An Introduction to Composite Autoclave
An autoclave is a device which is used to sterilize supplies and equipment by subjecting them to high pressure standard steam for nearly 15- 20 minutes at a temperature of 121 degree C. However, the period of time and degrees depend on the contents and the size of the load. Autoclave was invented by Charles Chamberland in 1879 and the name from Greek and Latin means a self- locking device (auto- ultimately meaning self and clavis from Latin meaning key). In general, products that are manufactured in an autoclave don’t have many flaws, hence the majority of carbon fiber aerospace components are usually manufactured in an autoclave.
Why autoclave processing is necessary for some particular industries?
Because fiber- volume fraction and also the void content are very crucial to the overall performance of aerospace composites, usually autoclave processing has been the traditional way to optimize specific strength. But, autoclave processing is basically paired with high quality laminates of good materials .A composite autoclave can be manufactured to cure pressures as high as 3,000 psi and also operating temperatures close to 815.5 degree C.
Composite autoclaves are also usually suitable for processing parts that can be used in pharmaceutical and medical industries. The main component of Melco Steel autoclaves is the custom built, breech lock quick opening door. In addition standard features also include automated vacuum control, temperature monitoring, multilevel security options and also interactive screens.
The advantages of curing composites in an autoclave
One of the most dangerous processes when manufacturing composite laminates is the cure. Some of the usual forms of curing composite autoclaves include room temperature cure and oven cures. Depending on application requirements, composite autoclave system can typically be fabricated from stainless steel plates or carbon steel with thickness around 8″.
An autoclave cure provides superior laminate consolidation. In general, some pressurizing methods of autoclaves include air, CO2 and GN2. While heating methods include steam, electric and heat transfer fluid. They also have some standard features such as: encapsulated blower motor that eliminates the maintenance required for vessel shaft sealing; engineered circulating fan that assures a great heat transfer to the load; cooling coil as a single pass heat exchanger that is designed for excellent temperature control; proprietary method of securing insulation that will minimize heat loss; common electrical heating devices that cool coil in order to prevent radiant heating. In addition, composite autoclaves equipment capabilities include composite bonding and composite curing.
Disadvantages of composite autoclave
First of all, it has to be mentioned that autoclaves are very capital- intensive, which means that they are expensive to operate and they also limit somehow the component size. In addition, slow cycle times and labor intensity limit production volume in a significant dose.
Furthermore, there are some practical barriers. Aerospace composites most of the time, have not been under compulsion of cost during the past years, but since they become more popular, cost has become a more significant factor.
Finally we can say that composite autoclave will allow you to do things that you couldn’t imagine before.