Optimisation of tool design and RIFT process
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In Report D 1.1.3, two monomers: methyl methacrylate (Elium®) and L-lactide were selected for in-situ polymerisation infusion manufacturing of natural-fibre reinforced thermoplastic-matrix marine composites, by considering the processing temperature and viscosity, polymer mechanical properties, recyclability, etc. In this report, the composite production procedures are reported and the tooling and processing parameters are optimised towards better mechanical properties. The Elium® was straightforward to use (room temperature infusion) with similar processing to conventional thermoset epoxy and unsaturated polyester resins, and its composite showed relatively high mechanical performance, especially following post-curing. The processing of L-lactide is far more complicated as there is no infusion processing standard given that the material is not marketed as an infusion monomer by the supplier. The effects of the processing parameters and vacuum level have been investigated, but while composite plates have been produced, the measured mechanical performance of PLA matrix composite fall short of the estimated values from rules-of-mixture predictions.
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