Applications of fixed and variable frequency microwave (VFM) facilities in polymeric materials processing and joining

Ku, H. S. and Siu, F. and Siores, E. and Ball, J. A. R. (2002) Applications of fixed and variable frequency microwave (VFM) facilities in polymeric materials processing and joining. In: 2nd World Engineering Congress (WEC 2002), 22-25 Jul 2002, Kuching, Malaysia.

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Microwave processing of materials is a relatively new technology advancement alternative that provides new approaches for enhancing material properties as well as economic advantages through energy savings and accelerated product development. Factors that hinder the use of microwaves in materials processing are declining, so that prospect for the development of this technology seem to be very promising (Sutton, W.H., 1989). The two mechanisms of orientation polarisation and interfacial space charge polarisation, together with dc. conductivity, form the basis of high frequency heating. Clearly, advantages in utilising microwave technologies for processing materials include penetrating radiation, controlled electric field distribution and selective and volumetric heating. However, the most commonly used facilities for microwave processing materials are of fixed frequency, eg 2.45 GHz. This paper presents a state-of-the-art review of microwave technologies, processing methods and industrial applications, using variable frequency microwave (VFM) facilities. This is a new alternative for microwave processing. The technique is geared towards advanced materials processing and chemical synthesis. It offers rapid, uniform and selective heating over a large volume at a high energy coupling efficiency. This is accomplished using a preselected bandwidth sweeping around a central frequency employing frequency agile sources such as travelling wave tubes as the microwave power amplifier. Selective heating of complex samples and industrial scale-up are now viable. During VFM processing, a given frequency of microwaves would only be launched for less than one millisecond. Two facilities were employed during the study. The VW1500 (Figure 1) with a maximum power output of 125 W generates microwave energy in the frequency range of 6–18 GHz and the other, Microcure 2100 Model 250 (Figure 2) operates at 6–18 GHz with a maximum power level of 250 W. The cavity dimension of VW1500 (Figure 1) was 250 mm x 250 mm x 300 mm and the Microcure 2100 model 250 has a cavity size of 300 mm x 275 mm x 375 mm. Successful applications of the VFM technology are in the areas of curing advanced polymeric encapsulants, thermoplastic matrix composite materials characterisation, adhesive characterisation, rapid processing of flip-chip (FC) underfills, joining reinforced thermoplastic matrix composites materials, and structural bonding of glass to plastic housing. However, there are a lot of factors that have to be considered before employing variable frequency microwave (VFM) irradiation for processing materials. Not all materials are suitable for microwave processing and one has to match the special characteristics of the process. Blind applications of microwave energy in material processing will usually lead to disappointment. On the other hand, wise application of the technology will have greater benefits than have been anticipated. Successful applications of these modern facilities by the authors include the characterisation of glass or carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic matrix composites, eg 33% by weight glass fibre reinforced low density polyethylene [LDPE/GF (33%)], of primers eg two-part five-minute rapid araldite (LRA), and joining of the above mentioned composite materials with, or, without primers. Such applications are detailed in this paper.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: No evidence of copyright restrictions.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 01:06
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2013 06:45
Uncontrolled Keywords: variable frequency microwave; VFM facilities; characterisation; fibre reinforced thermoplastic matrix composite materials; bulk heating; penetrating radiation
Fields of Research : 09 Engineering > 0912 Materials Engineering > 091299 Materials Engineering not elsewhere classified
09 Engineering > 0910 Manufacturing Engineering > 091099 Manufacturing Engineering not elsewhere classified
09 Engineering > 0912 Materials Engineering > 091209 Polymers and Plastics
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970109 Expanding Knowledge in Engineering

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