Forming of composites: thermal analysis of processes

Fully understanding heat transfer in forming processes for polymers and composite materials is a major industrial factor.

Our work ranges from characterizing your composite materials to optimizing thermal parameters for your manufacturing processes. Throughout the course of our aerospace projects, we have acquired unique know-how for understanding and optimizing the heat transfers involved in welding composite materials.

Our engineering and R&D services

Our PhD engineers conduct cutting-edge research in heat transfers and put their scientific expertise to use for your R&D projects. They use innovative techniques to meet your industrial needs: process optimization, maximizing product quality, superior assembly performance.

Conductivity – Effusivity – Thermal Diffusivity

Characterizing thermal conduction properties in conditions representative of processes.

  • Measuring the thermal conductivity tensor of an anisotropic composite on reinforcement alone or on cured / uncured composites
  • Measurements on partially crosslinked materials
  • Measuring thermal resistance on thin film

Volumetric shrinkage – Thermal dilation

Understanding the coupling between thermal and chemical effects through the precise characterization of volumetric variations of polymers and composites.

  • Alpha-PVT: chemical shrinkage of a thermosetting matrix
  • 3D PVT: anisotropic chemical shrinkage of composites
  • Thermoplastic PVT: PVT Diagrams – crystallization shrinkage – Tait model – crystallization under pressure
  • Thermal expansion coefficients on uncured, rubbery or glass resin
  • Bulk modulus evolution of resin while curing


Determining resin viscosity in the melted state and understanding temporary or permanent deformations of your composite materials.

  • Viscosity of reactive systems
  • Identifying the relaxation time of polymer chains
  • Measurements of complex and non-Newtonian fluids

Infra-red heating – Radiative properties

Mastering infra-red heating processes for polymers and composites in order to reach target temperatures in tools and parts.

  • Characterizing absorption, reflection, and transmission properties
  • Dependence on temperature and the angle of incidence

Welded composites assembly

Defining a process window for welding thermoplastic composites

  • Measuring creep time for high-performance matrices
  • Welding tests on composite specimens
  • Associated mechanical tests (G1c, SLS)

Kinetic models

Identifying parameters for thermo-kinetic models to predict phase changes

  • Crosslinking a thermosetting resin
  • Crystallization of a semi-crystalline polymer
  • Vulcanization of elastomers
  • Kinetic reactions of glues
  • Glass transition temperature evolution with the degree of cure (Di Benedetto)

Simulation and thermal modeling

Predicting heat transfers for sizing, understanding, or optimizing polymer and composite forming processes

  • Sizing of forming tools
  • Thermo-kinetic models to predict a part’s degrees of cure
  • Optimizing heating and cooling cycle time
  • Multiphysics simulations: coupling with the kinetics of polymerization, mechanics, electricity, etc.

Metrology solutions

Developing personalized metrology solutions for measuring your composite materials’ thermal behavior and associated processes

  • Instrumentation of on-site composite parts and industrial machines, thermal mapping
  • Developing specialized innovative sensors and measurement protocols
  • Designing and making original test benches

Support from research laboratories

Our teams receive support from the laboratories at the University of Nantes and benefit from their technical equipment in order to successfully complete your innovative projects.

Heat transfer of polymers and composites

Vincent Sobotka

Professor at the University of Nantes, member of the LTeN team for “Thermal Transfers in Materials and at Interfaces,” Scientific manager at Capacités.

His research activities focus on the thermal science of polymer and composite forming and concern three complementary areas:

  • Thermal characterization of polymers and composites during the transformation process and developing novel apparatuses.
  • Modeling coupled transfers in the forming process (thermoplastic injection, RTM, FFF…).
  • Forming process testing and thermal optimization.

En savoir plus

Heat Transfer and Energy Laboratory at Nantes (LTeN)

LTeN is a heat transfer research unit that is recognized nationally and internationally, as well as in the industrial sector. The laboratory has two research areas: transfers in fluids and energy systems and thermal transfers in materials and at interfaces.

The Thermal Transfers in Materials and at Interfaces Team

The main objective of the team’s research is to understand and control heat transfers occurring inside materials and during their development or forming processes.

Scientific publications

Our fleet of testing and measurement machines

More than 220 pieces of industry-specific equipment

Our team has a rich and varied fleet of machines at its disposal. We make sure to utilize the most suitable technical means for each project. To do so, we design specialized test benches that are tailored to polymers, resins or composites representative of each process.

Our projects

Contributing to the development of…

A leading aeronautical equipment manufacturer turned to the experts at Capacités to assist in completing the final stages in the development of their novel composite material.


Determining the properties of a…

As part of its R&D activities, Liebherr Aerospace sought to measure, up to 400°C, the thermal conductivity of a thermal barrier coating, deposited in a thin layer on an aluminium substrate.


Modelling the heat transfer of…

A key player in the aeronautics sector called on Capacités’s specialists to determine the thermal conductivity properties of a  composite material reinforced with short fibers during the injection process.


Need an innovative and resourceful partner?

Capacités teams inspire, harness and couple numerous cutting-edge skills covering a wide range of applications and expertise to meet all of your innovation needs with passion and commitment!

+33 (0)2 72 64 88 94

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