The present article introduces a dimensionless number devised to assist composite engineers in the fabrication of continuous fiber composites by Liquid Composite Molding
(LCM), i.e., by injecting a liquid polymer resin through a fibrous reinforcement contained in a closed mold. This dimensionless number is calculated by integrating the ratio of the injection pressure to the liquid viscosity over the cavity filling time. It is hereby called the “injectability number
” and provides an evaluation of the difficulty to inject a liquid into a porous material for a given part geometry, permeability distribution, and position of the inlet gate. The theoretical aspects behind this new concept are analyzed in Part I of the article, which demonstrates the invariance of the injectability number with respect to process parameters like constant and varying injection pressure or flow rate. Part I also details how process engineers can use the injectability number to address challenges in composite fabrication, such as process selection, mold design, and parameter optimization. Thanks to the injectability number, the optimal position of the inlet gate can be assessed and injection parameters scaled to speed up mold design. Part II of the article completes the demonstration of the novel concept by applying it to a series of LCM process examples of increasing complexity.
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