In addition to all of our generous sponsors for Zephyr, we would like to thank some of our new and returning sponsors for our upcoming 9th generation vehicle, Tachyon. We are proud to present Airtech Advanced Materials Group’s sponsorship for Tachyon.
Airtech Advanced Materials Group is the largest manufacturer of vacuum bagging and composites tooling materials, and has facilities all around the world. They have sponsored CalSol with vacuum bagging supplies since Goldrush, and we are glad to continue our partnership for next vehicle.
CalSol uses vacuum bagging to ensure proper lamination in the finished part. In essence, we seal our composite layups inside an airtight bag and pump out all the air. This applies atmospheric pressure evenly to the composite part as it cures, making sure the layers stick together. While a large variety of bagging materials exist, we primarily use release ply, breather, and bagging film in our layups.
Release ply (or “peel ply”) is the first layer we apply on top of the carbon fiber. This slick woven fabric prevents the epoxy in the carbon fiber from sticking to the other layup fabrics while allowing air to pass through. Furthermore, release ply leaves behind a textured surface on the finished part, making it easier for us to bond additional parts afterwards.
Next, breather is a thick and “fluffy” layer which allows air to move laterally through the piece. This stops the formation of air pockets in the vacuum bag and cushions the bagging film from sharp protrusions in the part. Breather can also help to soak up excess resin in a layup, though this is less of a concern for our prepregnated carbon fiber layups.
Finally, bagging film is an airtight sheet that holds the vacuum seal. This film has to be pleated so that no “bridging” occurs over concavities in the part. Airtech sponsored us with bagging film that allows up to 550% elongation, which makes it much easier for the film to reach and apply pressure to all parts of the layup.
Airtech’s generous support is crucial for Tachyon’s success, and we hope to create our best composites work yet with their help! Airtech’s logo graces our website, and will be displayed on Tachyon as she races in American Solar Challenge 2018, World Solar Challenge 2019, and beyond. We encourage you to visit their website at www.airtechonline.com for more information on their wide product selection.