Autoclave manufacturing has been essential for decades, and as technology has evolved, so has its design. Where autoclaves used to be crucial to textile, timber, food and sterilizing sectors, they now also play a significant role in the advanced composited and investment casting industries.
Needless to say that if you’re manufacturing these parts, safety and quality are constant concerns. So, here are a few tips on how to improve your autoclave manufacturing and performance.
Let’s dive in!
Where resin systems are involved, temperature control is critically important. It’s crucial to achieve a uniform temperature inside the autoclave. Autoclave manufacturing relies on several methods to accomplish this, including direct and indirect heating systems using either electricity or gas.
Many manufacturers are devising systems to control and monitor temperature, pressure, vacuum, and other parameters via a thermal control system. Performance can also be improved using vertical airflow, as this is inherently more uniform than horizontal flow.
Areoform Ltd. has also developed a unique autoclave design to optimize internal temperature distribution. A circumferential airflow technology system (CATS) divides the autoclave. Through uniform zone size and spacing, a temperature profile for each zone can be programmed into a single controller, which enables localized control.
Monitor the Curing
The cure cycle has a substantial impact on the quality of finished composites. However, variations in the sequence, even minor ones, can harm laminate properties. But, never fear, the overall quality can be improved through advances in autoclave technology. These include modern control systems and new configurations for ducts and heaters.
Another way to improve performance is to monitor resin properties during cure and thereby closing the control loop. In the future, autoclaves might be able to adapt to cure conditions in real-time.
Maintain Uniform Pressure Distribution
One priority of autoclave manufacturing is to facilitate uniform pressure even to the most complex part contours. Alongside consistent temperature, equal pressure is crucial for ensuring ideal sterilization, especially within the medical industry.
For optimal performance, it’s crucial to keep in mind that uniform temperature depends on the size, shape, and material of the tool that’s being treated inside the autoclave. Because numerous factors can affect the process, composite manufacturers must set up a set of instructions for each combination of autoclave and part batch.
In light of that, there’s an increasing trend towards control systems that can adapt to changing conditions. This then reduces the need for a trial and error approach required to develop these recipes.
The Future of Autoclave Manufacturing
While autoclave manufacturing has served various industries for decades, manufacturers are continually devising new technologies to improve their heating systems.
The priority of this research is to establish uniform temperature and pressure controls, and finding ways to monitor and manage the curing cycle. Localized control through zone-segmented autoclaves also adds to the performance and provides better ways to regulate and monitor the process.
Do you still have questions? If so, contact us today, and we’ll help you the best we can. Speak soon!