Is heat critical to the manufacturing and repair process of wind blades? The short answer is yes. Epoxy needs heat to cure properly. For example, when a wind blade needs to be repaired most systems use wet epoxy or polyester resin that needs to cure at temperatures above 53º F for at least 24 hours. If you don’t have an effective heating solution your epoxy may not cure properly.
If you use a uniform heat spreading blanket, it will help the epoxy and impregnated fiberglass seal and cure evenly across the surface of the blade. The picture below is a thermal image showing the difference between efficient heat distribution using heating blankets (left) and inefficient heat distribution using the conventional method (right).
For wind blade manufacturing and repair, there are a variety of heating technologies to choose from. Not all methods work very well. It’s critical to choose a solution that can heat to a manageable temperature and spreads the heat evenly across the surface of the blade. The picture on the left shows the ideal method for curing wind blades using heating blankets.
The conventional heating method, shown on the right, is not ideal for the curing process. The picture illustrates that while the conventional method does get hot, the heat is isolated to specific areas. There are hot and cold spots all over the surface of the blade, which can interfere with the integrity of the cure.
I work with many wind blade manufacturers and field repair companies that swear by the efficiency and effectiveness of custom designed heating blankets for curing wind blades. If you’re looking for an effective heating solution for your wind blade operation, I recommend a solution that emits even, consistent heat.