Composite flow simulation tools for LCM processing can be expensive and time-consuming but necessary to design a mold system with proper placement of resin inlets and vacuum outlets. Composites manufacturing engineers would benefit from data regarding the impact of mold curvature radius on resin flow. This could help determine whether or not a particular part and mold would require expensive simulation software designed to handle complex flow paths through curved fabric architectures exhibiting variable permeability over the curvature, or if simple flow modeling would provide accurate enough simulations for sound tooling setup decision making. Four molds, with double curvature having equal radii, were fabricated with radii ranging from 3.2 to 25.4 mm to characterize the permeability of two different fiber reinforcements 1) a carbon biaxial NCF and 2) a fiberglass CSM over the mold curvatures. Three infusions of each material type were conducted on each of the 4 molds for a total of 24 test infusions. Flow front position vs. time data was captured during each experimental infusion. The permeability in the bend regions, KB, was first estimated by the integrated form of Darcy's Law to evaluate the permeability for average flow across the entire bend region. This was done for both the convex and concave regions using a geometric estimate for the increased compaction in the bend regions. The permeability increases as the tool radius increases, and the rate of increase diminishes as the tool radius increases and the permeability approaches the flat region permeability. An estimate of KB for VI was then made by applying a ratio calculated from the resulting permeability from the rigid- and VI-based models in the flat regions. Generic power law fits are reported that could be used in LCM process simulation, to give a model to estimate the permeability for any bend in the reinforcement part geometry. The results suggest that any curve with a radius higher than 25 mm requires no adjustment to the flat permeability.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





LCM, RTM, VARTM, VI, RI, permeability, curved permeability, composites, flow simulation



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Engineering Commons