Abstract

Low mold filling time and improper fiber wetting are the main problems faced by the manufacturers applying the Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) process. The objective of this work was to minimize these problems and to study the effect of weirs on the RTM process. A mold was designed such that the lower mold plate contains two weirs, one at the resin inlet port and the other at the outlet port. The purpose of adding the weirs is to provide a continuous inlet stream near the resin inlet port and to cause backpressure near the outlet port to induce complete mold filling. Laminated plates were prepared using glass fibers and epoxy resin (combination of EPON resin-862 and curing agent W). The test parameters investigated, such as void contents, dry spots and mold filling time, were compared with those of samples that were prepared without the use of weirs. It was found that the presence of weirs resulted in significant elimination of dry spots, minimization of void contents and a reduction in mold filling time. As a result, the cost required to manufacture composite parts can be reduced by the use of weirs.

In addition to the experimental investigation, a computer simulation (using LCMFLOT software) of resin flow inside the mold cavity was conducted. Many simulations were run in order to optimize the height and shape of the weir. Rectangular weirs of height 2.54 mm showed minimum mold fill time. It was found that the results obtained from the experimental work and flow simulations are in good agreement. Based on this work, it is evident that complex parts can be produced in less cycle time if weirs are positioned at appropriate locations.

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