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GFRP: Unusual Fiber Forms - Tricky Choice between Performance, Isotropy, Processing Methods & Cost

SpecialChem / Michel Biron – Apr 2, 2013

Cost efficiency, shorter cycle times and greater recycling possibilities are opening up new opportunities for innovative composite solutions satisfying an increasing market demand for lightweight structural parts in transportation, construction and industrial applications, contributing to cut CO2 emissions. Thermoplastic composites are well positioned against metal thanks to their low density, design freedom and ease of function integration allowing the reduction of part number and related costs. End properties result from a subtle balance between reinforcement (form, level, direction) and polymer matrix leading to a wide range of performances. Used thermoplastic resins can include ABS, HDPE, PA (6,66,46,12), PAA/PPA, PBT/PET, PC, PC/ABS, PEEK, PEI, POM, PP, PPO, PPS, TPE/TPO/TPV/TPU.

Glass fibers can include E-glass, S-glass, ECR-glass, mats, fabrics; long, very long, continuous fibers; unidirectional, multidirectional or random arrangements etc. Between traditional short glass fiber reinforced thermoplastics easily processed and high performing thermoset composites, new forms of thermoplastic composites are developing benefiting from the inherent advantages of thermoplastic features. The continuous and simultaneous increase of strength and modulus allows to obtain any data between 50 and 1000 MPa for the tensile strength and between some GPa up to 40GPa and more for the modulus. Of course anisotropy increases with the length and the ordering of fibers. Among the endless range of such thermoplastic composites are examined:

  • Very long glass fibers
  • Improvement of GMTs by combination of mat and woven reinforcements
  • Thermoplastic prepregs maintaining advantages of prepregs without drawbacks of thermosets
  • An efficient paradox: Cut continuous fibers - Tepex Flowcore versus Tepex Dynalite
  • High glass fiber level unidirectional tapes
  • Multiaxial reinforcements and NCF (non-crimp fabrics)

Of course, several forms of thermoplastic composites can be combined to obtain more complex parts satisfying a multitude of requirements related to mechanical, thermal, chemical and aesthetic functions. Mechanical performances increase with the fiber length and orientation but simultaneously new processing methods must be used.

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