SAMPE Journal - July/August 2016 - 51

Feature Article
(a)

(b)

Figure 1. (a) Quickstep Process Schematic5-6, (b) Quickstep QSE250 Machine and curing chamber5-6.

demonstration. A non-interlayer toughened system
P711AG-15 consists of #2511 resin designed for
OOA fast cure processing and T700G-12K-31E
fiber. The resin content is 35% and fiber areal
weight (FAW) is 150 g/m2. An interlayer toughened
system P2352W-19 consists of #3900-2B resin and
T800S-24K-10E fiber. The resin content is 35% and
FAW is 192 g/m2.
Methods
Quickstep Process Overview
The Quickstep process was described in details
by Brosius and Luedtke previously6. In summary,
the process utilizes a fluid-heated, balancedpressure, floating mold for the curing, partial curing,
and joining of composite materials. Rapid heating
is applied to an uncured laminate stack conformed
onto a rigid (or semi-rigid) tool floating in a Heat
Transfer Fluid (HTF). The tool and laminate stack
are separated from the circulating HTF by a flexible
membrane. The temperature and pressure of the
HTF behind the tool and flexible membrane stay
the same. The process uses vacuum, combined
with optional vibration, to evacuate air and volatiles
from the laminate as well as to compact the part
during cure. In Figure 1a the tool and laminate
are supported between two flexible membranes
SAMPE Journal, Volume 52, No. 4, July/August 2016

in the pressure chamber. Temperature control
is maintained by circulating the HTF through the
pressure chamber. As fluids have a heat energy
per unit volume capacity much greater than that
of gas, the heat transfer rate between the HTF
and laminate is much higher than that achievable
in an oven or autoclave. This allows rapid heating/
cooling rates to be achieved. The Quickstep
machine is displayed in Figure 1b.
The high heat transfer rate allows a lower
minimum viscosity to be obtained in the laminate
than that observed with a slower autoclave or oven
heat-up rate. This is made possible by the laminate
reaching consolidation dwell temperatures with
reduced chemical cross-linking having occurred
within the matrix. By achieving lower viscosities in
the laminate, excellent consolidation is obtainable
at low applied pressures, typically vacuum, plus 10
to 30 kPa (1.5 to 4 psi) externally from the fluid. The
HTF also acts as a large thermal sink, removing any
excess heat generated in a high-rate exothermic
reaction, thus a constant cure temperature may be
more easily maintained, even for thick laminates.

51



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SAMPE Journal - July/August 2016

Contents
SAMPE Journal - July/August 2016 - Cover1
SAMPE Journal - July/August 2016 - Cover2
SAMPE Journal - July/August 2016 - Contents
SAMPE Journal - July/August 2016 - 2
SAMPE Journal - July/August 2016 - 3
SAMPE Journal - July/August 2016 - 4
SAMPE Journal - July/August 2016 - 5
SAMPE Journal - July/August 2016 - 6
SAMPE Journal - July/August 2016 - 7
SAMPE Journal - July/August 2016 - 8
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