Journal article

A structure and property based process window for void free thermoset composites

A process window providing guidelines to minimize internal stress levels and to prevent void formation during cure of thermoset composite materials is presented. A model taking into account the applied pressure and the level of stress borne by the fiber assembly was introduced to calculate the hydrostatic internal stress state in the resin during cure. Based on the fundamental mechanisms of matrix shrinkage and evolution of viscoelastic properties under the given processing conditions, the internal stress in the resin was calculated as a function of fiber volume fraction, fiber stacking sequence, applied pressure and resin conversion. This level of stress is compared to a criterion for void initiation in the resin. A process window was hence constructed for preventing void formation during cure. Composite laminates with different stacking sequences and fiber volume fractions were cured with different applied pressures within and out of the process window boundaries. The composite void contents were measured and correlated perfectly with the process boundaries. This process window construction taking into account the material viscoelastic properties and the composite architecture is a unique tool for determining optimum process condition of composite laminates.


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