In a liquid composite molding (LCM) process such as resin transfer molding (RTM), quality control depends on an in-situ permeability profile of the fibrous preform taken just before resin injection. However, the conventional permeability measurement method, which uses liquid (oil or resin) as its working fluid, only measures the average preform permeability in an off-line mode. It cannot be used to create an in-situ permeability profile because of fiber pollution, and cannot be used to reveal local permeability variations of preform. This study develops a new permeability characterization method that uses gas flow and pressure profiles to measure preform permeability variation in a closed mold assembly. This method is based upon two research findings: (1) that the air permeability of a preform can be obtained through measuring the pressure profile of gas flow, and (2) that resin permeability is highly correlated with air permeability for the same fiber preform. In this paper, the validity of this method is discussed. Experimental results of gas permeability measurement with defective and defect-free preforms are presented, and quantitative models for correlation of gas permeability versus pressure profile and of gas permeability versus resin permeability are also provided. Finally, the efficacy of the proposed method is illustrated through experimental results.

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