Co-cured manufacturing of multi-cell composite box beam using vacuum assisted resin transfer molding

Mert Akin, Cagri Oztan, Rahmi Akin, Victoria Coverstone, Xiangyang Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Co-curing holds great promise to minimize assembly weight, time, and cost for stiffened aerospace structures, which are conventionally fabricated separately and then integrated either through mechanical fastening or adhesive bonding—also known as secondary bonding. This study presented a low-cost co-curing process using VARTM to fabricate stiffened shells, particularly composite box beams. The experimental investigation was performed and the co-curing process was improved by scrutinizing the critical process parameters, such as foam strength and coating, and curing cycle. This work was also intended to present the demonstration of the proposed co-curing method and its comparison with the conventional secondary bonding technique for three-cell carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) composite box beams. Fiber volume fraction measurements were carried out to the specimens extracted from the various section of the co-cured part, namely top skin, web, and bottom skin and as a result, around 60% of fiber volume fraction was measured, which was in good agreement with the results obtained from optical microscopy-based image analysis. Structural-level four-point bending test results showed that the weight normalized maximum and the ultimate load of the part increased by 44% and 45% with the use of the co-curing process, respectively. The improved mechanical properties indicated that stronger structural integration can be achieved by integrally curing structures. SEM micrographs revealed a favorable fiber-matrix interface, bolstering the superior integration of the co-cured part. These findings suggest that the low-cost co-curing process can be a potential candidate for the fabrication of stiffened aerospace structures, such as composite box beams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4469-4480
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Composite Materials
Issue number30
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Co-curing
  • composite box beam
  • integrally co-cured structures
  • secondary bonding
  • stiffened composite structures
  • vacuum assisted resin transfer molding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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