Composite laminates have been cured under pressure in a tunable microwave cavity. A 7-in. diam cavity with a sliding short was tuned to produce single mode or controlled hybrid mode standing waves at 2.45 GHz. Graphite/epoxy laminates were processed with power inputs as low as 2 W/g.
A low loss press was designed and built to operate inside the cavity. The press can apply 100 psi pressure on a 9-in. square laminate. An empirical approach has been used to develop processing conditions for high quality laminates. Graphite/epoxy composites were cured in 90 min or less. A simple on-off temperature control loop modulated power input to the cavity with a coaxial switch.
Mechanical testing and differential scanning calorimetry have been used to evaluate the composites. The material properties have been related to processing conditions.