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The use of composites has increased enormously over the past 20 years. The main consumers are the marine and aviation sectors, although the wind-turbine industry has developed in volume and now uses vast quantities of composites. Production efficiency is crucial as wind turbines increase in size and volume. If requirements for low cost and high quality are to be met, we need new and improved technologies.
(Published on October-November 2005 – JEC Magazine #20)
BY KELD LAURIDSEN, R&D MANAGER TECHNICAL DIVISION, FIBERTEX A/S
To meet such requirements, consumables must be flexible, durable, and easy to handle during the process. They must also save time and reduce the cost of the end solution.
A non-woven consumable
Compoflex® is a needle-punched non-woven polypropylene (PP) material designed to replace conventional consumables in composite manufacturing. Its microporous bonded side ensure s controlled penetration of air and surplus resin. This strong, lightweight material simplifies handling and offers environmental advantages. It is ideal for vacuum bagging, filament winding and resin infusion.
The vacuum-bagging process is simplified, since Compoflex® acts as a breather/bleeder, ensuring that no surplus resin and air are entrapped in the laminate during moulding of the fibreglass specimen. Air and surplus resin are pressed through the peel ply and the bonded side of Compoflex® to accumulate on the textile side.
The new consumable offers a number of benefits: It reduces cost, and there is no need to use release film. It requires less handling, because the product is thinner than a conventional breather. Air and surplus resin penetrate better through the microporous surface, and Compoflex® provides excellent peeling properties due to low surface tension.
The result is a homogeneous laminate without entrapped air; in addition, the PP used is an environmental advantage, compared to the disposal of PET breather/bleeder and PET release film.
Compoflex® can replace the peel ply in resin infusion/VARTM processes. Due to low surface tension, it peels off at 1/5 of the force required for conventional peel ply. Its numerous advantages include reduced cost and excellent peeling properties; it leaves a clean, bondable surface, which is excellent for post-processing procedures such as bonding; and it requires fewer post-processing procedures such as grinding or cleaning. Here again, using PP is an environmental advantage compared to the disposal of PA peel ply.
Compoflex® absorbs surplus resin in the filament-winding process and it peels off easily after moulding. Its main benefits include reduced cost, excellent properties in processes where compression and absorption are needed, and controlled resin penetration through the bonded side. In addition, no chemicals are used, so it leaves a clean, bondable surface, which is excellent for post-processing procedures such as adhesion.