A comparative life cycle assessment analysis among pressure bag molding and bag molding with autoclave for the manufacturing of car components in carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) was carried out. Four scenarios were analyzed: i) autoclave bag molding with aluminum mold, ii) autoclave bag molding with CFRP mold and plastic master, iii) autoclave bag molding with CFRP mold and medium density fiberboard master, and iv) pressure bag molding with aluminum mold. The collected data for life cycle inventory derives from an Italian manufacturer of CFRP car components, scientific references and Ecoinvent database. Cumulative energy demand, global warming potential, ReCiPe midpoint and endpoint methods were used as impact and damage categories for quantifying the environmental impacts of the different manufacturing processes investigated. The results showed that the pre-impregnated composite fibers with thermoset polymer matrix, used as input material for the four investigated scenarios, represents the main source of total environmental impact, due to the use of polyacrylonitrile as a precursor for carbon fibers. The comparison among the environmental assessments of the different scenarios demonstrated that the most impacting process is the autoclave bag molding with composite mold and polyurethane master, whilst the most sustainable process is the autoclave bag molding with aluminum mold.
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