New Process for Fiber-Reinforced Sheet

Thermoplastics sheets reinforced with discontinuous fibers are suitable for thermoforming or compression molding.

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The Composite and Nanocomposite Advanced Manufacturing (CNAM) Center at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City has developed a new manufacturing process for discontinuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic sheet (CNAM-DiFTs). Provisional patents related to process and properties were filed on Aug. 11. This process produces sheets containing discontinuous fibers with significant retention of fiber length and fiber alignment. The process is compatible with a variety of fiber types, including virgin or reclaimed.

The Center supplied reinforced sheets to Steelcase in Caledonia, Mich., and PolyOne, Avon Lake, Ohio, for compression molding and thermoforming trials. The preliminary trials confirm that PP/carbon-fiber DiFTs material can be thermoformed and compression molded. Automotive is a potential market.

The CNAM Center was launched in September 2013 and is funded through a five-year award from South Dakota Governor’s Office and a consortium of corporations.

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