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Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology

SM1010/03.12/6

...................3 Pressure Bag Moulding .........................................................................................................................................................................................................12 7....18 9........................1 Balsa .......................4 Cyanate Ester.....................................16 9.........10 6.18 9..................................17 9...............17 9............................................................................................1.............................................................................................................................................................................................................5 Zylon.........................................................3 Aramid ...12 7........14 7........................................................1 Plain Weave........................................................4 Notes on Sandwich Panels.......................................................................................................2 Material Formats ..........................................3 Fabric Styles ...................................................................2 Twill Weave .........................................................................................................................................................................................................................12 7..1.................3..................................................... 8 6.............................................................................................................................................................................18 9...................1 Vacuum Bagging and Autoclave Moulding.........................2 Glass ........... 6 5....................3 Sandwich Construction........................Table of Contents Para 1 2 3 4 Title Page General ..........................................................................1.........................3............... 4 5........ 3 5.......................................................................................................................3..................................................................................................3...............................1 Properties of a Sandwich Panel .........................................................................2................2 Two-Shot Curing ............................................................... 2 4............................2..................................................................................................................................................................................................................2 Foam............NCF)...........................................................................3 Honeycomb .....4 Dynema................................................. 1 Introduction....................................20 ...........................................................19 10....................................18 10 Umeco Structural Materials Product Range ......................2 Prepreg & Composite Nomenclature.....................................................19 10.............................................1 Materials ......................1 Manufacturing Prepreg ........................................... 3 5.....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................3 Satin Weave ................................ 1 Advantages of Composites ............................................ 4 5........................................................ 8 6.............................................................. 1 Matrices............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 3 4......................................................................................................................................................................................................................2.....................................3 Three-Shot Curing .....................................14 9 Sandwich Construction with Prepregs ........................................... 4 5...................................................3....................... 7 5................4 Syntactics and Pre-Impregnated Non-Wovens.................................................................................................................3 Bismaleimide (BMI).......................................................................................1 Carbon .........................................................1 Hot Melt Processing....14 7....................................18 9... 3 4............................................................................................................................... 2 4......................................2 Core Materials.......................................................................................1 Epoxy...................................................................................................................... 3 5............................ 2 4....................1.................................................................................................................................................................................... 3 5.. 3 4...........................................................................................................................13 7....... 8 6 Prepregs.......................................................... 4 5.....................................................................................................................................................................................................3......................1 Vacuum Bag Consumables.............17 9..................1........................................2............................ 6 5......................................................................2 Solvent Dip Processing............................................................................3....6 Vinyl Ester ............................4 Multiaxial (Non Crimp Fabric .. 8 6..................................................................................................................17 9.........................................................................................................................................................................................................1...............................................................................16 9...............................................................................1...........................................................................................................5 Thermal Expansion Moulding..14 8 Key Prepreg Processing Parameters .5 Polyester .................................................................................................................................2 Phenolic .............................................4 Filament Winding/Fibre Placement ..............................................................1.......................................................................3.....................................1 One-Shot Curing..............................1 Common Types of Fibre ....17 9................................................................................2 Press Moulding .................................................... 3 5 Reinforcements.............................................................2 Key Fibre Selection Criteria........................................................................................................ 7 5......................................11 7 Manufacturing with Prepregs .............................................................

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2 Introduction The term ‘composite’ is the generic name for a material manufactured from a fibre reinforcement embedded in a matrix material which is usually a polymer. It is possible to melt these polymers on heating and for them to solidify on cooling. Prepreg offers the fabricator total control of the manufacturing process. The most significant of these are: • • • • • • • • • Low density leads to high specific strength and modulus. An ‘advanced composite’ usually refers to a structure where high performance composite materials and component geometry work in harmony optimising performance. 3 Advantages of Composites Composites offer engineers a new freedom to optimise structural design and performance. Introduction_C1. The cross-linking process is not reversible. This creates a permanent network of polymer chains. Damaged structures can be easily repaired. Improved vibration and damping properties. There are two types of polymer matrix. Exceptional environmental and corrosion resistance. Very strong and stiff structures can be designed. A prepreg consists of a reinforcement material pre-impregnated with a polymer or resin matrix in a controlled ratio. thermoplastic and thermosetting. Very low and controllable thermal expansion.fm Page 1 of 20 . Thermosetting polymers/resins solidify by cross-linking. carbon fibre composites can be designed to be essentially fatigue free. Thermoplastics are made up of randomly orientated chains. A comparison of several key material characteristics is shown in Figure 1. increasing structural efficiency. The ability to manufacture complex shapes and one offs from low cost tooling. Potential for energy absorbing safety structures. Fibre can be orientated with the direction of principle stresses. Composites have several advantages over conventional metallic structures.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 1 General This document is an introductory guide to familiarise the reader with advanced composite materials and in particular thermoset prepreg technology. with substantial weight savings. It can be seen that advanced composites offer reduced weight. greater strength and stiffness. Excellent fatigue resistance.

transferring applied loads and protecting the fibres from damage. The matrix also governs the maximum service temperature of a composite. Phenolic resins are relatively cheap but can be difficult to process and compared to epoxies.fm .1 Epoxy Epoxies are available in many different forms and can be processed using numerous techniques. high toughness and good environmental resistance. aircraft interiors).An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 3 Density (kg/m 3 Density ) Wood Concretes Composites & Plastics Titanium Aluminium Steel 100 1000 10000 Tensile Modulus (GPa ) Tensile Modulus (GPa) glass aramid Composites carbon boron Plastics Wood Concretes Aluminium Titanium Steel 1 10 100 1000 Tensile Strength (MPa ) Tensile Strength (MPa) glass Plastics Concretes aramid Composites Steel carbon boron Wood Light Alloys 10 100 1000 10000 Figure 1: Comparison of Several Material Characteristics 4 Matrices In a composite. This section describes some of the key thermosetting resins used as matrices in composites. have poor mechanical properties. 4. the matrix supports and bonds the fibres.g. Page 2 of 20 Introduction_C1. They offer excellent mechanical performance. 4.2 Phenolic Phenolics are used where fire resistance/low smoke and toxicity outweigh all other criteria (e.

high stiffness applications where the benefits of weight saving are more critical than any additional material costs. which can cause problems with blistering. There are also a number of other fibres that are used for specialist applications. These systems can absorb water.fm Page 3 of 20 . Introduction_C1. 4. 4.4 Cyanate Ester Cyanate ester resins can retain their mechanical properties at extremely high temperatures (up to 350C).2 Glass Most commonly used is E-glass. They are used in high strength. These can be woven or stitched to produce a fabric. Glass is much lower in cost but denser than carbon and has lower strength and stiffness values. 5. and ultra high modulus grades.1. referred to as rovings (glass) or tows (carbon).5 Polyester Polyester resins are low cost but lack the performance of epoxy resins. with S-glass and Quartz used in specialist applications such as ballistics and where dielectric properties are important. Prepreg polyesters can be formulated without styrene and so do not pose the same health and safety issues as their wet lay-up counterparts.3 Bismaleimide (BMI) These are relatively expensive systems. 5. Fibres are processed as bundles of continuous filaments. Prepreg vinyl ester does not generally contain styrene. A summary of some of the most common types of fabric used in prepregs is given in section 5. They are often used in structures where only moderate mechanical and thermal performance is required. Processing is similar to that used for epoxy resin systems.1. carbon and aramid. intermediate modulus.1 5.3. 4.6 Vinyl Ester Vinyl ester offers a balance of epoxy and polyester performance and cost.1 Common Types of Fibre Carbon Fibres are available in high strength. high modulus. but they have excellent mechanical properties at elevated service temperatures. Bismaleimide resins are difficult to process due to their high cure temperatures and the low viscosity achieved during curing. 5 Reinforcements The most commonly used fibre reinforcements in composites are glass. but they are also expensive.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 4. Vinyl ester is superior to polyester in terms of performance generally being tougher and offering higher thermal resistance. A unidirectional (UD) prepreg is produced using tows or rovings directly from the manufacturer.

4 Dyneema Dyneema is an ultra high molecular weight polyethylene. TecnoraTM or TwaronTM.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 5.3 Aramid Known by the trade names KevlarTM.1. They exhibit excellent impact resistance and high temperature stability.5 0 H ig h Modulus High Strength C arbon C arb on E-glass S-g lass Aramid Polyethylene Figure 2: Relative Properties . Figures 2 to 5 give comparisons of these factors for a range of fibre types. Aramid is normally used where there is a likelihood of impact damage. 5. 5.1. strength and modulus.5 Zylon Zylon (PBO) fibres demonstrate superior tensile strength to aramid fibres. 3 2. Aramid has the ability to absorb and dissipate energy and has excellent abrasion resistance but suffers from poor compression performance. However.1. It is mainly used for applications that require impact resistance. Dyneema fibres offer good dielectric properties and have a low density. Their weaknesses include poor compressive strength and poor UV resistance. cost.fm . aramid.Density Page 4 of 20 Introduction_C1. they have poor temperature resistance and like. exhibit poor compression performance. 5.5 2 1.5 1 0.2 Key Fibre Selection Criteria Factors governing fibre selection include. density.

Modulus GPa Introduction_C1.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 High Modulus High Strength Carbon Carbon E-glass S-glass Aramid Polyethylene Figure 3: Cost Ratio 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 High M odulus Carbon H igh Strength C arbon E -glass S-glass Aram id P olyethylene Figure 4: Relative Properties .fm Page 5 of 20 .

1 Plain Weave Warp fibres are interlaced each time they cross weft fibres.fm .3 Fabric Styles Reinforcement fibres can be woven into fabrics. There are several different fabric styles which are commonly used in the composites industry. and those across the width.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 5000 4500 4000 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 High Modulus High Strength Carbon Carbon E-glass S-glass Aramid Polyethylene Figure 5: Relative Properties . The resulting fabric is very stable but difficult to drape around sharp profile changes.Tensile Strength MPa 5. Plain Weave Figure 6: Schematic of a Plain Weave Fabric Page 6 of 20 Introduction_C1.3. Plain weave fabrics can be woven with a heavy balance of fibres in the warp direction giving a near unidirectional format. as shown in Figure 6. 5. weft fibres. Fibres running along the length of a roll are referred to the warp fibres.

An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 5.3. as depicted in Figure 7. 1 under. Satin Weave (5HS) Figure 8: Schematic of a 5 Harness Satin Weave Fabric (5HS) Introduction_C1. The resultant imbalance must be accounted for in a laminate construction and it is normal practice to invert the plies around the neutral axis of the laminate. 5 harness . 2 x 2 Twill Weave Figure 7: Schematic of a 2 x 2 Twill Fabric 5. satin weaves are unbalanced (fabric with one side consisting of mainly warp fibres whilst the other is mainly weft). However. readily draping and conforming to complex profiles. A 2 x 2 twill fabric has fibres passing over two bundles and then under two bundles. This produces a much flatter fabric that can be easily draped to a complex surface profile. see Figure 8).fm Page 7 of 20 .3. ‘herring bone’ pattern.3 Satin Weave A fibre bundle passes over a number of fibre bundles and then under one fibre bundle (e. Subsequent fibre intercepts are offset by one fibre bundle creating a diagonal.2 Twill Weave The fibres pass over and under a number of fibre bundles. Twill weave fabrics have a much more open weave.4 over.g. due to the construction.

1 Hot Melt Processing The hot melt method can be used to produce unidirectional (UD) and fabric prepregs. A schematic diagram of the process is given in Figure 10. hot melt and solvent dip. -45. 0 90 +30 > + 60 90 -30 > .4 Multiaxial (Non Crimp Fabric – NCF) A multiaxial consists of orientated layers of unidirectional fibre (e. Multiaxial fabrics can be manufactured to produce heavier areal weights that are neither practical nor economic to achieve in a woven format. 6. Impregnation of the resin into the fibre is achieved using heat and pressure from nip rollers. +45.3. is supplied to the fabricator who can use it to lay-up a part. The reinforcements used in a prepreg can either be a fabric. In the first stage. The reinforcement (unidirectional fibres or fabric) and the resin film are then brought together on the prepreg machine. as shown in Figure 9. Multiaxials readily conform to complex shapes with the added advantage of rapid laminate thickness build up. 0 stitched together so it can be handled in the same way as a woven fabric. The final prepreg is then wound onto a core. However. 6. care has to be taken to ensure the laminate is balanced and very heavy fabrics can be difficult to tailor around fine details.60 90 +30 > + 60 90 Figure 9: Schematic of a Multiaxial Fabric 6 Prepregs A prepreg consists of a reinforcement material pre-impregnated with a resin matrix in a controlled ratio. 0. Page 8 of 20 Introduction_C1. (as described in section 5) or unidirectional (all fibres in one direction).1. This requires two processing stages.1 Manufacturing Prepreg There are two main methods of producing prepreg.fm .g. heated resin is coated onto a paper substrate in a thin film.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 5. The resin can be partially cured (referred to as B-staged) and in this form.

An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology Reinforcement Knife Matrix Heating Release film Heating Release film Prepreg Step 1 Matrix Release film Coating head Matrix film Release film Step 2 Reinforcement Film recovery Matrix film Release film Consolidation Heating Release film Prepreg Figure 10: Schematic of Both Stages of the Hot Melt Process Introduction_C1.fm Page 9 of 20 .

1.fm .An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 6.2 Solvent Dip Processing The solvent dip method can only be used to produce fabric prepregs. resin is dissolved in a bath of solvent and reinforcing fabric is dipped into the resin solution. This can be horizontal or vertical. Oven Release film Nip rollers Reinforcement Prepreg Matrix bath Release film Figure 11: Schematic of the Solvent Dip Process P ag e 1 0 of 2 0 Introduction_C1. A schematic of this technique. showing a vertical drying oven is given in Figure 11. In this technique. The solvent is evaporated from the prepreg in a drying oven.

Cure: This is the time duration and temperature needed for the resin in the prepreg to harden. by volume. Out life is lost progressively each time the prepreg is defrosted. Manufacturers normally state out life at a standard temperature. Void Content: This is the measure. Viscosity: A measure of the flow characteristics of a resin with respect to time. Resin Weight (%RW): Percentage of resin in the prepreg (by weight). Fibre Volume Fraction (Vf ): Percentage of fibre in the prepreg (by volume). Introduction_C1. of voids within a cured composite. (in alphabetical order). Out Life: Period of time that a prepreg remains usable at workshop temperature. Fibre Areal Weight (FAW): The weight of fabric used in a prepreg (gsm). Lay-Up: The number of plies and their orientation needed to produce a given part. Voids are air pockets trapped within the resin. This gives an indication of the maximum end use temperature. Flow: The ability of the resin to move under pressure allowing it to wet out all parts of a laminate. Vacuum Bagging Technique: This refers to the arrangement of vacuum bagging materials used when moulding a part via vacuum or autoclave processing. They can be caused by a number of factors and reduce the performance of the composite. Debulking: The application of vacuum pressure at specific points in the lay-up sequence to ensure full consolidation of the prepreg plies.2 Prepreg & Composite Nomenclature The following are terms commonly encountered when discussing prepregs.fm Page 11 of 20 . Tack: Measurement of the capability of an uncured prepreg to adhere to itself or to the tool. Shelf Life: The length of time the prepreg can be stored under specified conditions and remains usable. temperature and heat up rates.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 6. Glass Transition Temperature (Tg): Temperature at which a phase change occurs in the matrix. Tack Life: Period of time at a given temperature that the prepreg has sufficient tack. usually 21°C. Ply: A layer of prepreg.

7.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 7 Manufacturing with Prepregs The production processes for the manufacture of advanced composite components with prepreg requires two elements: • • Pressure to consolidate the laminate. The pressure exerted on the lay-up is normally within the range 3 to 7 bar (45 to 100psi).1. heated pressure vessel. up to 7bar (100psi). and the output relatively low. In autoclave moulding. The autoclave moulding process produces laminates of high quality with minimum void content. however. Recent developments in prepreg technology have seen wider use of low pressure vacuum bag processing (often referred to as oven curing or ‘Out-of-Autoclave [OoA]). An autoclave is a large. the part is placed in a vacuum bag to achieve initial consolidation and then loaded into the autoclave.1 Vacuum Bagging & Autoclave Moulding Vacuum bagging techniques have been developed for fabricating complex shapes. 7. whilst heat is applied to cure the resin. which restricts the use of the autoclave moulding process to higher cost markets where high quality is essential. Vacuum bagging utilises a flexible membrane under which a vacuum is drawn applying an even pressure up to 1 bar (14psi) to the lay-up in the mould tool. each for a specific purpose.fm . Vacuum Port Release Film Bagging Film Breather Sealant Tape Peel Ply (optional) Release Agent Tool Image courtesy of Richmond Aerovac Prepreg Stack Figure 12: Schematic of a Typical Vacuum Bag P ag e 1 2 of 2 0 Introduction_C1. which is used to help consolidate the part by subjecting it to an additional pressure. even in areas such as aerospace. The technique is employed to remove air and volatiles and consolidate the lay-up during cure. Heat to initiate and maintain the curing reaction. A schematic diagram of a typical vacuum bag. double contours and relatively large components. indicating each consumable is given in Figure 12. and control of laminate thickness is much better than that achieved by the vacuum bag moulding method.1 Vacuum Bag Consumables There are many consumable materials used in a vacuum bag. A summary of the consumables is provided in this section. The capital equipment costs are high.

Additional Air Extraction: Glass tows. Release Film: Allows removal of the vacuum consumables from the laminate. The tools are usually manufactured from machined or cast metal. The process can produce components of very high quality and consistency to very high dimensional tolerances. It can be solid or perforated (pin pricked or punched) with various hole patterns to control resin bleed during debulk or cure. Peel Ply (optional): Light weight fabric (polyester or nylon) applied and moulded onto the component surface. 7. can be pumped through galleries built into the tool.fm Page 13 of 20 . or pre-formed in a separate process to facilitate rapid loading in a hot tool. Pin pricked films allow only gas or very small amounts of resin (if viscosity allows) to escape. sealed over the laminate to form the bag and allow removal of air. this method is best suited to high volume production. and are produced as matched male and female halves. glass fibre or sprayed metal tooling can be used for short production runs. Introduction_C1.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology Release Agent: Allows release of the cured component from the tool. The tool may be heated directly by electric cartridge heaters installed within the mould or oil or steam. strips of glass fabric or peel ply can be placed around the periphery of the lay-up to provide air paths under the release film and into the breather (these are not shown on the diagram). NB dry peel ply will take resin from the laminate so care must be taken to not starve the laminate of resin which can lead to voids. Peel ply can be dry or impregnated with the same resin as the laminate. Punched release films allow more resin to bleed out of the laminate. usually nylon. This protects the surface and when removed can provide a surface for secondary bonding. the space between them defining the shape and wall thickness of the component being made. Due to the high costs of capital equipment and tooling. Various grades (weights) are available. Less expensive nickel electro-formed. Bagging Film: Polymer film.2 Press Moulding In press moulding. The prepreg is constrained within the tool and consolidation pressure is generated hydraulically. Solid release films do not allow any resins or gases to escape. Breather: Allows the free passage of air under the vacuum bag over the laminate to ensure the level of vacuum is equalised over the whole surface. Sealant Tape: Mastic tape used to seal the vacuum bag to itself or to the surface of the tool. prepreg is laid into a tool. When moulding small components the heat may be supplied via the heated platens of the press. Cure cycles can be very accurately controlled and high degree of automation can be achieved.

but it should be noted that the tooling must be rigid enough to withstand the internal pressure without distortion. UD tape (or impregnated fibre bundles known as towpreg) is wound onto a rotating mandrel. these are described below and represented graphically in Figure 13. and the tooling is simple and low cost. The assembly is then heated. Dwell/Cure: For each prepreg resin system there is a range of options for cure temperature/ duration. This is governed by numerous factors: matrix viscosity and reactivity.fm . 7. For highly reactive matrices and thick laminates. often manufactured from silicone rubber. The part can be cured in an oven with temperature and pressure applied for consolidation. 7. thickness of laminate. As the temperature increases. the heat up rate will be low in order to avoid exothermic heat build up Intermediate Dwell (optional): These are sometimes employed to help the component and tool reach the same temperature before the final cure temperature is achieved. and there is also a minimum cure temperature.4 Filament Winding/Fibre Placement In its simplest form. narrow. is placed inside the structure and inflated to apply consolidation pressure. a high differential thermal expansion takes place between the tool and rubber generating very high pressures which consolidate the lay-up.3 Pressure Bag Moulding A flexible bag.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 7. and therefore significant weight and production cost savings can be achieved. Components with very complex shapes can be moulded in a single cure cycle. The component must reach the given dwell/cure temperature and be held there throughout the specified cure cycle. 8 Key Prepreg Processing Parameters There are several key stages during a typical prepreg cure cycle. For each given cure temperature there will be a corresponding cure time. Consolidation pressure is achieved through tensioning the fibres as they are wound onto the mandrel. With the growth of automation this basic process is now being used to produce non circular components by utilising multi-axial robot placement which allows UD prepreg to be placed very accurately onto the tool surface. Thermocouples are generally used to monitor the temperature of the component and tooling. Heat Up: The heat up rate dictates how quickly the component/tool is brought up to the cure temperature. continuous. Prepreg layers are wrapped over blocks of rubber or foam and the lay-up then is restrained in a tool. and tool mass and conductivity. Intermediate dwells are often chosen at a temperature where the resin is at the optimum viscosity for removal of air from the part. This method is often applied to simple hollow sections such as tubes. P ag e 1 4 of 2 0 Introduction_C1. This method requires very little capital equipment. The tape or towpreg is fed via a translating head with an accurately controlled fibre feed angle to the axis of the rotating mandrel. The process is then referred to Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) or Automated Tape Placement (ATL).5 Thermal Expansion Moulding Thermal expansion moulding is generally used to mould integrally stiffened structures with complex forms. thus reducing the number of joints and parts.

200 180 160 Temperature (°C) He at min Up 1° ute C/ Dwell 2 hours at 180°C 140 1°C/ min ute Intermediate Dwell 4 hours at 130°C im wn T l Do Coo 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 /min e 1°C Hea t Up ute Total cure time: 690 minutes 100 200 300 400 Time (minutes) 500 600 700 800 Figure 13: Example of a Cure Cycle Including an Intermediate Dwell Introduction_C1.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology Cool Down: The cooling rate is controlled to avoid sudden temperature drops that may induce high thermal stresses in the component and/or damage to the tool.fm Page 15 of 20 . vacuum and pressure (autoclave only) can be applied and removed. Post curing is often carried out in an oven following an initial cure in an autoclave to reduce overall manufacturing costs or where low cost tooling has limited the temperature that can be tolerated during the initial cure Vacuum/Pressure: At specific times throughout the cure cycle. Post Cure: Further curing may be possible after the initial cure to maximise temperature resistance and/or mechanical performance.

03 1. Figure 15 demonstrates the increase in stiffness that can be achieved with the introduction of a lightweight core material into a monolithic laminate.25 1 1. Prepreg skin Adhesive film (optional) Honeycomb (or foam) Adhesive film (optional) Prepreg skin Figure 14: Schematic Representation of a Honeycomb Sandwich Panel 9.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 9 Sandwich Construction with Prepregs Sandwich construction substantially increases the stiffness of a structure with very little increase in weight. P ag e 1 6 of 2 0 Introduction_C1. see Figure 14. or stability under compressive loading. Thin high stiffness laminates such as carbon fibre are bonded to a low density core material giving a similar result to an I-section beam.1 Properties of a Sandwich Construction The stiffness of a composite panel is not only influenced by the fibre/resin content. Material is optimally placed to provide bending stiffness.fm .06 Figure 15: Comparison of properties of sandwich panels with a monolithic laminate. Solid Laminate Core Thickness t Core Thickness t t 2t 4t Relative Stiffness Relative Flexural Strength Relative Weight 1 1 7 3.5 37 9. it is also a function of the geometry of the panel.

9.2 Core Materials A wide variety of core materials exist. temperature resistance and cost. 9. Nomex: Lightweight with high mechanical properties.fm Page 17 of 20 . 9.2 Foam PU (Polyurethane): Moderate mechanical properties and can experience deterioration at foam/ skin interface with time. 9.2. Introduction_C1. PEI (Polyetherimide): Excellent fire resistance and temperature resistance up to 180C.3 Honeycomb Aluminium: Provides one of the highest strength/weight ratios of any core material. as well as good thermal and acoustic insulation. Low cost. Low density non woven mats can be pre-impregnated to form drapable core materials.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 9.2. generally cut ‘end grain’. Kevlar: Lightweight core offering superior shear performance to Nomex.1 Balsa Balsa. However. but expensive. it has a high density and can absorb large quantities of resin if not pre-sealed.4 Syntactics and Pre-Impregnated Non-Wovens A syntactic is a microsphere filled resin film (usually supported on a carrier or fabric) which offers very high drape and low density but relatively poor mechanical performance. SAN (Styrene Acrylonitrile): Similar to PVC. with varying structural properties. Some grades are prone to water absorption which can cause problems during processing.2. Expensive. Commonly used as fill in stringers. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Exhibits a good balance of static and dynamic properties as well as resistance to water absorption. exhibits high compressive properties. Potential corrosion problem if used in conjunction with carbon skins. Appropriate grades must be specified for elevated temperature applications Acrylic: High mechanical properties and temperature resistance. but tougher.2. Good fire resistance but expensive.

fm . an adhesive film is generally used. are often used to splice together sections of core.g. vacuum bagged and cured. i. 9. the facing skins and core are cured and bonded in one cure cycle. core and outer facing skin. boat hulls. Adhesives are formulated to offer toughness but also have controlled flow characteristics to ensure that a good bond is formed. especially when bonding to a honeycomb.1 One-Shot Curing In this process. In this method. the first facing skin is laid-up and cured. This is a fast manufacturing approach. e. P ag e 1 8 of 2 0 Introduction_C1. In this process.3 Sandwich Construction When bonding prepreg laminates to a sandwich core. The second cure bonds the core to the first facing skin and the third cure cures the outer facing skin. 9. appropriate for flat panels such as aircraft wing sets. The cured skin is retained on the tool and the subsequent components added. Cure inhibition of the prepreg can occur with certain resin/foam combinations. Moisture in cores and air entrapment are major factors in delamination.3. fill very tight corners or fill the edges of panels to help resist damage. Sandwich structures can be made in one operation but there may be practical problems on large structures.3. 9.3 Three-Shot Curing This method is sometimes employed to manufacture large scale parts. paste materials that are cure compatible with the prepreg. There are a number of methods by which sandwich structures may be produced. The whole assembly is then bagged and cured.e. the first facing skin is laid-up on the tool. Applying adhesive in this form gives good control of the overall consistency and thickness of the bond line. 9. such as Formula One car chassis.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 9.3. adhesive.3.2 Two-Shot Curing This is the most commonly used technique for manufacturing complex shapes.4 Notes on Sandwich Panels • • • • Flat sandwich components can be manufactured using a press. When building large sandwich structures.

offer guidance for materials selection in specific market sectors. accessible via the Group website. 10.fm Page 19 of 20 . or any of your composite materials requirements.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 10 Umeco Structural Materials Product Range Umeco Composites Structural Materials offers a wide range of prepregs and supporting products to service the advanced composites industry.1 Materials Umeco’s product range: • Prepregs • • • • • • • LTM® series – Typical cure temperatures: 20 to 80C MTM® series – Typical cure temperatures: 80 to 135C HTM® series – Typical cure temperatures: 135C to 190°C VTM® series – Typical cure temperatures: 65 to 180C Film Adhesives/Resin Films Syntactic Films Tooling Materials • • • Tooling Block and ancillaries Tooling prepregs Backing structures and ancillaries For further information on these products.com or contact one of our Technical Sales Representatives.umeco. Web-based product selector guides. please visit www. Introduction_C1.

Selectively slit UD prepreg An innovative prepreg system that combines short presented in a multi-layer 0/90 fibre conformability with the handling and laminate DForm® stack. Partially impregnated Multi-layer and partially format allows efficient air release during cure for the ZPREG® impregnated rapid lay up formats. 100% aligned Unidirectional fibres. Resin systems formatted for High accuracy mould tools capable of operating at Tooling stability at high temperatures. Full impregnation.2 Material Formats Material Type Prepreg Description Application All moulding applications. Syntactic/Core Filled. high temperatures. production of high quality surfaces and thick laminates. products. Full. P ag e 2 0 of 2 0 Introduction_C1. High stiffness applications. partial or one sided impregnation. characteristics of a conventional long fibre composite. lightweight resin film Rapid thickness builds up with low weight.An Introduction to Advanced Composites and Prepreg Technology 10. Optimised Surfacing products for the production of high quality finishes.fm . Rapid lay up of large parts. Adhesive Films Toughened resin film. Partially impregnated format for Surfacing Films the production of high class surface finishes. Plies Core bonding and part assembly. Woven or non-crimp fabrics.