Vacuum bagging is a process for making composites that takes a typical hand lay-up one step further. Once layers of reinforcement and resin are laid-up by hand, the laminate is sealed in an air-tight environment, like a vacuum bag, and connected to a vacuum source. Vacuum is applied, creating mechanical pressure on the laminate throughout the cure cycle.
Vacuum bagging offers a number of distinct advantages over traditional methods. The added mechanical pressure compacts the laminate, removing air, humidity, and excess resin, which can all compromise the curing process and the performance of the finished part. In doing so, it improves the fiber-to-resin ratio, which is the key to maximizing the strength-to-weight advantages of any composite.
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Vacuum bagging materials and fundamentals will translate to vacuum infusion (also called resin infusion), which is an even more advanced manufacturing process. Rather than using vacuum pressure to remove excess air and resin from within the laminate, infusion uses vacuum pressure to drive resin into the laminate.
Both vacuum bagging and vacuum infusion will require some items outside the scope of traditional hand lay-up, including the vacuum bag, peel ply or release film, and a quality vacuum pump. Your lay-up will determine the size of your vacuum bag, and it's advisable to match the size of your vacuum bag with pump ratings. You can access vacuum bagging materials, pumps, fittings, tools, and more from the vacuum bagging category at FiberGlast.com.
Vacuum bagging is not necessarily a complex process and will, ultimately, produce laminates that are stronger and lighter.
Want to learn more about Vacuum Bagging and Resin Infusion? Fibre Glast has a free Learning Center with helpful white papers. You can learn more about Vacuum Bagging and Vacuum Infusion with free white papers like: Vacuum Bagging Equipment & Techniques and Vacuum Infusion - The Equipment & Process of Resin Infusion. You can also view a Basic Vacuum Bagging Set-Up diagram.
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