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Vol. 8. Issue 6.
Pages 5961-5971 (November - December 2019)
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Vol. 8. Issue 6.
Pages 5961-5971 (November - December 2019)
Original Article
DOI: 10.1016/j.jmrt.2019.09.071
Open Access
Natural-synthetic fiber reinforced homogeneous and functionally graded vinylester composites: Effect of bagasse-Kevlar hybridization on wear behavior
Tej Singha, Brijesh Gangilb,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
, Bharat Singhc, Shashi Kant Vermad, Don Biswase, Gusztáv Feketea
a Savaria Institute of Technology, Eötvös Loránd University, Szombathely 9700, Hungary
b Mechanical Engineering Department, H.N.B. Garhwal University, 246174, India
c Mechanical Engineering Department, Phonics Group of Institutions, Roorkee 247667, India
d Mechanical Engineering Department, I.E.T. B.U. Jhansi, 284127, India
e University Science Instrumentation Centre, H.N.B. Garhwal University, 246174, India
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Figures (11)
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Tables (7)
Table 1. Physical and mechanical properties of the selected materials.
Table 2. Detail of the composite composition and designation.
Table 3. Levels of the control factor used in the experiment.
Table 4. Experimental design.
Table 5. Experimental results and corresponding S-N ratio.
Table 6. S-N ratio response table for specific wear rate of graded and homogeneous composites.
Table 7. Outcomes of confirmation experiments.
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In this work, vinylester resin based and hybrid Kevlar-bagasse fiber reinforced homogeneous and graded composites were developed and evaluated for wear performance on a pin-on-disc machine. An orthogonal array (L16) was applied to examine the influence of four tribological control factors i.e. fiber content, normal load, sliding distance and sliding velocity. The experimental results indicate that normal load emerges as the most important factor affecting the wear rate of vinylester based graded and homogeneous composites with a contribution ratio of 36.33% and 32.09% respectively. Furthermore, composites worn surfaces were analyzed using scanning electron microscopy and the possible wear mechanism was studied.

Bagasse fiber
Kevlar fiber
Graded composites
Sliding wear
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Present age can be considered as composite age with a lot of work being done on this field and still a vast number of new areas are being worked on [1–3]. Nowadays, the engineering composites are designed as to arrange the transition in micro/nano structures in order to improve the overall execution of the component [4–8]. Functionally graded materials (FGM) comes under the heading of these cutting edge composites where a gradient in morphology/microstructure is deliberately being made to suit a particular application and to enhance the performance levels superior to their homogeneous counterparts [9,10]. The early concept of FGM was proposed in Japan in 1984 [11]. Since then, researchers start exploring the area of FGM because of the multi‐fold potential of such materials in performance improvement. Since the last decade, material scientist had successfully developed various metal, ceramic and polymer based FGM to get the desired property gradient in the structure [12]. The functionally graded polymer composites having advantageous characteristics like high specific strength, high modulus, low weight, self-lubrication, low noise and ease in fabrication are a class of materials which is extensively used as components where friction and wear are critical issues [13,14]. Gangil et al. [15] studied the wear behaviour of fiber reinforced vinylester resin based FGM and homogeneous composites and found that FGM composites exhibit improved wear behaviour than homogeneous composites. Singh and Siddhartha [16] reported that the addition of glass fiber in polybutylene terephthalate graded composites contributed to escalated mechanical and thermo-mechanical properties in contrast with their homogeneous composites. Li et al. [17] successfully developed unidirectional continuous fiber reinforced polyethylene graded laminates and concluded that these graded composites exhibit 10–20% higher tensile strength compared to homogenous polyethylene composites. The influence of fiber hybridization (glass and carbon) on mechanical properties of graded epoxy composites was also investigated by Singh et al. [18]. They claimed that graded hybrid composite exhibits ∼7-8% higher flexural modulus compared to classical hybrid composites.

Literature reveals that synthetic fibers such as glass, Kevlar, carbon and their combinations have been extensively used as reinforcement of polymeric graded composites. Generally, the synthetic fibers are incorporated with the main objective of improving the physico-mechanical and wear properties of the polymeric composites [19]. Apart from beneficial attributes these fibers are expansive, consumed higher energy, non-recyclable which may affect the final performance of the composite [20,21]. Recently, the increasing environmental awareness throughout the world has enforced the scientist to develop natural fiber reinforced polymer composites materials [22–25]. The natural fibers used in polymer composites offer various benefits such as environmental friendliness, light-weight, biodegradable, non-toxic, wide availability [26–29]. Despite the listed benefits, the natural fibers possess hydrophilic nature which leads to decline the physico-mechanical properties of the designed composites [30]. In this regard, hybridization of natural and synthetic fiber is reported to achieve higher performance properties, which would not be obtained with a single kind of reinforcement. Many studies have been conducted on the hybridization of natural-synthetic fiber such as bagasse-aramid by Anidha et al. [31], sugar palm-glass by Afzaluddin et al. [32], kenaf-glass by Ismail et al. [33] and curaua-aramid by Silva et al. [34] reported to improve the physico-mechanical, thermal and wear properties of the polymer composites.

Moreover one can expect that hybridization of synthetic fiber with natural fiber not only resulted in lower weight and cost with good physico-mechanical and wear properties but also reduces the environmental burden. However, there has been no systematic effort to evaluate the wear performance of an FGM containing synthetic and natural fibers in combination. Therefore, in current study, Kevlar and bagasse fibers reinforced vinylester based homogenous and graded composites were fabricated and evaluated for sliding wear performance.

2Experimental details2.1Materials and composite fabrication

Vinylester resin, chopped bagasse and Kevlar fiber with an average size of 1–2 mm and 0.25 mm were taken as matrix and reinforcing components. The ingredients were purchased from Dhanchan Industries Meerut, India. Chemically the bagasse fiber contains 37% cellulose, 22% lignin, 10% pectin and 21% hemicellulose [35]. The various properties of the selected ingredients are presented in Table 1, while the scanning electron microscope images of the selected bagasse and Kevlar fibers are presented in Fig. 1. Cobalt Naphthenate and ketone-peroxide in the ratio of 1.5:1 wt.% were used as accelerator and hardener. The fabrication of composite was initiated by mixing fiber in desired concentration with the resin, hardener and accelerator as presented in Table 2. Then after, the mixture was poured in glass tubes (Ø 10 mm, length = 110 mm). Gravity method is used for homogeneous composite, whereas vertical centrifugal casting technique is adopted for the fabrication of graded composites; where the known composition is taken in the glass tube and then rotated for 30 min at 1000 rpm. Then these specimens are kept further for curing at room temperature for 48 h and then taken out from the glass tube for wear tests. The developed composites are illustrated in Fig. 2.

Table 1.

Physical and mechanical properties of the selected materials.

Property  Bagasse fiber  Kevlar fiber  Vinylester resin 
Density (g/cm31.25  1.44  1.05 
Tensile strength (MPa)  290  2600  80 
Tensile modulus (GPa)  17  82 
Elongation (%)  6.3  2.4 
Fig. 1.

Scanning electron microscope images of (a) bagasse fiber and (b) Kevlar fiber.

Table 2.

Detail of the composite composition and designation.

Composition (wt.%)Designation
BK-0  BK-1  BK-2  BK-3  BK-4  BK-5  BK-6  BK-7  BK-8 
Vinylester resin  100  95  90  85  80  95  90  85  80 
Kevlar fiber 
Bagasse fiber  10  15  10  15 
Fabrication technique  HomogeneousGraded
Fig. 2.

Fabricated composites samples.

2.2Sliding wear study

The wear behaviour of the composites was analyzed as per ASTM G-99 test conditions. The wear tests were performed on a pin-on-disc machine (Fig. 3) equipped by DUCOM. The detailed schematic and working of the test rig is reported elsewhere [36]. A sequence of experiments were conducted with varying sliding velocities (1.5, 2.5, 3.5 and 4.5 m/s), normal load (10, 15, 20, 25 N), sliding distance (1, 2, 3, 4 km) and bagasse fiber loading (0, 5, 10, 15 wt.%) as given in Table 2. The material losses are measured by a precision electronic balance, while specific wear rate was determined as [37]:

Where, ωs = specific wear rate (mm3/Nm), Δw = sample weight loss (g), ∂ = density (g/mm3), t = time (sec), Vs = sliding velocity (m/sec), ħn = applied load (N).

Fig. 3.

Scheme of pin-on-disc machine.

2.3Experiment design

Taguchi method is a potent tool to analyze and optimize the impact of control factors on performance output. The Taguchi method contains following steps [38]:

Step I: Objective selection - The main characteristic of polymer composites is their wear performance. So, wear is selected as the main objective which has to be minimized.

Step II: Control factors and levels selection - Four control factors namely normal load, fiber loading, sliding speed and sliding distance with four levels each (Table 3) were utilized to study the wear behaviour of the composites.

Table 3.

Levels of the control factor used in the experiment.

Controls factorsLevelsUnits
Sliding velocity (A)  1.5  2.5  3.5  4.5  m/s 
Fiber content (B)  10  15  wt.% 
Normal load (C)  10  15  20  25 
Sliding distance (D)  km 

Step III: Orthogonal array construction- The vital parts of the Taguchi method is the construction of orthogonal array. In the present work, an orthogonal array of L16 is taken as shown in Table 4.

Table 4.

Experimental design.

Test runControl factors
A: Sliding velocity  B: Fiber content  C: Normal load  D: Sliding distance 
1.5  10 
1.5  15 
1.5  10  20 
1.5  15  25 
2.5  15 
2.5  10 
2.5  10  25 
2.5  15  20 
3.5  20 
10  3.5  25 
11  3.5  10  10 
12  3.5  15  15 
13  4.5  25 
14  4.5  20 
15  4.5  10  15 
16  4.5  15  10 

Step IV: S/N ratio determination- In this step the obtained wear results were transformed into a signal to noise (S-N) ratio. Generally, higher-the-better, lower-the-better and nominal-the-better characteristics were used in the transformation. In current study, lower wear is desired hence, lower-the-better characteristics used for S-N ratio calculation [38]:

Where y represents the Ws response and n denotes the number of experiments.

Step V: Contribution ratio (CR) determination- For effectiveness study, CR of each control factor was determined as [37]:

Where, i = control factor, j = total number of control factors.

Step VI: Confirmation experiment- In the final step, a confirmation experiment is performed to validate the level of importance of the parameters taken during the analysis step.

3Results and discussions3.1Specific wear rate with respect to sliding velocity

Plots of specific wear rate as a function of sliding velocity for neat vinylester and Kevlar-bagasse fiber based graded and homogeneous composites are illustrated in Fig. 4, while sliding distance (1 km) and normal load (10 N) remain fixed.

Fig. 4.

Specific wear rate as a function of sliding velocity.


The wear rate of the investigated composites (neat, homogeneous and graded) has been found to increase with rise in the sliding velocity to 2.5 m/s. Thereafter the wear rate decreased with further increase in sliding velocity from 2.5 to 4.5 m/s. The neat vinylester composite exhibits a higher wear rate to that of homogeneous and graded composites. The reduced wear for homogeneous and graded composites may be due to the self-lubricating nature and superior mechanical properties of the fibrous reinforcement [39]. From the graph, it is clear that, at higher sliding velocity, the graded composite with 15 wt.% bagasse fiber loading shows improved wear resistance as compared to the homogenous counterpart.

3.2Specific wear rate with respect to normal load

Plots of specific wear rate as a function of normal load for neat vinylester and Kevlar-bagasse fiber based graded and homogeneous composites are illustrated in Fig. 5, while sliding distance (1 km) and sliding velocity (2.1 m/s) remain fixed.

Fig. 5.

Specific wear rate as a function of normal load.


As the load increases, the specific wear rate of graded/homogeneous composite decreases relative to the neat composite due to the more heat generation between the sliding surfaces. This may result in softening of the matrix and leads to the formation of a transfer film between two mating surfaces. This transfer film allows strong fiber-matrix bonding, which helps to reduce the interface de-bonding and also keeps the broken chopped fibers in the composite surface. This, in turn, prevents the early formation of third body abrasion [40]. Furthermore, due to the presence of Kevlar and bagasse fibers, the wear rate further decreases as they act as a blockade for the grooving and micro-ploughing mechanism of wear [41]. The graded composites show better wear resistance in contrast to their homogeneous counterpart for similar fiber loading and this is because better compaction and compatibility is achieved in case of graded composites due to centrifugal casting approach. Overall, 15 wt.% bagasse fiber reinforced graded composite exhibits a lower wear rate at higher velocity and load.

3.3Taguchi analysis of the composites

Table 5 summarizes results of the Taguchi experimental design, presenting the specific wear rate of graded (WSG) and homogeneous (WSH) composites along with their respective S-N ratio. The overall means of the specific wear rate and the S-N ratio from all the experimental runs were ∼8.14 × 10−6 mm³/Nm and −18.10 dB for graded and ∼8.70 × 10−6 mm³/Nm and −18.66 dB for homogeneous composites respectively.

Table 5.

Experimental results and corresponding S-N ratio.

Test run  WSG 10−6 × (mm³/Nm)  S-N ratio (db)  WSH 10−6 × (mm³/Nm)  S-N ratio (db) 
5.880  −15.39  6.012  −15.58 
6.716  −16.54  6.629  −16.43 
8.260  −18.34  8.801  −18.89 
8.605  −18.70  9.480  −19.54 
10.18  −20.15  11.22  −21.00 
8.370  −18.45  9.032  −19.12 
7.512  −17.52  7.894  −17.95 
7.026  −16.93  7.436  −17.43 
8.602  −18.69  9.598  −19.64 
10  8.684  −18.77  9.166  −19.24 
11  8.354  −18.44  8.730  −18.82 
12  8.211  −18.29  8.470  −18.56 
13  11.40  −21.14  12.34  −21.83 
14  9.076  −19.16  9.340  −19.41 
15  7.046  −16.96  7.650  −17.67 
16  6.365  −16.08  7.440  −17.43 

In addition, the lowest specific wear rate (∼5.88 × 10−6 mm³/Nm) was found for test run 1 of graded composite and the highest specific wear rate (∼12.34 × 10−6 mm³/Nm) for test run 13 of the homogeneous composite. Further, the S-N ratio response of wear rate for graded and homogeneous composites are provided in Table 6. From Table 6, one can easily infer that sliding velocity standout the most significant factor to influence the wear rate of the graded and homogeneous composites followed by fiber loading. However, the normal load and sliding distance are found to have less influence on the wear rate of the graded and homogeneous composites.

Table 6.

S-N ratio response table for specific wear rate of graded and homogeneous composites.

  LevelControl factors
Average S-N ratio (dB) of graded composites−17.24  −18.84  −17.09  −17.59 
−18.26  −18.23  −17.99  −18.26 
−18.55  −17.81  −18.28  −18.34 
−18.33  −17.50  −19.03  −18.20 
Average S-N ratio (dB) of homogeneous composites−17.61  −19.51  −17.74  −17.87 
−18.87  −18.55  −18.41  −18.63 
−19.07  −18.33  −18.84  −19.14 
−19.08  −18.24  −19.64  −18.99 

From Figs. 6 and 7, the optimum combination of control factors for the least wear rate of graded and homogeneous composites is determined as A1B4C1D1. The wear rates of homogeneous and graded composite material are shown in Table 5. From the test condition, it is obvious, that graded composite shows higher wear resistance than homogeneous composites. From this one can summarize that fabrication technique plays an important role in minimizing the wear. The contribution ratio of each control factor for wear rate of graded and homogeneous composites are determined and given in Fig. 8. The outcome demonstrates that normal load affects the wear rate of graded composites with a contribution ratio of 36.33% followed by fiber content, sliding velocity and sliding distance with a contribution ratio of 25.09%, 24.53% and 14.05% respectively. Normal load also has the strongest impact on the wear rate of homogeneous composites with a contribution ratio of 32.09% followed by sliding velocity, fiber content and sliding distance with a contribution ratio of 25%, 21.46% and 21.45%, respectively.

Fig. 6.

Main-effect plots for S-N ratio of specific wear rate of the graded composites.

Fig. 7.

Main-effect plots for S-N ratio of specific wear rate of the homogeneous composites.

Fig. 8.

Contribution ratio of each control factor on specific wear rate of graded and homogeneous composites.

3.4Confirmation experiment

For verifying the optimal condition for minimum specific wear rate obtained on the basis of Taguchi design, a confirmation test was conducted. The experiments were carried out under optimal conditions of control factors A1B4C1D1 to validate the reproducibility and feasibility of the Taguchi optimization. The predicted value of specific wear rate at optimal condition control factors i.e. A1B4C1D1 was calculated for graded and homogeneous composites using the following equations

Where, χG, ħ are the predicted average and overall experimental average of graded composite, χH, ?? are the predicted average and overall experimental average of homogeneous composites respectively. The specific wear rate of graded composite by the predictive equation was found to be 5.40 × 10−6 mm³/Nm and that for homogeneous composite is found to be 5.56 × 10−6 mm³/Nm. The experimental results obtained are compared with the predicted results as shown in Table 7. An error of 2.96% and 3.42% for the specific wear rate has been observed for graded and homogeneous composites. This authenticates that the predicted values are reliable, consequently, Taguchi methodology can be said to be fit for predicting ideal control factors for wear minimization.

Table 7.

Outcomes of confirmation experiments.

Optimum control factorError (%)
Experimental  Predicted 
Graded  A1B4C1D1  A1B4C1D1   
Specific wear rate achieved ×10−6 mm³/Nm  5.56  5.40  2.96 
Homogeneous  A4B1C1D1  A4B1C1D1   
Specific wear rate achieved × 10−6 mm³/Nm  5.75  5.56  3.42 
3.5Worn surface morphology

For possible wear mechanism, the worn surfaces of the composites were investigated with the scanning electron microscope (SEM) and presented in Figs. 9–11. From SEM observations it appears that composites (homogeneous or graded) under consideration exhibits various wear mechanism as per the operating conditions presented in Table 4. The wear behaviour of the composites varies with the fiber loading and operating conditions. The remarkable feature of the worn surfaces hybrid composites is a smooth topography. At lower sliding velocity, the worn surface was relatively smooth and wear rate increased with an increase in fiber loading and normal load. Fig. 9(a–d) of homogeneous and graded composite with ≤5 wt.% bagasse fiber loading, ≤15 N load, ≤2 km distance and 1.5 m/sec sliding velocity both exhibits almost similar wear rate which is in the range of ∼5.88 × 10−6–6.72 × 10−6 mm³/Nm. This low wear rate of the composite at low sliding speed was due to this synergistic effect of bagasse and Kevlar fibers. Both homogeneous and graded composites show increased wear rate 9.48 × 10−6 mm³/Nm and 8.61 × 10−6 mm³/Nm respectively, As the bagasse fiber loading increases to 15 wt.%, normal load to 25 N, sliding distance to 4 km, as shown in Fig. 9(e, f).

Fig. 9.

Worn surface morphology of homogeneous and graded composites.

Fig. 10.

Worn surface morphology of homogeneous and graded composites.

Fig. 11.

Worn surface morphology of homogeneous and graded composites.


In comparison with Fig. 9(a–d), it is clear that the worn surface of Fig. 9(e, f) for both homogeneous and graded composites exhibit higher wear rates with severe fiber breakage and surface damage. This severe fiber breakage and surface damage are due to frictional heat generated during sliding will leading to fiber-matrix debonding and hence increased wear rate [42]. The wear rate increased in both the graded and homogeneous composites and remain in the range of 8.37 × 10−6–11.22 × 10−6 mm³/Nm, as the sliding velocity increases to 2.5 m/s and sliding distance to 3–4 km (Table 4, Test run: 5–6). Their corresponding micrographs are shown in Fig. 10(a–d) reveals extensive matrix fragmentation and the manifestation of shallow furrows due to micro-ploughing in the resin and micro-cutting of the fibers in both homogeneous and graded composites. This might be credited to the reduction of fiber-matrix adhesion with increased frictional heat resulted in higher wear rate due to peeling-off and pulverization of the fibers [43].

Fig. 11(a–d) shows the worn surface of ≤ 5 wt.% bagasse fiber reinforced composites tested under 20–25 N loads at 3.5 m/s of sliding speed and sliding distance of 3–4 km. The worn surfaces exhibit ploughed shear mark on the rubbing surface and fiber breakage and matrix wear debris accumulation of homogeneous and graded composites as shown in Fig. 11(a–d), (Table 4, Test run: 9–10) accounts for higher wear rate i.e. ∼9 × 10−6 mm³/N-m for both homogeneous and graded composites. Further, with an increase in sliding velocity to 4.5 m/s, bagasse fiber loading ≤ 5 wt.% and loads (≥20 N) wear rate increases tremendously for both homogeneous and graded composites and remains in between 9.076 × 10−6 and 12.34 × 10−6 mm³/Nm. The distinct feature of the worn surface is the higher extent of fibers breakage or pulverization and debonding in the fiber-matrix adhesion. This may be attributed to the formation of large rough patches that appears on the worn surface as shown in Fig. 11(e, f). The protruding of fibers from shallow furrows drawn across the surface as a result of microploughing and extensive fibrillation of the fiber can also be seen. Also, delamination and thermo-fatigue failure of the matter from the surface of the composite is responsible for the highest wear rate.


In the present study, fixed Kevlar fiber (5 wt.%) and varying bagasse fiber (0, 5, 10, 15 wt.%) reinforced homogeneous and graded vinylester composites were designed, fabricated and evaluated for sliding wear behaviour. The specific wear rate of graded and homogeneous composites was first increased and then decreased with further increase in sliding velocity. Whereas, the specific wear rate shows a decreasing trend with an increased normal load. The minimum specific wear rate is shown by 15 wt.% bagasse fiber reinforced graded composite. The optimum combination of control factors to achieve minimum specific wear rate for homogeneous and graded composites is: 1.5 m/s sliding velocity (Factor A, Level 1), 15 wt.% bagasse fiber content (Factor B, Level 4), 10 N normal load (Factor C, Level 1) and 1 km sliding distance (Factor D, Level 1). The contribution of the normal load was the largest influence on the specific wear rate of graded and homogeneous composites with 36.33% and 32.09% respectively.

Conflict of interest

“The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper.”

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