Understanding Vacuum

 In the year 2000 when I started to study the possibilities for a DIY boat building project, I was a total composite greenhorn (still too much honor, I knew nothing) and there was almost no information about vacuum infusion except that it was some kind of black magic, operated behind closed doors by some very professional boat building plants.

However, vacuum resin infusion seemed to me the ultimate way of laminating a boat hull and in fact it made my single handed boatbuilding project possible without having any previous composite experience. Vacuum infusion is a defined process that not depends of my initially lack on knowledge and experience and skills for laminating big boat hulls. Now that has been said, think about the following. Vacuum bagging is much more tolerant and can operate even with a not leak proof vacuum bag and at lower vacuum rates, so must be much easier to do. However, being not a defined process, requires experience and skills in the eyes of the novice composite worker because it has to start with a hand-lay-up laminate with all the accompanying tits and bits.  Here is a link to the pro’s and con’s.

For the experienced composite worker it is a piece of cake and is the text above just BS. For the beginner in composites with a high tech composite yacht in mind, the choice for vacuum infusion is a logical one. Just acquire the knowledge and go for it ……

In the composite practice it is necessary to know a little more about the vacuum pump, the use of measuring units and to handle some pitfalls in the field of vacuum. At the start of my composite adventure I had wished there was some more composite related vacuum information available and in such a way I could understand. With vacuum resin infusion the devil is in the details and it is these details that make the difference.

Understanding Vacuum

So, also as a refresher for my own knowledge of the matter, I made a dedicated webpage about vacuum as being seen through my composite glasses (and including two ads as the tower must be kept smoking 😉

The following questions will be answered:

  • What is a vacuum ?
  • Which metric or imperial units are in use ?
  • What is the difference between gauge vacuum and absolute pressure ?
  • How about the vacuum pump, which type or size to use ?
  • Large central vacuum systems or multiple small pumps in the professional plant ?
  • Is a vacuum switch useful ?
  • How out-gassing can spoil the fun ?
  • Why test for leaks ? (includes an ad for the Resin Infusion Starters Kit)
  • Going Hi-Tech with absolute pressure ?
  • Which vacuum pump is best for the vacuum needs in composites ? (includes an ad for vacmobiles vacuum systems)

This is the link to the webpage.  Have fun in studying the information and I hope you liked it. As always I’m happy with your comments, critics and your own experiences.

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