In this work a holistic approach for the characterization and mathematical modeling of the reaction kinetics of a fast epoxy resin is shown. Major composite manufacturing processes like resin transfer molding involve isothermal curing at temperatures far below the ultimate glass transition temperature. Hence, premature vitrification occurs during curing and consequently has to be taken into account by the kinetic model. In order to show the benefit of using a complex kinetic model, the Kamal-Malkin kinetic model is compared to the Grindling kinetic model in terms of prediction quality for isothermal processing. From the selected models, only the Grindling kinetic is capable of taking into account vitrification. Non-isothermal, isothermal and combined differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) measurements are conducted and processed for subsequent use for model parametrization. In order to demonstrate which DSC measurements are vital for proper cure modeling, both models are fitted to varying sets of measurements. Special attention is given to the evaluation of isothermal DSC measurements which are subject to deviations arising from unrecorded cross-linking prior to the beginning of the measurement as well as from physical aging effects. It is found that isothermal measurements are vital for accurate modeling of isothermal cure and cannot be neglected. Accurate cure predictions are achieved using the Grindling kinetic model.
Keywords: differential scanning calorimetry; epoxy resin; fast curing resin; reaction kinetics modeling; resin transfer molding.