Composite materials have seen amazing technological advances since they initially went on sale. Decades ago, they were less adaptable, durable, and visually appealing. Composite decking manufacturers now utilise advanced processing methods to boost strength further and enhance the quality of their materials.
According to market analysts, the global composite decking industry by 2026 will be worth more than 3 trillion dollars. This shows that the demand for durable, resilient, and lightweight decking options is growing.
Here are some of the most commonly used fabrication methods.
To manufacture thermoset composites, the most basic way of fabrication is the hand lay-up. This method entails manually laying down the prepreg layers to form a laminate stack.
After you’ve completed the lay-up, you must apply the resin to the plywood layer. A wet lay-up involves coating each ply with resin before layering.
One of the most inexpensive production methods for fibreglass composite materials is open moulding. Before fabrication, the part is coated with a release agent and gel.
To assemble the final product, use either the spray-up technique or the hand-layup procedure to apply the moulding ingredients to the mould. As you do with spray-ups, you should concurrently spray resin and chopped strands onto the moulding surface.
Then, use hand-operated rollers to compress the laminate and apply any core material during this stage. Spraying a final coat over the core materials helps to spread the materials out between the lamination. The finished product will be ready to be removed once the moulding has cured.
When employing the spray lay-up method alongside the hand lay-up, you can achieve labor-saving results.
Resin Infusion Methods
Composite decking materials are in high demand, so production capacity has to be increased. As a result, alternative approaches have increasingly encouraged the automation of fabrication, which has led many manufacturers to adopt methods such as:
Resin Transfer Moulding
Put dry reinforcement in the mould, and then, once the resin and catalyst have been mixed, use low pressure to pump the mixture.
Low-viscosity resin is used to get the preform wet before it hardens. The equipment doesn’t need an autoclave because it’s capable of producing high-quality parts.
Reaction Injection Moulding
This fabrication method makes a considerable difference to the moulding of the resin transfer. You implant them into two distinct streams instead of injecting the resin and catalyst as a combination.
The chemical reaction during the mixture then occurs in the mould rather than in the discharge head.
Vacuum-Assisted Resin Transfer Moulding (VARTM)
Other resin transfer moulding methods require the application of heat or pressure, but VARTM is different because it does not. Instead of forcing the resin into the preform with pressure, the VARTM pulls it in using a vacuum.
In addition, VARTM makes it simple to produce a substantial volume of inexpensive and sophisticated parts since it uses inexpensive tools.
The major benefit of the filament winding fabrication technique is that its material costs are inexpensive. In addition, the method is largely automated.
The most important field of application is golf club shafts.
Other commodities, such as cylindrical components, fishing equipment, and pressure tanks.
The initial step in this technique is to make patterns out of the material to allow for proper fibre architecture. After that, the materials are then loaded into a mandrel roll and compacted and debulked.
Bending strength is enhanced by keeping the pattern pieces at regular intervals.
This procedure is particularly beneficial for high-volume thermoset products. When you have to make more than 10,000 pieces, it is the best solution.
Sheet-making compounds are used to create composite sheet materials. It would help if you first lay down the resin paste, and fibreglass should be poured on top. Next, apply a final coating of resin paste to the fibreglass.
Several automotive manufacturers are researching using carbon reinforced sheet moulding materials. They aim to capitalise on the superior strength and stiffness to weight ratio of carbon.