Heating of thick continuous glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic plates via embedded metal mesh networks (2)
Publication Name: Journal of Composite Materials
Publication URL: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/00219983231182198
A method is proposed to locally heat areas of thick (>25.4 mm) continuous glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic (C-FRTP) composites with embedded wire mesh resistive heating elements. Four test specimens including 10.6 cm wide nichrome mesh heating elements embedded in C-FRTP laminates were fabricated and used for heating trials, showing that the composite can be locally heated to near the thermoplastic forming temperature over its entire thickness in less than 1 hour. The heating trials were simulated using a purpose-built finite difference model to investigate detailed temperature distributions. The simulations show that the internal resistive heating elements are capable of locally increasing the temperature of the composite with negligible effect on the adjacent material. Heating efficiency is between 73% and 77%, with temperature differences in the z-direction at peak temperatures less than 35°C. Temperature uniformity can be improved by longer heating times and more heating elements. The local heating method does not cause deconsolidation of the part. The heating method was also experimentally assessed on a more complex cross-section laminate with varying thickness and a foam core using stainless steel mesh heating elements. Results from the first heating tests were applied to the experimental assessment of the more complex laminate to reduce z-direction temperature differences. Numerical simulation of the heating of the foam core laminate showed a z-direction temperature range of 15.5°C. The results of this study show that embedded resistive heating is a cost-effective and simple method for heating a local portion of a thick fiber reinforced thermoplastic composite.