Damage accumulation in high performance synthetic fibre ropes
This thesis presents the results of an investigation into the process of damage and failure in small diameter high performance synthetic fibre ropes namely Dyneema, Vectran and Technora ropes. This study was prompted by a series of fatal accidents on paragliders as a result of the line failure. All the different rope materials, including the rope with cover, without cover and the core with different number of strands, have been tensile tested. The transfer of loading and subsequent damage in different rope constituents, fibres and strands, are also discussed. The residual strength of the rope after static and cyclic preloading regimes is discussed and possible mechanisms for the damage accumulation in the rope are given. The acoustic emission monitoring of the tensile and residual strength tests shows distinctive differences between the different types of rope and permits the identification of characteristic effects of preloading on the tensile damage and failure mechanisms of all three materials. The process of damage in the Dyneema and Vectran is similar, in which damage progresses in steps during the loading history whereas Technora rope accumulates gradual increase in damage until the catastrophic failure. The application of the static preloading improves the strength of Dyneema and Vectran ropes whereas it deteriorates the mechanical properties of Technora rope. The cyclic response of Dyneema rope shows a dramatic downturn at lives in excess of 1000 cycles, but moderate cyclic loading improves the strength. The variation in surface temperature of Dyneema rope during tensile loading has been measured analysed and related to the process of damage. Dyneema fibres melt and fuse together under loading, since Dyneema is disadvantaged by its low melting temperature. Rope on rope abrasion tests, carried out on covered and uncovered Dyneema and Technora ropes, show that Dyneema rope has superior abrasion properties compared to Technora. This is due to the low compression properties of Technora, as abrasion process involves compressing the fibres. The effect of exposure to different environments, including natural weathering, -22'C, +54'C and seawater on tensile performance is discussed. The tensile properties of the Dyneema ropes are little affected by the environmental conditioning except the effect of synthetic sea water, in which case the salt crystals damage the rope fibres, once the water has evaporated.