The composites made of continuous fibers in the form of unidirectional and fabric prepregs are widely used in many fields of engineering for the production of lightweight and durable parts or whole structures. To achieve this, we not only need to possess knowledge of the composite mechanics, but also have to master the technology. In most cases, particularly for parts with advanced geometric shapes, autoclaving technique is used. The success of the carried out process occurs when the prepreg reaches the proper temperature throughout its volume in the specified time, where there are no overheated or unheated zones as well as when the prepreg is correctly pressed against the mold. In order to ensure adequate stiffness, the mold has much greater thickness than formed composite and the stiffening ribs. The result is that the time required for prepreg heating is greatly extended. To prevent this, the appropriate electric heaters embedded in the silicone grips are used.
The paper presents problems related to the mold structures and application of numerical methods aiming at early verification of the temperature and stress distribution. The coupled analysis of CFD (computational fluid dynamic) and heat transfer structural simulations were performed in Abaqus program. The studies were carried out for the airfoil fragment. A total of 12 simulations were conducted, 6 cases in which heat was supplied only from air flowing through the autoclave and 6 cases which included heaters inside the silicone grips. In the result the inhomogeneity of prepreg heating for each of the mold geometry was compared, and the average temperature was obtained after 60 seconds from the process initiation. Both the pressure inside the silicone grips (before inserting the mold into the autoclave) and the non-uniform temperature distribution result in the formation of stresses whose values were analyzed for molds made of aluminum. For this purpose the temperature dependent elastic – plastic material model was used for aluminum molds.
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