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Demonstration of an Inflatable, Collapsible Pressure Intensifier

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Demonstration of an Inflatable, Collapsible Pressure Intensifier for Out-Of-Autoclave Composite Processing Using BMI Prepreg


An inflatable, collapsible pressure vessel for Out-of-Autoclave composites manufacture has been developed and demonstrated utilizing flexible softgoods materials. The pressure vessel draws from a strong heritage of previously manufactured and demonstrated inflatable products including space habitats and resilient tunnel plugs. The pressure intensifier has been used to process composite parts at 103.4kPa [15 psig] and the physical properties of the sample composites have been compared to vacuum-bag-only parts. This paper discusses the comparative test results on these composite materials such as cured ply thickness and void content. The main advantages of the inflatable pressure intensifier are that it can be scaled to cost effectively process extremely large parts of any shape and it can be packed and deployed to be used at various manufacturing or repair locations. The system also provides at least 103.4kPa [15 psig] over pressure to vacuum bagged parts to provide roughly equivalent processing to autoclave parts with industry standard materials. The system is lower cost than a large diameter autoclave, and it can be designed to fit various composite shapes (i.e. “T” and “Y” configurations). The materials used for the pressure intensifier are tailored to meet the curing temperature requirements of many commercially available resin systems such as BMI, epoxy, and cyanate ester.  The target markets for the inflatable pressure intensifier are Aerospace and Defense, alternative energy, and other large composite part users and enables higher quality VacuumAssisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM) than previously possible. This paper discusses the continued development, demonstration, and testing of the inflatable, collapsible, out-of-autoclave pressure vessel for processing BMI composite components.


Authors: Jason Varnum, Steve Slaughter,Stephen E. Scarborough, David P. Cadogan


Conference: CAMX 2016 – Anaheim


SKU/Code: TP16-0048


Pages: 19


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