Development of a pilot autoclave for polymeric diaphragm forming of continuous fibre-reinforced thermoplastics

P. J. Mallon, C. M. O'Bradaigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

An experimental autoclave has been designed and commissioned for polymeric diaphragm forming of continuous fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composite parts. The stand-alone autoclave is heated using a standard heater band and is pressurized by compressed nitrogen gas. Unidirectional and cross-ply stacked prepregs of carbon fibre-reinforced polyetheretherketone have been successfully formed over a 90° single-curvature bend. Forming is effected by applying differential pressures across a double polyimide diaphragm. Innovative tool design, resulting in cheap and light mould construction, combined with transfer gas cooling under pressure, gives cycle times of 75 minutes. Part reproducibility and quality is confirmed by nondestructive evaluation. Commercial opportunities for polymeric diaphragm forming techniques with thermoplastic composites are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-47
Number of pages11
JournalComposites
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1988

Keywords

  • autoclave
  • composite materials
  • continuous fibres
  • equipment design
  • fabrication
  • mould
  • polymeric diaphragm forming
  • thermoplastic matrices

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