The OptiMold monitoring unit is based on advanced electronics allowing for the in-situ and real-time measurement of the ultra-high electrical resistance (up to 50 TOhm=5 1013 Ohm) of the cured thermoset resins in harsh environments. The OptiMold unit is also measuring the accurate temperature of the resin through a pt100 sensor which is always integrated in our cure durable of disposable sensors.
The electrical resistance in combination with the measured temperature and proprietary software can provide quantitative and qualitative indicators about the state of the resin such as resin aging, viscosity, gelation and end-of-cure, as well as real-time degree of cure and Tg evolution.
Compared to other dielectric systems, OptiMold has been optimised for composites processing, so it is more powerful, faster and cheaper, more reliable and less vulnerable to carbon fibres and better suited for long cables needed in autoclaves/ovens. Last but not least it can be combined with a large range of proprietary sensors which can be installed in the mould and in the feeding or the evacuation lines for RTM, LightRTM, Vacuum Infusion and their variants. To monitor more than one location in a mould, multiple units can be connected in parallel through a local wired or wireless network.
Besides process development, OptiMold
can be used in production for online quality control and certification, mixing ratio/quality check or identification of other deviations. In combination with the POT
can identify in real-time the exact age of a monocomponent resin batch, providing feedback to the operator whether to add fresh resin or to adjust the optimal path to maintain product quality. In the graph on the right, the direct connection between the age of a batch and its resistance is proven, validating the use of the OptiMold
OptiMold can be also combined with an inline sensor to clearly distinguish when mixing ratio deviates as low as 3 % so corrective actions can be taken to maintain quality and speed.
Other processing features that can be picked up by the OptiMold system are the existence of additives in the resin e.g. thermoplastics or nano-size additives.
The OptiMold system has been used successfully in process monitoring of microwave curing processes.