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Autoclaves have long been used to ensure robustness in the production of composite parts. However, they present a production bottleneck, as well as high capital and recurring costs. Out-of-autoclave prepregs were introduced to allow oven curing and thereby address some of these issues. These OoA prepregs rely on so-called “edge breathing” to remove gas and volatiles during cure, and thus achieve low porosity levels. Unfortunately, this strategy presents problems in practice, yielding inconsistent results. For the past decade, USC’s Composites Center has attempted to restore some of the robustness intrinsic to autoclave cure by redesigning formats for OoA prepregs. These efforts will be described, along with the basic concepts underpinning the approaches employed, as well as some of the challenges faced in attempting to transition the discoveries into practice.
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