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Chapter 5 Manufacturing

Chapter 5 Manufacturing - 5 Manufacturing A key ingredient...

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5 Manufacturing A key ingredient in the successful production application of a material or a component is a cost-effective and reliable manufacturing method. Cost- effectiveness depends largely on the rate of production, and reliability requires a uniform quality from part to part. The early manufacturing method for fiber-reinforced composite structural parts used a hand layup technique. Although hand layup is a reliable process, it is by nature very slow and labor-intensive. In recent years, particularly due to the interest generated in the automotive industry, there is more emphasis on the development of manufacturing methods that can support mass production rates. Compression molding, pultrusion, and filament winding represent three such manufacturing processes. Although they have existed for many years, investigations on their basic characteristics and process optimization started mostly in the mid-1970s. Resin transfer molding (RTM) is another manufac- turing process that has received significant attention in both aerospace and automotive industries for its ability to produce composite parts with complex shapes at relatively high production rates. With the introduction of automa- tion, fast-curing resins, new fiber forms, high-resolution quality control tools, and so on, the manufacturing technology for fiber-reinforced polymer compos- ites has advanced at a remarkably rapid pace. This chapter describes the basic characteristics of major manufacturing methods used in the fiber-reinforced polymer industry. Emphasis is given to process parameters and their relation to product quality. Quality inspection methods and cost issues are also discussed in this chapter. 5.1 FUNDAMENTALS Transformation of uncured or partially cured fiber-reinforced thermoset poly- mers into composite parts or structures involves curing the material at elevated temperatures and pressures for a predetermined length of time. High cure temperatures are required to initiate and sustain the chemical reaction that transforms the uncured or partially cured material into a fully cured solid. High pressures are used to provide the force needed for the flow of the highly viscous resin or fiber–resin mixture in the mold, as well as for the consolidation of individual unbonded plies into a bonded laminate. The magnitude of these two important process parameters, as well as their duration, significantly affects the ß 2007 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
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quality and performance of the molded product. The length of time required to properly cure a part is called the cure cycle. Since the cure cycle determines the production rate for a part, it is desirable to achieve the proper cure in the shortest amount of time. It should be noted that the cure cycle depends on a number of factors, including resin chemistry, catalyst reactivity, cure tempera- ture, and the presence of inhibitors or accelerators.
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