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Research Papers

Pressurized Infusion: A New and Improved Liquid Composite Molding Process

[+] Author and Article Information
M. Akif Yalcinkaya

School of Aerospace and Mechanical
Engineering,
The University of Oklahoma,
Felgar Hall, Room. 212, 865 Asp Avenue,
Norman, OK 73019
e-mail: akifyalcinkaya@ou.edu

Gorkem E. Guloglu

School of Aerospace and
Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Oklahoma,
Felgar Hall, Room. 212, 865 Asp Avenue,
Norman, OK 73019
e-mail: gguloglu@ou.edu

Maya Pishvar

Mem. ASME
School of Aerospace and Mechanical
Engineering,
The University of Oklahoma,
Felgar Hall, Room. 212, 865 Asp Avenue,
Norman, OK 73019
e-mail: pishvar@ou.edu

Mehrad Amirkhosravi

Mem. ASME
School of Aerospace and Mechanical
Engineering,
The University of Oklahoma,
Felgar Hall, Room. 212, 865 Asp Avenue,
Norman, OK 73019
e-mail: mehrad@ou.edu

E. Murat Sozer

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Koc University,
Rumelifeneri Yolu, Sariyer,
Istanbul 34450, Turkey
e-mail: msozer@ku.edu.tr

M. Cengiz Altan

Mem. ASME
School of Aerospace and
Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Oklahoma,
Felgar Hall, Room. 212, 865 Asp Avenue,
Norman, OK 73019
e-mail: altan@ou.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received June 24, 2018; final manuscript received September 17, 2018; published online October 26, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Martine Dubé.

J. Manuf. Sci. Eng 141(1), 011007 (Oct 26, 2018) (12 pages) Paper No: MANU-18-1481; doi: 10.1115/1.4041569 History: Received June 24, 2018; Revised September 17, 2018

Vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM) has several inherent shortcomings such as long mold filling times, low fiber volume fraction, and high void content in fabricated laminates. These problems in VARTM mainly arise from the limited compaction of the laminate and low resin pressure. Pressurized infusion (PI) molding introduced in this paper overcomes these disadvantages by (i) applying high compaction pressure on the laminate by an external pressure chamber placed on the mold and (ii) increasing the resin pressure by pressurizing the inlet resin reservoir. The effectiveness of PI molding was verified by fabricating composite laminates at various levels of chamber and inlet pressures and investigating the effect of these parameters on the fill time, fiber volume fraction, and void content. Furthermore, spatial distribution of voids was characterized by employing a unique method, which uses a flatbed scanner to capture the high-resolution planar scan of the fabricated laminates. The results revealed that PI molding reduced fill time by 45%, increased fiber volume fraction by 16%, reduced void content by 98%, improved short beam shear (SBS) strength by 14%, and yielded uniform spatial distribution of voids compared to those obtained by conventional VARTM.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Pressurized infusion molding experimental setup

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Fig. 2

(a) Calculation of permeability by using the experimental data and (b) an example mold filling experiment (FS-0-0) and best-fit curve using the calculated permeability, where μ = 0.18 Pa·s, ϕ = 0.57, Pin = 100 kPa, and C = 0.0082 m/s1/2

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 3

Permeability characterization of the preform at various Vf caused by the expansion of the bag at high Pin. The curve fit constants are A = 5.37 × 10−9 m2 and B = 0.115, where K is in m2 and Vf is in %. R2 of the curve fit is 0.93.

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Fig. 4

Effect of chamber and inlet pressures on the mold filling time. The first and the second numbers of the FS designations correspond to Pchamber and Pin in kPa, respectively. The actual fill times are reported on top of each bar.

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Fig. 5

(a) Thickness, (b) fiber volume fraction, and (c) void content of laminates fabricated by applying various Pchamber and Pin. The error bars represent the 95% confidence interval of the experimental data.

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Fig. 6

Micrographs taken from various laminates: (a) arrows point to wide resin-rich intertow regions in FS-0-0, (b) highly compacted microstructure due to high Pchamber in FS-200-180, and (c) microstructure indicates slightly reduced fiber volume fraction due to expansion of the laminate in through-the-thickness direction at high inlet pressure, Pin, for FS-200-180-P

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Fig. 7

Effect of process parameters on the void morphology: (a) numerous large voids due to low compaction and resin pressures in the conventional VARTM (i.e., FS-0-0), (b) compressed, slender voids extended under high Pchamber in FS-100-0, (c) a void with smooth edges due to high Pin in FS-200-180, and (d) void free cross section formed by applying a packing pressure during the post-filling in FS-200-180-P

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Fig. 8

((a) and (b)) Planar optical scans of the laminates showing voids as darker regions; ((c) and (d)) images after processing the scans seen in (a) and (b); and ((e) and (f)) contour plots of gray values of pixels seen in the processed images. Red color in the color scale indicates less transparency, and thus, more voids through the thickness, which decreases as the color approaches to white in the color bar (See color figure online).

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Fig. 9

Void occurrence along the resin flow direction of laminates fabricated by various combinations of Pchamber and Pin. The numbers pointing the lines correspond to the void occurrence averaged along the laminate length. Void occurrence equals to the average gray value of the pixels along the width of the laminate normalized by the highest gray value of 255 (See color figure online).

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Fig. 10

Effect of Pin on the number of voids and their size. Sections captured from laminates fabricated by (a) FS-200-0 and (b) FS-200-180.

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Fig. 11

Effect of pressurized infusion molding on the SBS strength of laminates

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Fig. 12

Effect of voids on damage mechanisms. Micrographs were captured from fractured laminates fabricated by VARTM (FS-0-0). Arrows point to (a) cracks emanating from the edges of voids, (b) voids favoring the crack propagation through the thickness, and (c) delamination caused by large elongated voids. (d) An almost 45-deg crack propagation across a void free cross section is seen in a void free laminate fabricated by FS-200-180-P.

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