An important step leading up to the aerobody construction is understanding composite materials. The carbon fibre fabric we received from Axiom Materials and Park Aerospace need to be characterized to verify our ply schedule and cure cycle.
Last week, Magna Exteriors & Interiors generously helped us to run a series of tests for this purpose. During our visit, we first prepared the sample panels using a Carver Press. The nomex core is placed between carbon fabrics and the panel is pressed and heated to the required pressure and temperature to cure.
We performed a DSC thermography to determine the exotherm of the samples at different cure temperatures. This test helped us identify the minimum cure temperature that our prepreg can withstand. Lastly, we tested the relative mechanical strength of the panel using three point bending test.
At the same time, we performed similar test on our fiberglass sample from the mould to determine the maximum temperature our mould can withstand. We also performed a heat deflection test on fiberglass sample to determine the thermal expansion of the fiberglass material.
The test results will help us decide final ply schedule for the aerobody. Confidence in the cure temperature to achieve mechanical properties we require.