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Microwave Processing of Composites and Adhesives

Project Code: 0905-07


Understand the polymer behaviour when exposed to microwaves

The successful curing of three dimensional, large-scale structures

Identify methods to overcome the low interlaminar shear strength (ILSS) typical of out of autoclave (OOA) production methods

Compare economies achievable with microwave as opposed to conventional heating

Project Outline

Past research in the field of microwave curing of composites have primarily been on understanding the effects of microwaves on composites and not application-oriented. The question has been and still remains whether this technology is applicable for large-scale structures. Until recently, microwave equipments were not capable of taking this technology forward, mainly due to inhomogeneous heating zones/rates. The Hephaistos microwave - designed and built exclusively for curing composites, allows this technology to be applied for large-scale parts. Its unique interior geometry, together with its unique waveguides, allows the fast and even heating of the part to be cured. However since microwave is only the heat source, the inherent difficulty exists in tackling one of the drawbacks of composites, its relatively poor interlaminar shear strength (ILSS) - this is even more critical with out-of-autoclave composites. Additionally, as the use of composites increase, it is necessary to overcome the difficulty of recycling these novel materials, as well as keeping the production cost and recycling cost of production to a minimum.

Relevant Industry Sectors

Aerospace, Automotive, Marine, Military

Technical and Economic Benefits

Increased productivity Curing of composite parts possible in a matter of minutes.

Reduced costs Energy efficient, shorter cure-cycles and therefore more efficient use of equipment and personnel.

Improved reliability Can selectively heat specific areas within the part.

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