Take a typical hand lay-up for making composites one step further with vacuum bagging. 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.
The advantages of vacuum bagging over traditional methods?
- 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.
- This compaction 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.
Vacuum bagging relies on external pressure from a vacuum bag to consolidate and cure the composite materials, while vacuum infusion involves drawing resin through the fabric using a vacuum and controlled resin flow. Vacuum infusion offers greater control over resin distribution and is commonly used for larger and more complex parts, while vacuum bagging is often used for smaller to medium-sized parts.
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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