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Vacuum infusion of natural fibre composites for structural applications

Symington, Mark C. and David-West, Opukuro S. and Banks, W.M. and Thomason, J.L. and Pethrick, Richard A. (2008) Vacuum infusion of natural fibre composites for structural applications. In: 13th European Conference on Composite Materials (EECM 13), 2008-06-02 - 2008-06-05.

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Numerous methods of manufacturing natural fibre composites have been reported in the literature, including compression moudling, often in conjunction with a hot press. Other forms of composite manufacture include 'Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Moulding' (VATRM) and the 'Seemann Composite Resin Infusion Moulding Process' (SCRIMP). These methods have been reported to produce natural fibre composies with reasonable mechanical properties [1-2]. In this paper, a vacuum infusion rig is described that has been developed to produce consistent quality composite plates for studies into optimising natural fibre composites. The process aims to harness the benefits of vacuum infusion and compression moulding, where vacuum infusion encourages the removal of trapped air in the system and hence avoid reduction, and additional compression moulding can help to achieve high volume fractions that are otherwise difficult in other processes.