What Composite Manufacturers Want Clients to Know About Prepregs


What Composite Manufacturers Want Clients to Know About Prepregs

When it comes to purchasing composite materials, companies do not always fully understand their actions. We get it. Composites are complex. Fully understanding them when they are not your specialty is difficult, if not impossible. Take prepregs. There is a lot more to them than just fiber material saturated with resin.

Prepregs can be invaluable to composites manufacturing and fabrication. But when clients do not fully understand them, they may not be utilized as often as they should be.

From our experience, here or some of the most important things composite material manufacturers want clients to know about prepregs:

1. They Improve Quality

Prepregs are essentially composite materials consisting of a fiber reinforcement impregnated with resin. At the manufacturing site, they are ready to go. You simply remove them from their packaging and apply them to a layup.

One of the main advantages prepregs offer is improved quality through repeatability. Prepreg materials offer superior consistency that minimizes the risk of voids in a layup. You get better product quality – even over the long term.

2. They Reduce Processing Time

A typical prepreg contains resin that has already been B-stage cured. As such, finished layups need less curing time. That translates into faster production cycles and potential cost savings. However, the downside is that partial curing impacts manual layups. You need skilled fabricators to work with prepregs.

3. Prepregs Reduce the Scrap Rate

Prepregs can be purchased in a wide variety of forms. The two most common are sheets and tapes. Regardless, different forms can be ordered depending on the project at hand. Mixing and matching the right forms for each project minimizes scrap. Reducing scrap rates is important on any project, but especially critical when you are spending money on more expensive high-performance materials.

4. They Can’t Be Stored Indefinitely

Although prepregs have a lot of upsides, they also have some downsides. For example, prepregs cannot be stored indefinitely. They have a limited shelf life due to the resin being partially cured. How long a product’s shelf life is depends on a combination of resin profile and storage temperature.

Ideally, composite materials companies expect their products to be stored in cold environments. Think of a freezer or refrigerator. Colder temperatures prevent premature curing. Without the right storage facility kept at the right temperature, a client could waste a lot of money on prepregs that ultimately can’t be used.

5. There Is a Right Way to Handle Prepregs

Because prepreg resins are partially cured prior to shipping, they require delicate handling during layup. Prepregs are quite tacky. The fibers are also fragile. This all translates into the reality that fabricators need to invest in certain equipment to use prepregs safely. They also need to develop handling policies and procedures that minimize the risk of damage.

To that end, manufacturer expertise and employee training are invaluable. Manufacturers can be sources of valuable information on selecting products for various applications. Some even go so far as to provide training that helps clients make the most of their prepregs. However, note that guidance and training vary from one manufacturer to the next.

We have come to truly appreciate prepregs here at Axiom. Composite materials manufacturers offer prepregs that reduce layup and processing time, eliminate waste, increase productivity, and contribute to consistency and repeatability. These are all things we like to see in composites manufacturing. If you have any questions about our prepregs, do not be afraid to ask.