Optimal curing for thermoset matrix composites: Thermochemical considerations

Min Li, Qi Zhu, Philippe H. Geubelle, Charles L Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A design sensitivity analysis is used to optimize the applied wall temperature vs. time in autoclave curing for thermoset matrix composites. The calculation minimizes the cure time and obeys a maximum temperature constraint in the composite. The transient, coupled thermal and cure problem is solved by a finite element method. Design sensitivity information is extracted efficiently from this primal analysis, based on an analytical, direct differentiation approach. The sensitivities are then used with gradient-based optimization techniques to systematically improve the curing process. The optimal cure cycles for different numbers of temperature dwells may be similar (for a 2 mm thick part) or very different (for a 4 cm thick part), depending on the nature of the problem. In the latter case a large reduction of cure time is obtained when a three-dwell cure cycle is used, and the optimizer has more flexibility to adjust the cure cycle. This systematic optimization approach provides a powerful and practical means of optimizing composite manufacturing processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-131
Number of pages14
JournalPolymer Composites
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • General Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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