Vacuum resin infusion

After the experience with the first side of the mold, we decided to test vacuum infusion on the other half. I’ve always wanted to infuse—as very high fiber to resin ratios can be achieved—so we checked it out in a less critical part.

The laminate layout of the mold is:

  • six quasi-isotropic glass fabric layers with a total weight desity of 1660 g/m²
  • PET foam core of 5mm thickness (3D|CORE™)
  • six quasi-isotropic glass cloth layers with a total weight desity of 1660 g/m²

The area of one half is about 4 m² (43 sq. ft), which means that roughly 48 m² (517 sq. ft.) of glass fabric had to be laminated. That’s more surface than many flats in New York or London have…

Laminating all this layers by hand is quite time and strength consuming. It gets easily stressfull, in particular when resin is hardening and vacuum is needed as soon as possible to press the core. Depending on the vacuum pump, even a small leakage can be enough to spoil build-up.

When you infuse, you have plenty of time for making the dry lay-out and vacuum bagging. Not before everything is ready and fine, you start mixing the resin. Though less stressfull, it is still elaborate to make the full lay-out, and mix and degas all the resin in one shot.

We started by applying tooling gelcoat (Formenharz P). This time we did not use a thick coupling layer, but continued to laminate two layers of 160g/m² glass directly after the gelcoat geled (about 2 hours after application). A thin coupling layer smooths the surface and prevents air bubles between the glass cloth and gelcoat. This approach guarantees that the interface with the pattern is sealed, a must for vacuum infusion. Filleting and reinforcing the corners was conducted with carbon rovings this time, which adds some extra stiffness.

P1060432_m

After having created a tub for the vacuum,  the dry lay-out was made using Infutac (Diatex) to fixate the layers. When everything was ready, we started to mix and degas the resin (HP-E300RI from HP-Textiles):

P1060450_m

It is somewhat strange to have 12 kg (26 lb) of epoxi resin at once in a pot:

P1060453_m

The big show started at about midnight right after having all the epoxi together. It was the first time we saw infusion live and it was really impressive. The effort was worth it, even just for seeing the resin flowing into the lay-out, wetting the glass fibres making them transparent, and exposing hidden structures:

P1060473_m

We shot also a video of the full process, and hope you enjoy it as much as we do:

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