Optimisation of the process parameters of the resin film infusion process.
Von Klemperer, Christopher Julian.
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The resin film infusion process or RFI is a vacuum assisted moulding method for producing high quality fibre reinforced components. The goals of this research have been to investigate this new process, with the aim of determining how the process could be used by the South African composites industry. This included factors such as suitable materials systems, and optimum process parameters. The RFI process is a new composite moulding method designed to allow fibre reinforced products to be manufactured with the ease of pre-preg materials while still allowing any dry reinforcement material to be used. The high pressures required for traditional manufacturing methods such as autoclaves, matched dies and R TM can be avoided while still having very accurate control over the fibre / resin ratio. Moreover, the RFI process is a "dry" process and hence avoids many of the environmental and health concerns associated with wet lay-up and vacuum bag techniques. Furthermore the simple lay-up process requires less skill than a wet lay-up and vacuum bag method. Through a combination of mathematical modelling and physical testing, a material system has been identified. The primary process parameters were identified and a strenuous regime of testing was performed to find optimum values of these parameters. These results were finally feed back into the development of the mathematical model.