Two major targets of current composites manufacturing research are the automation of lay-up and the development of vacuum bag only (VBO) cure. Currently regular debulk cycles are often required to obtain good as-laid quality, and autoclave cure is needed to obtain an adequate cured laminate quality. This paper will present data from a purpose-built automated lay-up simulator that has been developed to offer very well controlled lay-up. It is shown that high quality laminates may be manufactured without debulk cycles and cured under a vacuum bag without additional pressure by sufficiently compacting each ply during layup. This is achieved using layup temperatures and pressures falling outside the range attainable by the current generation of ATL/AFP machines and a development strategy is proposed to achieve the development of more capable equipment. (c) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Heat treatment
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