The vacuum infusion molding process is becoming increasingly popular for the production of large composite parts. A comprehensive model of the process has not been proposed yet, making its optimization difficult. The flexible nature of the vacuum bag coupled to the varying pressure inside the mold cavity results in a variation of the cavity thickness during the impregnation. A complete simulation model must incorporate this phenomenon. In this paper, a complete analysis of the vacuum infusion molding process is presented. The analysis is not restricted to the theoretical aspects but also reviews the effect of the main processing parameters. The parameters investigated in this paper are thought to be those of most interest for the process, i.e. the compaction of the reinforcement, the permeability, the infusion strategy and the presence of flow enhancement layers. Following the characterization experiments, a 1-D model for the vacuum infusion molding process is presented. This model is derived assuming that an elastic equlibrium holds in the mold cavity during mold filling. Even though good agreement was found between simulation results and experiments, it is concluded that additional work is needed on the numerical model to integrate interesting findings from the experimental part.
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