Low-cost fabrication of advanced polymeric composites by resin infusion processes
The resin infusion processes RTM, RFI, and VARTM have been identified as cost-effective fabrication techniques for the manufacture of complex-shape composite structures. Dry textile preforms are resin-impregnated,
consolidated, and cured in a single step process that eliminates costly prepreg tape manufacture and ply-by-ply lay-up. The principles of the three infusion processes are discussed along with the advantages
of each technique compared with traditional composite fabrication methods such as prepreg tape lay-up and autoclave cure. The large number of processing variables and the complex material behavior during
infiltration and cure make experimental optimization of the infusion processes inefficient. Three-dimensional computer models have been developed which can be used to simulate the resin infusion processes.
The model formulation and solution procedures are presented and the material property input data required for solution of the model are discussed. Potential benefits of the model include reduced manufacturing
cost and risk.