Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thermoplastic Composites vs Thermoset Composites

Many unfamiliar with composite materials see all Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) the same... However, this is not the case.

The common difference in composite materials is most often the structural fiber, be it carbon fiber, Kevlar, fiberglass (E-glass or S-Glass). A composite, by definition, is the combination of two or more materials. In FRP composites, the structural fiber is held together by a resin matrix, much the same how structural rebar is held in place by concrete.

In the advanced development of composite materials, the focus on the next generation has shifted from the structural fiber to the resin matrix. In the on going analysis, thermoplastic composites are beginning to show real potential. Main advantages include, recycle-ability, re-mold capabilities, no or low VOCs, long shelf life, and high impact resistance. For more information, here is a link to a good article by on the differences between thermoplastic composites and thermoset composites.

Increased impact resistance many thermoplastics display is a major attraction. Below is a video displaying a test on thermoplastic composites, and simulating an impact on a car door.

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