Application of specialized elastomeric tooling for advanced e-beam cured composite structures

Rizzolo, Robert
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Walczyk, Daniel F.
Lewis, Daniel
Tichy, John A.
Samuel, Johnson
Bucinell, Ronald B.
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Mechanical engineering
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This electronic version is a licensed copy owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. Copyright of original work retained by author.
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Unfortunately, embrittlement of the silicone mask was noticed during flat panel production, leading to a series of tests to determine the effect of EB irradiation on silicone mechanical properties. Using a constraining ring for compression to simulate the environment within the EB-SETRI mold, samples showed a leveling out of bulk modulus properties (increase in bulk modulus +112%-+125% for doses between 400-2000 kGy). A complex geometry part (bicycle saddle) was chosen next to assess the capabilities of the EB-SETRI process and show market applicability. The resulting samples achieved high fiber volume fractions (62% maximum) and consistent thickness, despite mold degradation issues. Using the processing data from production of the saddles, discrete event simulations and corresponding cost models were created to assess market viability of EB-SETRI versus autoclave processing. Results showed comparable profit margins (70% for EB, 67% for autoclave), a significant reduction in energy usage (28% of autoclave), and significantly lower cycle times (138% more parts produced). Even with encouraging cost model results, the EB-SETRI process issues of poor infusion and mold degradation along with cost parity must be fully addressed before industry will embrace this new technology.
December 2016
School of Engineering
Dept. of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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