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From simulation to recycling : current topics and trends in thermoplastic composites

News International-French

14 Sep 2018

Better value for money, faster, lighter, more versatile: Production processes and components face ever-tougher requirements.

ITHEC

Development of thermoplastic composite materials is still quite new as a work direction, but holds great promise. The ITHEC event at the Messe Bremen trade fair grounds aims to reflect this. The event will present the latest developments, starting with simulation and monitoring.

Alongside topics from the fields of aviation and automotive engineering, new technological trends will be in focus. For example, Dr. Hirofumi Nishida of the Kanazawa Institute of Technology in Japan will present at the ITHEC for the first time on the process properties of an in-situ polymerizing thermoplastic epoxy resin he developed in comparison to other materials, such as caprolactam. What makes this resin special is that the polymerization can be halted at any stage, so different flow properties can take effect, for example. This enables different impregnation methods, along with various further processing steps – and thus diverse applications.

“The resin has already been used for shock absorbers in cars and in earthquake protection for buildings, for example,” Nishida explains.

At Evonik Nutrition & Care, researchers indicate that they are the first in several years to work with organomodified siloxanes (OMS) as additives for thermoplastic composites. They are developing customized solutions for customers on this basis. The results of their work will be presented to the industry public for the first time at ITHEC 2018. The researchers say the addition of OMS that affect surfaces offers great potential. For example, they smooth glass fibers so well that the fiber-matrix adhesion – and thus the mechanical properties – are improved, explains Dr.-Ing. Sebastian Hessner.

“Another example is that OMS-modified polyamide improves adhesion between metal and a polymer compared to commercially available fiber-reinforced plastic.”

Another field for innovative technology is recycling, which will move into the spotlight for the first time at this year's ITHEC. One aspect is that recycled carbon fibers can definitely be used to produce materials that are capable of high performance.

“So far, though, acceptance of these kinds of products based on recycled materials has been lacking,” says Marcel Hofmann of Sächsisches Textilforschungsinstitut Chemnitz (STFI), a textile research institute based in the German state of Saxony.

STFI, Faserinstitut Bremen (FIBRE), and four industrial partners aim to change that now, with their RecyCarb project, by ensuring things like reproducibility from recycling through to production.

“Right now there are no standards or specifications at all for things like quality control,” Hofmann says. “We have laid a foundation here that can be viewed as a recommendation.”

The partners are also working on practical production of high performance composites. In fact, Hofmann says, the material properties have been improved massively compared with parameters known from the literature – for example, 67 percent greater bending strength has been achieved. Between now and the conclusion of the project, at the end of this year, the group will be producing real components to use as demo pieces, highlighting possible areas of application and supporting the adoption of this method in real-world products.

Messe Bremen cooperates with Faserinstitut Bremen e.V. at the University of Bremen to hold the event. The conference is held every two years. This year’s program encompasses 57 talks and poster presentations. The event is supported by 50 research institutions and companies from all over the world – more than ever before, and a sign of this topic’s importance. About 300 specialists are expected to attend.