Born and raised in Puerto Rico, I am a rising senior at UPRM on Mechanical Engineering, with a minor in Materials Science and Engineering. My field of interests lie on thermal engineering applied to aerospace design concepts or renewable energy. What drives me every day is environmental preservation and new technology advancements to help make a greener world.
Using Nano-Engineering for Enhanced Manufacturing of
Advanced Carbon Fiber
Carlos Catalano1, Carolina Furtado2, Palak Patel2, and Brian L. Wardle2
1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez
2 Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Composites are materials that are made up of a matrix (resin) and a fiber (carbon). In this project, NECSTLAB proposes a new, more efficient, and less expensive method to cure composite materials when compared to commercial autoclave methods. The method consists of using a nanoporous network (NPN) between composite plies that, through capillary pressure, can reduce void content within carbon fiber plies, without the need of external pressure (typically needed in composite manufacturing). This method has been shown to preserve composites’ mechanical properties without the cost of using an autoclave. Firstly, out of three different thicknesses of the same NPN material, the thinnest one was chosen to do new L-shaped samples since it had the least effect on the overall sample thickness and the interlaminar region, while being effective at void removal. The L-shape was chosen to assess the NPN’s efficiency to remove voids in complex geometries. Three types of L-shape samples were manufactured: No NPN, NPN, and cured in an autoclave (also without NPN, the “baseline”). They were then cut and scanned under an X-Ray microscope for void content. As expected, both “NPN” and “autoclave” samples had no significant void content while “No NPN” did have a significant amount of voids. Future work includes performing a curved beam interlaminar tension test and comparing performances of all three types. If results are as expected, this new manufacturing procedure can replace autoclave curing method and lower production costs of composite materials.