Tonight, we did a simulated carbon fiber layup on our mold (with everything but the carbon fiber) to see if everything was working as it should, and so everyone on the team understands how the process works.
We began by resting 2-3 layers of breather fabric over the mold. Breather fabric is a sheet of cottony material that allows air to flow throughout the mold, maintaining constant vacuum pressure throughout. Next, we made a border around the mold with butyl strips in order to form an airtight seal, and placed the vacuum bag over the mold. This step was tedious since we had to make many pleats along the edge to keep the bag from bunching together, while remaining able to conform to the shape of our mold. After that, we turned on the vacuum pump and checked for any leaks. It was an exciting moment watching the air first begin to evacuate the vacuum bag, but soon we had to start thinking of ways to fix minor leaks and pressure issues – not surprising given how large the mold is.
We’ll be doing the real carbon fiber layups very soon, so hopefully they turn out well. I think everyone on the team learned something useful from tonight’s work session, so as long as all of us bring that to the real layups, we should be in good shape.