Host Institution: The University of Nottingham
Principal Investigator: Professor Derek Irvine
The main aim of this feasibility study is to design MTM equipment to be compatible with microwave processing facilities and to understand the key parameters of the manufacturing process. Some microwave assisted processing has been considered in fibre-reinforced thermosetting resin systems and RTM, however focus has largely been on heating the resin prior to injection and on post curing to ensure completion of the reaction. Furthermore, thermoplastic systems are rarely considered, with the majority of those being nanocomposite materials. For fibre reinforcement the use of microwaves is restricted to either warming pre-pregs or as an alternative mechanism to directly heat the mould itself. The MTM process will use microwave heating to drive the polymerisation process directly such that processing from monomer becomes viable by delivering primarily rate enhancement, along with additional improvements in fibre/matrix interface and superior matrix quality, thus providing a step change in the technology.
The project fits within the High rate deposition and rapid processing technologies priority area of the Hub and fits to both of the grand challenges. The project will improve understanding of microwave composite processing to create a robust and high processing rate technology that could be extended to multiple thermoplastics.