Continuous fiber reinforced thermoset composite structures can be produced by injecting liquid resins into a mold where it hosts pre-placed fiber reinforcement. One of the common processes presently utilized in the industry is the Resin Transfer Molding, abbreviated as RTM. In this process, fiber preforms are placed in a closed mold and resin is injected into the mold to impregnate the preform. After the resin cures, the mold is opened and the final composite part is de-molded. RTM can produce complex and high quality composite components in series production with smooth surface finishing. In order to be able produce high quality composite parts in repeatable and consistent manner with no intolerable defects such as dry-spots (regions not impregnated by resin when the resin reaches the vent) and other types of defects due to the presence of race tracking, resin flow through the reinforcement has to be well-studied. Race-tracking is defined as the preferential flow of resin in high permeability region (where fibers and edges of the mold meet) created due to fiber lose during the lay-out of the preform into the mold. Race-tracking creates an unbalanced or uneven resin flow in mold filling process, hence encouraging the formations of defects in the final parts. To this end, an accurate and comprehensive study of resin flow through the reinforcement (in essence, modelling of flow in a porous medium) can be considered an important tool for finding a proper mold design, RTM processing parameters, and for optimizing the RTM process.
Drs. Afzal Suleman & Mehmet Yildiz
Profile Composites Inc.
University of Victoria
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