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Specialized Elastomeric Tooling for Resin Infusion (SETRI) Applied to Bio-based Composites



The capabilities of Specialized Elastomeric Tooling for Resin Infusion (SETRI), a low-cost and -energy autoclaving alternative for consolidating and curing thermoset composite parts, are expanded to bio-based composites through a demonstration project. Specifically, multiple flat laminate parts (consisting of a 10-ply stack of woven cellulose fiber with a high bio-content, recyclable epoxy resin matrix) are infused with resin, consolidated between a temperature-controlled rigid tool and matching rubber-faced tool specially engineered to provide uniform pressure under load, and then thermally cured in place. As expected, parts made using this process are thinner, have higher stiffness and strength, and have fewer surface voids as consolidation pressure is increased. Experimental results reported include infusion observations, part thickness, surface roughness, tensile strength/modulus, and flexural strength/modulus. Following consolidation and curing, the recyclability of the cellulose textile is assessed by dissolving the commercially available bioresin in a dilute acetic acid bath to create a recyclable thermoplastic. Future work includes demonstration for complex 3D shapes with laminate and sandwich construction, recycling and testing of different natural fiber materials (e.g., jute, flax), recycling of the dissolved thermoplastic resin for future use and reuse of the recycled textiles in other biocomposite components.

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