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JEC Europe 2012 - Achieving lightweight solutions in the automotive industry requires substantial enhancements of many car components. This also applies to natural-fibre-reinforced composites. This is the reason why TITK is investigating the manufacture of lightweight sandwich materials with natural fibre composites. Using different processes for the manufacture of nonwovens (carding and air lay processes), semi-finished products were manufactured and optimized.
Compared with conventional glass-fibre-reinforced headliners, the mechanical properties of the natural-fibre composites are slightly lower. This especially affects the properties under wet conditions. In terms of composite density, competitive values in the range of 0.2-0.4 g/m³ were achieved. One major advantage of natural-fibre composites is that their texture and manufacturing are simplified in a one-step process. Their acoustic properties very much depend on how compact the materials are. The best sound absorption was achieved with composite densities between 0.3 and 0.4 g/m².
The composite materials made at the lab scale were processed under industrial conditions and compressed to samples. This step made it possible to check the feasibility of the technology. Potential applications include automotive indoor parts (headliners and door panels).
Picture: Headliner section with natural-fibre reinforcement