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Cost and temperature homogeneity optimization of the heating system for composite materials air press molding

Author(s): 
Alessio Vita, Vincenzo Castorani, Marco Mandolini, Alessandra Papetti, Michele Germani (Università Politecnica delle Marche)

CHALLENGE - Due to their high strength to weight ratio, composites materials have been historically used in high performance applications. Nowadays, they are no longer considered elitist materials due to the decrease of manufacturing costs reached thanks to innovative process processes such as Liquid Composite Molding (LCM) or pre-preg molding. The latter is suitable for structural parts, but its use is limited to simple geometry components without undercuts due to the rigid counter mold.

SOLUTION - Thus, a method called Air Press Molding (APM) has been developed. It exploits an inflatable counter mold to compact the laminate on the mold. This paper presents a Multi-Objective optimization approach by using modeFRONTIER for minimizing cost and temperature inhomogeneity of the heating system of the APM process.

BENEFITS - By using Genetic Algorithms and the Response Surface Methodology, the authors redesigned a 1250 [kg] aluminum mold, reaching a cost saving of 15% and reducing the temperature variance of 77%.