Resin transfer molding (RTM) is an infusion-based closed-mold manufacturing process where resin is injected into a preform of dry reinforcement to create a net shape part. Often, when a preform is draped over a mold with complex geometry, such as the double curvature of a dome, a reorientation of the fibers takes place in the form of in-plane shear. This deformation of the reinforcement structure has the potential to adversely affect the resin flow and the filling of the mold during RTM if the manufacturer fails to properly account for the shear effects. Various process simulation tools are being developed and used to simulate infusions in a virtual environment and assist manufacturers in optimizing tooling features and process parameters before needing to invest in tooling or prototypes. Such simulation requires material characterization of the resin viscosity and reinforcement permeability. The latter is a function of the reinforcement architecture and is highly sensitive to perturbations such as shear. Permeability measurement is well represented in the literature, but for ideal fabric arrangements without the deformations caused by complex mold geometries typical to industrial parts. The purpose of this study is to develop the first method for measuring the three-dimensional (3D) permeability tensor of a sheared fiber reinforcement in a single test and empirical models to show the effect shear has on permeability. The method and models are intended to enhance the accuracy of infusion simulation and further advance the development of liquid composite molding processes. Building off the work of previous researchers who have used trellis tools to induce uniform shear on fabric samples and 3D point-infusion tools for radial flow tests, these two methods were combined to measure the sheared permeability of a carbon fiber non-crimp fabric (NCF) in the x, y, and z directions. To mitigate the amount of spring-back that occurs when transferring the sheared preform from the trellis tool to the permeability tool, a method of incorporating an adhesive binder into the preform is presented. Lastly, the permeability data obtained from testing samples sheared at 0, 10, 20, 30, and 40 degrees is documented. Mathematical models are provided based on the data gathered in this work that show the permeability of a NCF in the x, y, and z directions as a function of shear angle. The resulting models indicate an inverse correlation between permeability and shear due to the reorientation of the fibers and closure of preferential flow channels in the preform. These models can be used to predict the permeability for shear angles less than 40 degrees. To validate these results, theoretical shear permeability models are included for comparison. Recommendations for future studies involving the measurement of 3D sheared permeability are discussed.



College and Department

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



Date Submitted


Document Type





composites, liquid composite molding, RTM, permeability, 3D ellipsoidal flow, shear



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Engineering Commons