Entrapment and venting of bubbles during vacuum bag prepreg processing

Gangloff J. J., Cender T. A., ESKİZEYBEK V., Simacek P., Advani S. G.

JOURNAL OF COMPOSITE MATERIALS, vol.51, no.19, pp.2757-2768, 2017 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 51 Issue: 19
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/0021998316676325
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.2757-2768
  • Keywords: Prepreg processing, resin flow, process monitoring, out-of-autoclave, VOID FORMATION, MOTION, RESIN, MODEL, FLOW
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes


During composites manufacturing with partially pre-impregnated fibers (i.e. prepregs) in Out-of-Autoclave processes, non-impregnated fabric cross-sections serve as air pathways to evacuate entrapped bubbles of air, moisture, or volatiles. The bubbles trapped within a laminate during processing lead to decreased structural performance. In this work, the motion of resin and bubbles during the processing of a characteristic prepreg is directly visualized in situ. This is performed utilizing a previously developed flow visualization technique under known pressure and temperature conditions. This study investigates the processing conditions under which a bubble succeeds or fails to meet and coalesce with available air pathways in order to escape the laminate. A key finding of this study is that tunable process parameters, such as pressure and temperature, are less important for successful bubble removal as compared to the initial state of resin impregnation in the prepreg. Prepregs with initially high states of resin impregnation will often fail to draw bubbles into air pathways through the center of fiber tow cross sections, whereas prepregs with initially low states of resin impregnation have clear pathways for bubbles to meet local resin flow fronts, coalesce, and escape. The relevant literature on the motion of bubbles in confined spaces is discussed. It is observed that small Capillary number theory (i.e. Ca<0.01) under predicts the relative velocity of bubbles, and the faster than expected bubble transport is likely due to effects given by the bubble aspect ratio via the fibrous micro-channel geometry.