The present work describes the experimental mechanical characterisation of a natural flax fibre reinforced epoxy polymer composite. A commercial plain woven quasi-unidirectional flax fabric with spun-twisted yarns is employed in particular, as well as unidirectional composite panels manufactured with three techniques: hand-lay-up, vacuum bagging and resin infusion. The stiffness and strength behaviours are investigated under both monotonic and low-cycle fatigue loadings. The analysed material has, in particular, shown a typical bilinear behaviour under pure traction, with a knee yield point occurring at a rather low stress value, after which the material tensile stiffness is significantly reduced. In the present work, such a mechanism is investigated by a phenomenological approach, performing periodical loading/unloading cycles, and repeating tensile tests on previously “yielded” samples to assess the evolution of stiffness behaviour. Infrared thermography is also employed to measure the temperature of specimens during monotonic and cyclic loading. In the first case, the thermal signal is monitored to correlate departures from the thermoelastic behaviour with the onset of energy loss mechanisms. In the case of cyclic loading, the thermoelastic signal and the second harmonic component are both determined in order to investigate the extent of elastic behaviour of the material.
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