Rapid Consolidation and Electron Beam Curing Of Resin-Infused Thermoset Composites
The ideal manufacturing process for advanced thermoset composite materials may involve components with extended shelf lives, low-cost high-consolidation, and rapid curing. This can be realized by creating a hybrid system that involves a combination of liquid composite molding (LCM), high consolidation pressures using specialized elastomeric tooling (SET), and rapid resin curing using electron beam (EB) irradiation. The use of LCM and EB curable resin eliminates the need for prepreg preforms allowing for the fiber and resin to be stored without refrigeration for extended periods of time. The SET process provides high consolidation very quickly and with very low costs. An EB-curable resin provides the ability to rapidly cure, in as low as 15 seconds under recommended conditions. To validate feasibility, a SET mold was designed and fabricated to create 152.4 mm square samples made of four plies of 12K plain weave carbon fiber. The mold was designed to infuse the preform within minutes with EB-curable resin, allow for compression using an elastomer-faced compression mold using a hydraulic press up to 690 kPa, and cured using a 3.0 MeV EB source. Test parts were manufactured using two distinct EB curable resin chemistries, as well as high and low consolidation pressures to determine optimal process conditions. High consolidation laminates using cationic EB curable resin chemistry showed favorable results over the other three conditions by comparing flexural strength, flexural secant modulus, fiber and void volume fraction, cross sectional characteristics, and thickness distribution.
Authors: Robert H. Rizzolo, Daniel F. Walczyk, Jaron Kuppers, Daniel Montoney, Richard Galloway
Conference: CAMX 2016 – Anaheim