Fabrication and Process Optimization of Thick Laminates (= 40 ply) From High-Temperature Polyimide/Carbon Fiber Composites
ABSTRACT: Polyimide carbon fiber composites offer performance benefits unlike any other organic matrix material as well as tremendous operational cost savings for both DoD and commercial aerospace applications due to their superior strength-to-weight ratio when compared to titanium. To take full advantage of the weight savings of polyimide matrix composites, a full understanding of the reaction kinetics, volatile removal, and viscosity profile for both the polyimide condensation reaction and addition crosslinking polymerization is required. The primary objective for this Phase I SBIR program will be the optimization of a robust process for fabrication of 40-ply thick polyimide carbon fiber composite laminates. Maverick will focus our efforts on MVK-14 FreeForm as the polyimide resin system based on its processing ease and affordability, high-performance thermal oxidative stability at temperatures 500 degrees F to 550 degrees F and dual use capability for turbine engine components. Maverick and its team members have experience in developing such processes for MVK-14 FreeForm as well as other polyimide systems including AFR-PE-4. A full characterization leading to computational models for all reaction kinetics, volatile removal and viscosity profiles will result in a robust process for the fabrication of complex MVK-14 FreeForm carbon fiber composite components. BENEFIT: A successful effort of the proposed research would result in a full characterization and model generation for MVK-14 FreeForm carbon fiber prepreg that would result in a robust set of processing instructions that could be used by any high-temperature parts fabricator. The increase in manufacturing capability for this material would allow designers at aerospace companies to use more polyimide matrix composites for their applications, reducing weight and increasing efficiency for DoD and commercial applications. The combination of a robust, low cost process and increased design capability will result in a significant cost savings to the Air Force. The results of this SBIR will also be of benefit to the high-temperature polyimide matrix composite community. The methodology for the characterization and overall understanding of the thick laminate processing problems for MVK-14 FreeForm would apply to many other polyimide resin chemistries.
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