By Mike Verespej, Plastics News Staff
Detroit, Michigan -- In conjunction with several universities and testing labs, the plastics industry has developed process modelling for long glass fibre injection moulded composite plastic parts.
The technology may open the door to greater use of such materials in semi-structural automotive applications and other areas where strength and stiffness are critical.
"This will allow you to use plastics in places that companies have never thought of using plastics before," said Marianne Morgan, automotive industry manager for engineering plastics for BASF Corp. Such long fibre applications are growing, but still limited today because of the necessity to develop tooling to produce prototypes of parts to assess the potential part's mechanical properties.
The new process modelling, and the research data backing it up, will enable companies to bypass "the make it and break it" trial-and-error testing on plastic parts that would have delayed or inhibited the adoption of long glass fibre filled plastics for years, said Mike Wyzgoski, a consultant to the American Chemistry Council's automotive team.
"I think all of the properties - the stiffness, the strength, the impact resistance and the toughness of the parts - will improve" with the use of long fibres, "because of the way the fibres are oriented," Wyzgoski said in advance of his 24 April presentation on predictive engineering at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit.
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