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Out-of Autoclave Composites Manufacturing Processes

SpecialChem / Jan 19, 2007

The manufacture of high quality structural composite components for aerospace applications has historically involved autoclave curing, a time consuming, high labor, and capital intensive manufacturing process. As the aerospace and defense industries look to lower costs, composite parts manufacturers are searching for low cost alternatives to traditional autoclave molding processes that can produce the same mechanical performance that autoclave curing provides. In the meantime, these fabricators are also seeking to improve manufacturability and eliminate most secondary processes, while also molding parts that have increased complexity. Both commercial and academic R&D have been focusing on a variety of liquid molding or low pressure consolidation processes to meet this need for lower cost 'out-of-autoclave' composite molding. Examples of processing alternatives that can achieve aerospace grade results without resort to autoclave cure include vacuum assisted resin transfer molding (VARTM) techniques, resin transfer molding (RTM) processes and novel semi-preg or prepreg systems.

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