CAMX Demonstration: Vacuum Infusion Process (VIP) for Wind Turbine Blades
At CAMX 2022, North America’s largest composites conference, technical support experts from Composites One showcased how composites manufacturing is used to create wind turbines by demonstrating the layup of a blade section.
The Team used all glass structural flow media with an open weave pattern that resembled a window screen, noting that all the zero direction fibers are underneath the 90-degree fibers to build in two direct flow channels.
The core material, placed in the wind blade section, is covered with laminate. The technicians used roving to fill in any gaps, allowing the fibers to conform and to avoid resin-rich areas or voids. An e-glass reinforcement is then added along with a light mist of spray tack adhesive to hold everything in place.
Ready for vacuum bagging and consolidation pressure
Infuply from Aerovac, a combination of two different materials manufactured together, was then added to the stack. Infuply includes a flow media to promote the flow of resin and removal of air, combined with a perforated release film to improve the efficiency of layup.
A feed line is added in the form of spiral cut tubing wrapped in peel ply, with a vacuum line at the other end. The vacuum film is applied with corners tacked down with sealant tape. Once the bag is sealed, the layup is ready to connect the vacuum. Once the technicians run the vacuum hose, a drop-down test should be performed to ensure there are no leaks in the bag.
In the infusion process, all core material, reinforcements and process materials are loaded into the mold dry, allowing for plenty of set-up time and eliminating any resin gel time restrictions. Once all the materials are positioned correctly, and the vacuum bag and Infuply is tucked in at the corners, resin flow is ready to begin.
With a resin feedline connected, the machine is started to circulate the resin. The resin will flow to first fill up the spiral-wrapped tubing, across the Infuply, and saturate down through thickness of the laminate as you visually see the resin flow across the surface. G-flow provides more permeability to make sure all materials are wet out.
Technicians advise operators to watch the process to ensure a good connection to the vacuum source and a controlled flow, noting that watching the part closely will help indicate whether there is an issue or leak.
Along with products and materials to support all composites manufacturing processes, Composites One has a Technical Support Team for ongoing education on processes like vacuum infusion for Wind Energy manufacturers and other industry segments.
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