The beneficial effect of materials with high aspect ratio as composite reinforcement has prompted continuous interest towards cellulosic fibers. Besides providing stiffness, fibers can potentially contribute to composite extensibility. While mechanical treatments are typically used to adjust the physical and surface properties of fibers, less is known about ensuing effects on their extensibility and that of associated networks. Fiber network dimensional extensibility of 16% was achieved by processing the precursor aqueous fiber dispersions following a simple mechanical treatment with a judicious combination of low (PFI refining) and high concentrations and temperatures (Wing defibrator). Consequently, deformation of fibers and increased inter-fiber bonding resulted in a three-fold increase in strength to rupture of the fiber network leading to the structures with unprecedented toughness.
- Mechanical treatment