autoclave process

Autoclaves are commercially available for various part sizes and process parameters. The diameter of autoclaves used for airframe manufacturing can reach 8 m or even more, and a length of more than 35 m.

The temperature can reach more than 400 C (especially for thermoplastic applications with PEEK) and the pressure more than 30 bar, but for most cases of thermoset epoxy prepreg curing 180 C and 7 bar are used.

Nitrogen gas is applied for an inert atmosphere within the autoclave to avoid inflammability. bellow Figure shows a bagged prepreg lay-up ready for the application of heat and pressure within the autoclave.

Vacuum bagged prepreg part with vacuum hoses ready for the autoclave process

In most cases, the bagging is a manual process. A typical bagging scheme is shown in below Fig. The tool is normally coated with a release agent in order to avoid unwanted adhesion of the part or its resin. In some cases it can be necessary to use a separating film for this purpose, too.

Typical autoclave vacuum setup

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