Thermally-enhanced polymer composites are a promising alternative to exotic metals in seawater heat exchanger applications due to the low cost and corrosion resistance of base polymers and heat transfer rates competitive with corrosion-resistant metals such as titanium or stainless steel. While the properties of thermally-enhanced polymer composites are well-suited for heat exchanger applications, fiber orientation has a strong influence on the structural and thermal performance of the manufactured components. In this study, a method of creating samples, sectioning and polishing them for imaging, microscope sampling for the identification of fibers, image processing to characterize fiber orientation, and finally comparison to predictions from computer-aided engineering (CAE) software is demonstrated for collecting experimental information on fiber orientation of molded parts. Understanding fiber orientation in injection-molded polymer heat exchangers is important for ensuring ideal heat transfer and structural performance and this study presents an experimental methodology for determining the influence of injection molding process parameters on fiber orientation in thermally-enhanced polymer composite geometries.

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