Creating a Pleat When Vacuum Bagging
Vacuum Bag pleating is a common practice used when laying up a part that has a deep mold or complex contours. Pleats allow the vacuum bagging film to form evenly around the part, creating consistent vacuum pressure.
When laying down bagging film on your laminate it is important to take into consideration the size of the bag film and the shape of you part. If your part has a deep mold or complex shape understanding how the bag will behave when vacuum is pulled will help to achieve bagging success.
If you bag is too small or tight it will cause bridging at corners and elevations. If bridging occurs there will be no pressure applied to that area and could cause a tear in the bag.
Bridging is when the bag does not fold down completely on an edge leaving a rounded void.
With the use of tucks and pleats you can use a larger bag and reduce bridging. Learn how to create a pleat below.
What is a Pleat?
A pleat is a fold made by doubling the vacuum bag upon itself and pressing it together with sealant tape to form a tight seal.
One faces certain challenges when creating pleats: wrinkles, leak sites, and a time consuming learning curve.Creating pleats prior to attaching your vacuum bagging film is an easy way to prevent leaks, wrinkles and make the lay-up of the vacuuming bagging film a simpler step.
Before pleating the vacuum bagging film, attach the sealant tape to the flange. Any excess resin needs to be have been cleaned with acetone prior to the placement of the sealant tape. Apply the sealant tape around the entire flange; making sure to press down firmly to create a good bond. Leave the protective paper on the sealant tape.
A flange is a flat area of a mold that extends perpendicularly from the edge of the molding surface
After attaching the sealant tape, decide the size and location of the pleat(s). Pleats should be placed where the vacuuming bagging film would normally bunch up, on the down side of a contoured edge. The size of the pleat is determined by the height of the mold. Usually it is best to have your pleat be at least half the height of the mold.
Now it is time to cut the vacuum bagging film to fit the mold. Make sure that there is enough material to allow for the pleats, to avoid stretching of the bagging film and to prevent bridging areas when the vacuum is applied. When cutting the bagging film to size, make sure the film is at least 30% larger than the sealant tape perimeter or greater if it is a deep mold.
Creating the Pleat
After the sealant tape has been adhered to the flange, the vacuuming bagging material has been cut and the size and location of the pleat has been decided, it is time to create the pleat.