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Advances in Materials Science and Engineering
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 356824, 14 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/356824
Research Article

Curing Pressure Influence of Out-of-Autoclave Processing on Structural Composites for Commercial Aviation

1Polymeric Composites Laboratory, GloCal/F.R.E.E.D.O.M., 3131 Western Avenue M526, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
2University of Texas at Arlington, 500 West First Street, Arlington, TX 76019, USA
3University of Cyprus, P.O. Box 20537, 1678 Nicosia, Cyprus

Received 6 September 2012; Revised 11 December 2012; Accepted 11 January 2013

Academic Editor: Abbas Milani

Copyright © 2013 Vasileios M. Drakonakis et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Autoclaving is a process that ensures the highest quality of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composite structures used in aviation. During the autoclave process, consolidation of prepreg laminas through simultaneous elevated pressure and temperature results in a uniform high-end material system. This work focuses on analyzing in a fundamental way the applications of pressure and temperature separately during prepreg consolidation. A controlled pressure vessel (press-clave) has been designed that applies pressure during the curing process while the temperature is being applied locally by heat blankets. This vessel gives the ability to design manufacturing processes with different pressures while applying temperature at desired regions of the composite. The pressure role on the curing extent and its effect on the interlayer region are also tested in order to evaluate the consolidation of prepregs to a completely uniform material. Such studies may also be used to provide insight into the morphology of interlayer reinforcement concepts, which are widely used in the featherweight composites. Specimens manufactured by press-clave, which separates pressure from heat, are analytically tested and compared to autoclaved specimens in order to demonstrate the suitability of the press-clave to manufacture high-quality composites with excessively reduced cost.