Nanoporous membranes are investigated as a means to improve the quality and repeatability of the Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM) process for affordable high-performance composites applications such as aerospace. A previous repeatability study indicated that the main types of variability were the thickness gradient and the existence of dry-spots in the laminates. A membrane provides a unique multifunctional solution to these problems by ensuring a uniform compaction and a continuous venting over the entire part surface. Exploratory experiments have shown that the choice of resin drives the choice of membrane. In order to efficiently use the membrane-based VARTM process, more knowledge needs to be generated about this new process. The fundamental mechanisms behind the compatibility membrane/resin issue still remained to be discovered and explained. This research aims at developing a model to capture the transport phenomena of the resin through the membrane. A simple model, based on capillary effects and convective flow, is compared to the initial experiments and serves as a baseline towards a more comprehensive model. Additional features of the model take into account the time-dependency of the resin properties, such as viscosity and surface tension. A unique setup using a high-speed camera is used to evaluate the dynamic contact angle between the resin and the membrane.
"On the Role of Membrane to Improve Quality of VARTM-Processed Composites". S. C. Amouroux, D. Heider, S. Lopatnikov and J. W. Gillespie, Jr. Proceedings of the American Society for Composites. 20th Technical conference, Philadelphia 2005
"Membrane-based VARTM: Membrane and resin interactions". S. C. Amouroux, D. Heider, S. Lopatnikov and J. W. Gillespie, Jr. SAMPE Fall Technical Conference, Seattle 2005
"On the role of membrane to improve quality of VARTM processed composites". S. C. Amouroux. SAMPE Journal 42 (1): 31-40 Jan-Feb 2006