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Mechanical Behavior of Sandwich Structures using Natural Cork Agglomerates as Core Materials

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Cork is a material of great value to the Portuguese economy. Unfortunately, its use is still restricted to traditional areas, with the agglomerate form in particular not being used to its full potential. The objective of this article is to analyze the viability of using cork-based material as core materials in sandwich structures in aeronautical and aerospace applications. The use of cork-based material is proposed because of its isolation properties (both thermal and acoustic) and there is no significant performance loss, when compared with the currently used materials. It presents other advantages, as well as, less wastage of energy in manufacturing and a better environmental integration, both in the transformation stage and in the end of life recycling stage. The objective of this work is to study the mechanical behavior of different sandwich specimens, with carbon/epoxy faces, and cores of different cork agglomerates and their comparison with the results obtained with similar specimens using current material cores. Experimental shear tests and three-point bending tests were carried out and the evolutions of the load— displacement curves of the different cork agglomerates/sandwiches were analyzed and discussed. The obtained results show that significant room for improvement still exists in use of cork-based core materials.
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