Lightweight PP glass fiber composite material application

Swissquard Plastics Composites (QPC) has introduced a series of lightweight reinforced thermoplastic composites (LWRT), including sheets and prefabricated blanks under the trade name Symalite. Due to its lower density, LWRT composites produce higher hardness per unit weight than conventional glass fiber mat reinforced thermoplastic (GMT) sheets. At the same time, this material combines with metals, GMT, and conventional PP and nylon long fiber thermoplastics ( Compared with LFT) composites, it has the advantages of reduced weight, more flexible design, and lower cost, making it an ideal replacement for lightweight GMT composites.

According to QPC, using low-pressure molding technology, this new composite material can easily adhere to fabrics, gauze, foams, dry powder coatings, and sturdy PP surfaces, making it easy to mold in-mold. In addition, an adhesive film can be used to bond Symalite materials to aluminum coiled sheets. Currently, QPC is considering the use of such aluminum/plastic laminates in the manufacture of automotive roof moldings. .

Symalite composite materials are suitable for the manufacture of automotive underbody shield protection devices, load-bearing plates, roof linings, door trims, luggage racks, roof moldings, engine covers, and trunk lids.

Novel production process

In general, GMT composite sheet is a composite of PP powder and chopped glass fiber. Different from the manufacturing process of GMT composites, QPC's LWRT lightweight composites use dry process technology used in the production of fabrics to create a blend of PP and glass fiber hairs. In a continuous production process, the blended hairs are heated to a temperature above the melting point of the PP, laminated to a surface layer of an adhesive film or a pure PP film, and finally cut into blanks. Considering the phenomenon that the separation of the resin from the fibers often occurs when using the short-cut glass fiber molded parts, the company chose a glass fiber having a length of 78 mm to generate a separation-preventing 3D matrix. QPC claims that this process allows glass fibers to be well distributed in PP while also controlling the bulking process of the material.

When the sheet is heated, it expands and expands to 5 times its original thickness. This is because the glass fiber is stretched out from the consolidated blank in the compressed state. Therefore, QPC adjusts the bulkiness of the sheet by changing the glass fiber content. In general, when the glass fiber content is high, the bulkiness increases and the density decreases, so that the specific hardness (ratio of hardness to weight) of the final product increases.

In making products from Symalite blanks, QPC used a low pressure "hot stamping" process. The process uses a double-sided aluminum plate mold and it is said that the cost and development cycle of the mold are much less than steel molds. After using this type of mold, the billet only undergoes very little deformation during the molding process, and the final product produced has different strength at different wall thicknesses. The thick part is usually of high hardness, while the thin part has hardness. Not high but very high tensile strength.

In Germany, QPC can produce sheets with a glass fiber content of 20% to 60%. Currently, products with a glass fiber content rating of 40% to 55% have been commercialized. Among them, 40% of the glass fiber content of the sheet is suitable for the manufacture of vehicle shielding devices, load-bearing plates and openable roof; 55% glass fiber content of the sheet is suitable for the manufacture of roof liner. The standard sizes of the above laminates are 22 in, 30 in, 45 in, and 90 in (1 in = 25.4 mm), but they can also be customized as required.

Business Application Success

Seeber AG, located in Mannheim, Germany, used the Symalite composite material to manufacture a vehicle undershield protection device for BMW. This is the first time that the material has been successfully commercialized. This type of underbody shielding guard consists of four Symiteite parts with a glass fiber content of 40%. Because they are laminated from two sides with unreinforced PP film, their impact resistance, wear resistance, and moisture resistance are improved. Compared with the past GMT components, its weight is reduced by 30%, the resistance coefficient has also been reduced, and this product also has a good silencer function.

According to reports, the mold used to make the device is a multi-cavity mold consisting of 4 parts with an auxiliary mechanical device for drilling holes in the product during the molding process. When a 79 inx73 in (1 in = 25.4 mm) billet is fed into the multi-cavity mold, the molding of the 4 parts can be completed within a working period of less than 60 s.

Compared to BMW's original underbody shielded guards, the weight of SeeberAG's component manufactured from Symalite composite materials has not been significantly reduced, but its greatest advantage is that it can take full advantage of the features of the product at different thicknesses, such as The thickness of the central part of the product is 4mm, which optimizes the specific hardness value and at the same time has the function of noise reduction, while the peripheral thickness is only 1mm, thereby improving the bonding force and the sealing strength.

At present, QPC has begun research and development on the application of its composite materials to the exterior panels of automobiles and off-road vehicles. Their research focuses on adhering the pre-sprayed aluminum layer to the core of the SymaLite material to make a car roof molding. Since the coefficient of thermal expansion of the aluminum liner (CLTE) is comparable to the CLTE value of the SymaLite composite, the bending deformation of the part can be reduced. At the same time, aluminum coated coils can also reduce the weight of the product.

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