Process for Direct Composite Surface Coating
An Italian company, active in manufacturing processes of composites, for terrestrial, aeronautics and space applications, is offering a specific method for processing composite surfaces. This processing technique was originally developed to solve problems to PV modules of satellites, due to bubbles created underneath the adhesion surface. This proposed process of surface layering on top of the composite structure, can be applied in the automotive, aeronautic, defence and telecoms sectors.
PhotoVoltaic (PV) modules on satellites need to be applied on adhesive surfaces made of Kapton. Such layer is in turn applied over the composite structures of the solar panels Invisible unevenness and gases inclusions, embedded below the surface during the Kapton coating process, have the negative consequence of generating visible (and disruptive) bubbles, when the part is placed in vacuum. During the process of application of the PV modules on the ASI AGILE satellite, many problems arose, mainly due to the generation of uneven surfaces, bubbles that generated micro-cracking on the PV, and ultimately non-compliances in the satellite functionalities. This represented a significant problem during the assembly and testing phases under simulated conditions of the satellite. The proposed innovative process proved its capability to reduce to zero this problem and, at the same time, demonstrated to be simpler and more effective for the correct coupling of sheathing surface on top of composite structures. Following this manufacturing process, the Kapton layer was already embedded in the composite component during its consolidation. Besides the higher quality and fail-proof performances reached, this process is also characterised by a reduced number of manufacturing steps, hence resulting less expensive and faster. The donor company offers its know-how and engineering capability to integrate different types of functional layers on composite surfaces, following the technical requirements of industrial players. Such manufacturing process can find applications in different sectors, such as aeronautics, defence, automotive, telecommunications and similar ones. The proposed manufacturing process allows the reduction of integration steps though maintaining the component material functional performances, even under harsh environmental conditions (e.g. exposure to high thermal fluxes, irradiation, thermal strains and gradients, etc..).
Innovations & Advantages
The proposed solution improves the manufacturing of sheathed composite materials, keeping high reliability, improving surface adhesion and reducing defect occurrence, e.g. not allowing formation of air bubbles which could have disruptive effects when placed under vacuum or other environmental (thermal, radiation …) conditions. Furthermore, the overall process is simpler and cheaper, with respect to the current standard of application of sheathing composite layers, since no lamination under vacuum and white room is needed. All the manufacturing steps can be performed under standard clean rooms for material processing.
The donor has a strong background in the process of composites and has qualifications with the major end users, from aerospace, defence, automotive to energy and construction. The proposed process can be characterized by a high level of automation and sustainability.
Current and Potential Domains of Application
Automotive, Aeronautics, Telecommunications, Building, Constructions, Furniture, Leisure objects, functional materials, in particular those subject to stress conditions that may affect the surface layer. All those sectors in which the use of composites is gaining shares, and is foreseen to further grow in the future.