nanocomposites of polyacrylonitrile (PAN) nanofibers reinforced by GNP, which they exhibited to increased mechanical properties (Mack & Viculis, 2005). Yu et al. (2007) spotted that graphene nanocomposites containing epoxy resin shows interesting characteristics for the electronic industries. This means thermal interface based materials is favored for fabrication (Yu et al., 2007). Research by Hansma et al. (2007) demonstrated successfully to create graphene-based nanocomposites. They maximized the amount and combination of adhesives and high-strength nanostructures (i.e. graphene) needed to yield a strong, lightweight, low-density, and to resist damage of composite material (Hansma et al., 2007). Dikin et al. (2007) prepared a graphene oxide paper which was fabricated by flow directed assembly of single layers of graphene oxide sheets and characterization was performed. The graphene oxide sheets clearly outclassed almost every other paper-like material when it came to stiffness and strength (Dikin et al., 2007).




Divakara Shetty S and Nagaraja Shetty

Chen et al. (2008) fabricated graphene paper with a layered structure using vacuum filtration of well-dispersed graphene dispersion. This was then treated to thermal annealing that resulted in greater electrical conductivity and mechanical properties (Chen et al., 2008). Tests conducted by Changgu Lee. et al. (2008) reveal some interesting values when monolayer graphene was tested for its elastic properties and intrinsic strength. The breaking strength was found to be 42 Nm -1 , Young’s modulus of 1 terapascal, inherent strength of 130 GPa and 3 rd order elastic stiffness of -2 terapascals. The fact that graphene is one of the strongest, if not the strongest material, to have been measured, was set in stone (Changgu Lee. et al., 2008). A study conducted by M. A. Rafiee et al. (2009) consisted of measurement of mechanical properties of nanocomposites at low graphene content. The results showed that the Young’s modulus of the nanocomposite was around 31% more than pristine epoxy, 40% increase in tensile strength and 53% increase in fracture toughness. This stands to prove graphene’s claim as one of the most exciting material discovered yet (Rafiee et al., 2009). Diana Berman et al. added small amounts of ethanol solution which contained graphene onto sliding steel surfaces. This resulted in reduction of friction coefficient and wear by a huge amount, thus concluding graphene incorporation to reduce wear is very efficient (Diana Berman et al., 2013). Lee et al. (2013) adopted cryomilling to fabricate tiny particulate graphene and chitosan. A composite material was formed when a mixture of these two were formed by sonication and reinforcement. The graphene particles exhibited a progressive nature which resulted in development of the mechanical properties of the composite. A decrease in lumping of graphene while mixing was also seen (Lee et al., 2013).

2.2. Fabrication of Graphene

There are plenty of methods to fabricate graphene, but two main techniques have been debated here, namely, mechanical exfoliation of graphene from bulk graphite and graphitization of epitaxially grown SiC crystals. Graphene obtained from these two techniques are similar to each other but their physical properties tend to differ, although not by a huge margin. But since exact specifications are needed for work regarding the material, it is necessary to indicate the type of graphene being used (Xinran wang & Yi Shi, 2014). 2.2.1. Exfoliation Technique Exfoliation is one of the most commonly used methods to obtain graphene from graphite, and it includes extracting a single layer of carbon atoms through various means. Some of these developments are discussed below. Adhesive Tape Adhesive tapes were used to separate layers of graphite into graphene. Multiple exfoliations were needed to obtain single layers. Each exfoliation produced a slice with fewer layers, until only one remains. Crystallites large enough to be seen by the naked eye are obtained (Geim & Macdonald, 2007). The schematic representation of exfoliation process is shown in Fig. 3.




A Literature Review on Processing and Testing of Mechanical Properties of Hybrid Composites Using Graphene/Epoxy with Alumina

of Hybrid Composites Using Graphene/Epoxy with Alumina Figure 3 Schematic representation of exfoliation process

Figure 3 Schematic representation of exfoliation process Dispersion of graphite

Graphene can be prepared in liquid phase. The most effective technique would be the scattering of graphite in an organic solvent with surface energy nearly as much as graphite. This causes a detachment of a layer of graphene from the crystal due to the reduced energy barrier. After a bit more refining, it produces graphene of very high quality (Lotya et al., 2010).

2.2.2. Growth on surface Another approach to fabricating graphene is by growing it directly on a surface. There are two ways in which the growth can occur. The carbon is either added to the surface using Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) or it should already exist in the substrate. Epitaxial Growth

The development of epitaxial graphene on SiC is based on thermal decomposition of the SiC substrate. A review of recent publications indicates that the domain size of epitaxial graphene grown in UHV wouldn’t be greater than hundred nanometers (Hass et al., 2008). Chemical Vapor Deposition

Chemical Vapor Deposition consists of a substrate which is subjected to different gaseous compounds. Thin films are formed on the surface when the compounds decompose. The by- products evaporate. This process can be applied to graphene by exposing a Ni film to a mixture of H 2, CH 4 and Argon at 1000°C (Kim, 2009).


Epoxy resins are well known for their excellent electrical properties and chemical resistance, high strength and low moisture absorption (Allaoui et al., 2002). They are particularly known for their versatility, which includes high resistance to corrosion, good adhesion properties, good strength to weight ratios and decent dimensional stability. Resins usually have relatively high viscosity, thus they are molded at 50°-100° (Arita et al., 2012). Curing agents (hardeners) are used to reduce viscosity so that lamination at room temperature is possible. Epoxies are frequently used in aerospace and defense, chemical plants and high performance automotive applications.

3.1. Properties of Epoxy




Divakara Shetty S and Nagaraja Shetty

According to Reis et al. (2012), increasing the temperature of epoxy leads to significant loss in flexural strength. Thus it can be concluded that flexural strength varies inversely with temperature (Reis et al., 2012). Nakamura et al. conducted an experiment to determine the influence of particle size on mechanical and impact properties of epoxy resin filled with spherical silica. It was concluded that flexural strength, tensile strength and impact absorbed energy increases with decrease in particle size (Nakamura et al., 1992). Some of the mechanical properties of epoxy resin are cited in Table 2. It is observed from the Table 2 that the values, epoxy’s mechanical properties aren’t very exceptional and contribute to its brittleness in solid state.

Table 2 Mechanical properties of epoxy (Fan et al., 2007; Zhang et al., 2015; Ghaemy and Riahi,


Properties of Epoxy Resin



Modulus of Elasticity E (GPa)


Flexural Strength (MPa)


Tensile Strength (MPa)


Maximum Elongation (%)


Viscosity at 25°C (cP)


Density (g/cm 3 )



Alumina is also an abundantly available mineral in earth’s crust, apart from silicates. Corundum is the most common naturally occurring crystalline form of aluminum oxide. It appears in nature as rocks which are then ground into fine powder as shown in Figure 4. Due to its hardness, it is used as an abrasive in the production of aluminum metal, and because of its high melting point, it is also used as a refractory material.

melting point, it is also used as a refractory material. Figure 4 Industry grade alumina 4.1.

Figure 4 Industry grade alumina

4.1. Properties and applications of Alumina




A Literature Review on Processing and Testing of Mechanical Properties of Hybrid Composites Using Graphene/Epoxy with Alumina

Some of the properties of alumina include hardness and wear resistance, excellent dielectric properties from DC to GHz frequencies, good thermal conductivity, and high strength and stiffness. It also resists strong acid and alkali attack at high temperatures. Table 3 shows some of alumina’s thermal properties.

Table 3 Thermal properties of alumina (Patnaik, 2002; Raymond C Rowe et al., 2009; Zumdahl & Steven, 2009).

Properties of Alumina Powder



Melting Point


Boiling Point


Thermal Conductivity

30Wm -1 k -1


248.463mg/m 3

Specific Heat


Alumina has numerous applications in day-to-day life. It is used as fillers in plastics and is also a common ingredient in cosmetics (Draelos, 2012). It has chemical applications as a catalyst for many reactions (Faure et al., 2011). It is used to purify gas streams by removing water, and the crystals of aluminum oxide are also used as abrasives in sandpaper. Due to its shiny appearance, it is also used in paints for a reflective decorative effect. Aluminum oxide is an electrical insulator used as a substrate (silicon on sapphire) for integrated circuits but also as a tunnel barrier for the fabrication of superconducting devices such as single electron transistors and superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs) (Hussain et al., 2003; Ahmad et al., 2006).


This study shows the properties of graphene, epoxy and alumina in base form. The properties are then checked for compatibility for fabrication of a hybrid nano composite using these materials. Epoxy by itself when hardened, is very brittle and has properties which can be largely improved upon by incorporating other materials into it. This allows for the formation of an excellent composite with potential use for multitude of applications. Considering graphene, Figure 5 shows that the highest application of graphene is in electronics, namely, batteries, electrodes in touch screens, transistors for integrated circuits, and memory chips. This is due to its excellent electrical properties, lightweight and flexibility. Its applications in biomedical field include fast and efficient biometric sensory devices to monitor glucose levels, cholesterol and hemoglobin levels. This review covers the possible applications of the composite to be fabricated, in aerospace, military and automotive. While research on graphene is still ongoing, its potential applications in every sector are limitless.




Divakara Shetty S and Nagaraja Shetty

Divakara Shetty S and Nagaraja Shetty Figure 5 Applications chart for graphene companies REFERENCES [1] Agarwal,

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A Literature Review on Processing and Testing of Mechanical Properties of Hybrid Composites Using Graphene/Epoxy with Alumina

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