Effects of Processing Parameters for Vacuum-Bagging

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processes Article Effects of Processing Parameters for Vacuum-Bagging-Only Method on Shape Conformation of Laminated Composites Yasir Mujahid 1 , Nabihah Sallih 1,2,*, Mazli Mustapha 1, Mohamad Zaki Abdullah 1 and Faizal Mustapha 3 1 2 3 * Correspondence: nabihah.sallih@utp.edu.my Received: 3 August 2020; Accepted: 18 August 2020; Published: 14 September 2020 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Seri Iskandar 32610, Perak Darul Ridzuan, Malaysia; yasir_mb93@yahoo.com (Y.M.); mazli.mustapha@utp.edu.my (M.M.); zaki_abdullah@utp.edu.my (M.Z.A.) Institute of Health and Analytics (IHA), Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Seri Iskandar 32610, Perak Darul Ridzuan, Malaysia Department of Aerospace Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia, UPM Serdang 43400, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia; faizalms@upm.edu.my Abstract: Complex composite structures manufactured using a low-pressure vacuum bag-only (VBO) method are more susceptible to defects than flat laminates because of the presence of complex compaction conditions at corners. This study investigates the contribution of multivariate processing parameters such as bagging techniques, curing profiles, and laminate structures on laminates’ shape conformation. Nine sets of laminates were produced with a concave corner and another nine sets with a convex corner, both with a 45◦ inclined structure. Three-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to quantify thickness variation and spring effect of laminated composites. The analysis for concave and convex corners showed that the bagging techniques is the main factor in controlling the laminate thickness for complex shape applications. The modified (single) vacuum-bag-only (MSVB) technique appeared to be superior when compared to other bagging techniques, exhibiting the least coefficients of variation of 0.015 and 0.016 in composites with concave and convex corners, respectively. Curing profiles and their interaction with bagging techniques showed no statistical significance in the contribution toward laminate thickness variation. The spring effect of laminated composites was investigated by calculating the coefficient of determination (R2) relative to that of the mold. The specimens exhibited a good agreement with R2 values ranging from 0.9824 to 0.9946, with no major data offset. This study provides guidelines to reduce thickness variations and spring effect in laminated composites with complex shapes by the optimum selection of processing parameters for prepreg processing. Keywords: processing parameters; vacuum-bag-only method; curing profiles; laminated composite; thickness variation; spring effect; Taguchi orthogonal array; analysis of variance 1. Introduction Currently, there is a paradigm shift in the lightweight structural application such as aerospace [1], automobile [2,3], maritime [4] and construction industries [5,6], where the use of traditional metallic structures are being substituted by advanced composites structures. The use of fiber-reinforced composites (FRC) is proliferating due to their preeminent specific mechanical properties [7–10], design flexibility [11], and fatigue life enhancement [12]. Additionally, the demand for FRC in these industries, especially aircraft and maritime, is growing expeditiously with anticipated demands to 􏰁􏰂􏰃 􏰅􏰆􏰇 􏰈􏰉􏰊􏰋􏰌􏰂􏰍 Processes 2020, 8, 1147; doi:10.3390/pr8091147 www.mdpi.com/journal/processes

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