There is a need to manufacture advanced composite parts faster, cheaper and with less waste as interest in these materials for lightweighting components used by the aerospace, automotive, marine and energy markets continues to grow. For example, although hot gas torch heating is a well-established process for producing advanced thermoplastic composites parts in automated tape layup (ATL), researchers are looking at other polymer welding methods including laser, infrared and ultrasonic heating in an attempt to improve the process. This paper focuses on benchmarking the capabilities of a new method, ultrasonic consolidation, against another standard process for consolidating thermoplastic composites, i.e. thermal pressing. To accomplish this, 3-point beam bending tests are conducted on specimens made with both methods and flexural strength results were used as an objective comparison. The ultrasonic welding proved to be more effective in welding PET/Carbon tape than thermal, showing an increase of maximum flexural stiffness of 65% for the highest performing ultrasonic consolidation samples, but did not weld HDPE/Glass as effectively with the best ultrasonic samples having 36% lower stiffness. The quasi-isotropic samples showed very similar results. The results show that given suitable process parameters and a compatible thermoplastic composites system, ultrasonic consolidation of prepreg composite tape can be as effective as current thermal methods in terms of performance, but still manage to decrease the time and energy consumed.

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