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Reinforced Plastics

MFG 355

Metals are isometric materials
Composites can cut weight by not being
isometric and still maintain the strength in
the desired directions
Composites are, by definition, solid
materials composed of more than one
substance in more than one phase



Thermoplastic processes Very short fibers

Matched die/compression molding
Hand lay-up for wet and prepreg materials
Filament winding and fiber placement

Advanced Composites
Long (continuous) fibers
Very high performance reinforcements
Carbon and aramid

Resins are also very high performance

Typically aerospace applications

Engineering Composites
Shorter fibers/fiberglass
Lower mechanical properties (stiffness)
Lower performance resins

Matrix Materials
Both thermosets and thermoplastics can be
Short fibers are generally used in
Long fibers are generally used with

Matrix Materials
Short fiber composites
Less than 0.2 inches (whiskers)
Processed through standard thermoplastic
Must pass through gates, runners, and gap
between processing screw and barrel walls

Thermoplastics generally benefit greatly from

even the short reinforcement materials

Matrix Materials FRP

Intermediate length fiber reinforcement
The longer the fibers, the more difficult it is to
coat the fibers enough to reap strength
Low viscosity thermosets wet-out the
materials better than high viscosity
Generally use unsaturated polyester and
vinylester resins for FRP

Matrix Materials Advanced

Very long fibers or continuous fibers
Typically used with thermosets, also for wetout reasons
Used generally in advanced composite parts
and have greater material property
Generally use epoxy resins

Three main types of fibers
Carbon fiber or Graphite
Organic fibers, aramids (kevlar)

Spin molten glass
Different types of glass can be made
E-glass (improved electrical resistance)
S-glass (high strength)
C-glass (high chemical resistance)

Carbon or Graphite Fiber

Originally some distinction was made
now the two refer to the same material
Made from PAN fibers, pitch or rayon
Through heating, raw material looses most
non-carbon atoms in the chain
Processing also aligns carbon chains
Carbon fibers have very high modulus

Organic Reinforcement Fibers

Aramid fibers have greatest strength and
modulus properties of organic fibers
Kevlar is the most commonly used aramid
Aramids are strong and stiff but their
greatest value is in impact applications
Front of airplane wings
Armor applications

Reinforcement Forms
Fiber manufacturers package the fibers on
spools called tows
Fibers are generally converted to other
forms after manufacturing
Chopped fibers (including whiskers)
Mat (random)
Woven fibers

Manufacturing Methods
Thermoplastic processes using short
Injection molding
Minor changes are made to accommodate the
fiber reinforcements
All gaps in flow path should be increased
A resin viscosity decrease may be necessary

Manufacturing Methods
Matched die or Compression molding
Reduced flow path over injection or extrusion
SMC compression molding allows for
continuous fibers, mats or weaves
These processes offer parts that are finished
on both sides where most other composite
processes do not

Manufacturing Methods
Resin transfer molding
Fiber preform is placed in the mold cavity
Preform doesnt moveresin is pulled/pushed

Manufacturing Methods
Fibers are chopped, coated with resin and
sprayed onto the mold

Manufacturing Methods
Hand Lay-up (wet and prepreg)


Fiber Orientations
Isometric materials have equal strength in
all directions
Composites can be lighter weight by not
having strength in the directions that it is
not needed
Lay-up still has to have some balance and

Vacuum Bagging
Provides for increased part consolidation
Reduces matched die mold costs

Manufacturing Methods
Filament winding and fiber placement
Fiber placement has greater accuracy
Fiber placement can wind on less symmetrical
and even partially concave mandrels

Tubes, tanks, wind turbine blades and


Manufacturing Methods
Roll wrapping
Faster than filament winding
Limited to symmetrical mandrels

Manufacturing Methods
High volume production
Comparable to extrusion but the main
processing force is tension
Profile is pulled from the machine

Plant Concepts
Many of the processes require
considerable space
Curing equipment for large parts can be
very large (and expensive)
Controlling volatiles (solvents and resins)
must be taken care of
Molds can be both expensive and fragile

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