A Brief Look Inside the Prepreg Manufacturing Process
Pre-impregnated materials (prepregs) are utilized in high-performance applications when weight and mechanical properties are top priority. Manufacturers from the aerospace, transportation, and sustainable energy industries benefit from pre-impregnated material properties. Advanced fibers such as carbon fiber and aramid with high-quality epoxy resins are the most common materials used in prepreg structures. By combining these two materials together, the finalized reinforced structure will encapsulate properties from the initial independent materials.
Let’s take a brief look inside the process of manufacturing prepreg materials.
Step 1: Prepregs Made from Thermoplastic or Thermoset Resin
The beginning stages of producing pre-impregnated materials are crucial to developing an application-specific composite. The application of the finalized composite should be analyzed in order to know which fibers and resins will provide superior properties. Prepreg materials can be reinforced with two types of resin:
- Thermoplastic Resin: Most commonly used to produce bottles, packaging containers, toys, appliances, electronics housings, automotive interiors, and much more. The addition of glass and carbon fiber allows for a much higher strength and reinforcement. An advantage of utilizing thermoplastic resins is the ability to reheat and reform the material numerous times.
- Thermoset Resin: Most commonly used for sealed products due to its high resistance to deformation. Thermoset resins allow for an improvement of the mechanical properties of the composite by providing a higher resistance to harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures, and an overall improvement of integrity.
Step 2: Removal of Excess Resin from Prepreg Reinforcement
One of the most advantageous aspects of replacing inefficient materials with prepregs is that the manufacturing process produces far less waste. The resin impregnation process precisely controls the fiber-to-resin ratio as well as ply thickness. After the fabric has been injected with the resin, excess materials are removed from the structure. During this time, the reinforcement undergoes partial curing, which is known as the B-Stage.
Step 3: Prepreg Curing with Low and High Temperatures
Another added benefit of developing prepreg reinforcements is that these structures require less time for curing. As the B-stage of the process initiates, prepregs require refrigerated storage in order to cure. After a short period in refrigerated storage, the curing process is then activated by applying heat and pressure from heating tools such as an autoclave. Thermoset and thermoplastic prepregs create durable, lightweight composite structures suitable for an array of applications.
Why Choose Composites One as Your Prepreg Supplier
At Composites One, we take your production methods and deadlines seriously. As the leading supplier of composites material in North America, our technical sales representatives are available to help you determine the most effective material for your production needs, as well as help you find the most efficient production methods. Contact us today to learn more about how we can meet your composites needs, or fill out a contact form on our website today.
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