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April 2006 edition

Performance and variability analysis of the vacuum-assisted resin transfer moulding process for aerospace structures

By Dirk Heider and John W. Gillespie, Jr

The third article in a series from the Center of Excellence for Composites and Advanced Materials shares its research on the application of vacuum-assisted resin transfer moulding (VARTM) for aerospace applications, which is being conducted at the University of Delaware’s Center for Composite Materials (UD-CCM), a member of the Center of Excellence for Composites and Advanced Materials (CECAM), and part of the FAA’s Joint Advanced Materials and Structures (JAMS) Center of Excellence.

The long-term objective of the research is to improve VARTM repeatability equivalent to autoclave processing with specific properties (property/weight) that are close to autoclave-processed part levels at a lower cost.

VARTM is a composite manufacturing process that involves the layup of dry reinforcing fibres in fabric, tape or bulk form as a preform in a mould then impregnation of the preform with liquid resin using negative pressure (i.e. vacuum), followed by cure and demoulding.

Low-void-content VARTM parts have been made in industry, but low dimensional tolerances (due to the inherent thickness gradient and low fibre volume fraction compared to autoclave processing) have limited the process. A few aerospace applications have been successful such as the CH-47 working platform (V Systems Technologies, Anaheim, CA) and A380 components (EADS, Augsburg). Current research is investigating the fundamental VARTM processing prope....

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Univ of Delaware Center for Composite Materials Research/Consulting Services, Testing Services, Computer-aided Design, Fabricating Services

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