High-Performance Composites

NOV 2014

High-Performance Composites is read by qualified composites industry professionals in the fields of continuous carbon fiber and other high-performance composites as well as the associated end-markets of aerospace, military, and automotive.

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APPLICATIONS N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 4 | 5 7 autoclave. Petrykowski used a nickel-shell plaque tool, from Weber Manufactur- ing Technologies Inc. (Midland, Ontario, Canada), integrally plumbed for water circulation, and a Regloplas P160M mold temperature controller to circulate hot and cool water. Thin sample parts were made with carbon/epoxy prepreg supplied by Cytec Aerospace Materials (Tempe, Ariz.), under a vacuum bag, and the tool setup was monitored via four thermo- couples, a power meter and a data logger. Parts were processed inside a BondTech Corp. (Somerset, Ky.) vessel at fabricator deBotech Inc. (Mooresville, N.C.). Pet- rykowski measured the energy consumed for both methods (autoclave alone, and autoclave plus mold controller). The results were striking: The autoclave alone consumed nearly 90 kW of energy over a 75-minute cure period, about 20 times the 4.3 kW of total energy consumed by the autoclave/heated-mold controller on the identical tool/part combination. "The greater energy use is due to heat- ing a larger mass (the autoclave) and the reduced heat transfer value of the air/nitrogen used to heat the autoclave and mold as compared to the integrally plumbed tool with water heating," explains Petrykowski. In addition, tem- peratures can be ramped up more than three times faster and temperature uniformity is more than 50 percent more precise with the water-heated mold than with the autoclave alone. "The massive cooling capability of the pressurized water system is especially effective when applied to thick compos- ite parts with the potential for exother- mic reactions, and for rapid cycle pro- duction," he adds. Further, heated-mold parts processed inside the autoclave showed mechanical properties as good as the autoclaved parts made without the Regloplas unit, based on coupon tests of the carbon plaques. Petrykowski contends that existing vacuum ports on the autoclave can be readily disabled to allow for routing of the water hoses inside to the molds. And, existing metal tools can be retroft- ted with plumbing to transition to heated-mold control. Notably, even com- posite tooling can be integrally plumbed with heating and cooling channels — a current Regloplas customer has done it, and is using the tool in production. A N N I V E R S A R Y 0 2 HPC Charter Advertiser WABASH MPI P.O. Box 298, Wabash, IN 46992-0298 Phone 260-563-1184 • FAX 260-563-1396 E-mail: wabashmpi@corpemail.com www.wabashmpi.com ISO 9001:2008 Certified Wabash produces a wide range of hydraulic presses for compression molding in composites applications. We offer standard and custom designs from 15-1000 tons with various heated platen sizes and control options. Visit our website at www.wabashmpi.com. WABA S H The Leader in Composites Molding! 400 Tons Down-acting 120" x 60" Platens Source: Regoplas USA Adapting the autoclave for pressurized water This photo, taken inside an autoclave, shows how vacuum ports in the pressure vessel were adapted to plumb the tool.

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