Project

 

The Mu-Tool process is unique and a step change in current heating processes, in that the mold is developed to heat selectively when exposed to microwave radiation. A thin and low mass ‘microwave absorbing layer’, forming the mold surface, supported by a microwave transparent ceramic backing will heat rapidly and conduct that heat to the composite component, resulting in a more rapid heating and efficient processing. Consequently, upon removal of the microwave power, the low thermal mass of the absorbing layer allows the mold surface to cool rapidly, increasing the productivity of the molding process. Upon completion of the process, the ceramic tooling and the microwave chamber will remain relatively cool, such that the work-piece can be extracted from the chamber rapidly, and the process can be repeated. The time and energy consumed for heating will be reduced. It is estimated that:

  • A typical component presently requiring 90 minutes processing time, could be cured in 45 minutes by this method – by purely removing the time required for the chamber and tool to heat/cool and some level of process optimization.
  • The amount of process energy required could be reduced (the estimate is a 90% reduction). Based on the Specific Energy Consumption for RTM2 of 12.1MJ/kg, a 90% energy saving in mould heating is predicted, resulting in an overall process energy saving of 33%).

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