Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institut fur Chemische Technologie in Pfinztal, Germany, have been exploring new techniques for making biocomposites of biobased polymers and natural fibers like hemp or flax. Fraunhofer ICT has prepared injection molding compounds of chopped natural fibers in PLA. More ambitious was its adaptation of the D-LFT (direct long-fiber thermoplastic) process for in-line compounding and molding, previously used for glass fibers in standard resins like PP. The system uses two co-rotating twin-screw extruders: One melts the PLA or other bioresin and feeds it to the second extruder, which pulls continuous tows of natural fibers into the melt. A special screw also chops the fibers to 10-mm lengths. The mix is extruded in sheet or other form and delivered hot to a compression press. Fraunhofer ICT and 24 partners participate in an EU-funded R&D project called Biocomp. +49 721-4640-460 • www.ict.fraunhofer.de, www.biocomp.eu.com
Fraunhofer Inst. for Chem. Tec
Joseph-von-Fraunhoferstrasse 7 Pfinztal D-76327, Germany
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