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composites and LFTs | Reinforcements

generation of fi bre reinforced thermoplastics will need to be lighter, stronger, and stiffer in order to allow thinner parts to be moulded. “Particularly in hand-held consumer electronics, thickness can be measured in millimetres,” says Drew Walker, president of glass fi bre producer AGY. Last year, the company announced it had increased production of its S-2 Glass fi bre reinforce- ments by 20%, with the capability to further increase volumes if needed. S-2 Glass fi bres are used particu- larly when high part stiffness and higher temperature performance is needed, says Walker. A critical factor in development of any thermoplastic

composite is fi bre sizing – the treatment applied to the surface of the fi bre during manufacturing to improve fi bre processing and provide optimal interfacial adhesion between it and the matrix resin. Sizing chemistry and selection plays a signifi cant role in improving properties, says Yves De Smet, global fi bres and composites business unit manager at Ohio, US-based Michelman. Its latest generation of FGlass fi bre sizings are targeted for PP reinforcement, for example. Glass fi bre still dominates the fi bre reinforced thermoplastics market, but other types of fi bre are fi nd- ing increased use. For example, while carbon fi bre was in the recent past used mostly in epoxy thermosets and high-temperature thermoplastics such as PEEK, it is now being used increasingly in PA and even PP, says Andy Brink, Michelman’s global technology manager.

Targeting thermoplastics

Owens Corning is targeting automotive applications with its latest short glass fi bres for PP

PPG introduced three new ChopVantage chopped strand fi bre products this year that target specifi c key thermo- plastic applications. ChopVantage HP3270 is a 10 micron chopped strand fi bre for PP that offers improved dry-as-moulded (DAM) properties and performance in hot detergent solutions. Target applications include automotive and appliances, such as washing machines and dryers where a clean white colour is critical. ChopVantage HP3613 is a 13 micron fi bre with proprietary sizing chemistry for PA applica- tions. It offers high hydrolysis resistance in long-life coolant systems and meets US Food and Drug Administration and EU food compliance requirements, as well as potable water guidelines. ChopVan- tage HP3730 chopped strand fi bre glass provides good DAM properties and hydrolysis resistance in

thermoplastic polyester compounds. It can also be used to improve mechanical performance of biodegradable plastics such as

polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and 28 INJECTION WORLD | January/February 2013

polytrimethyleneterephthalates (PTT). Applications include transportation, electric and electronic (E&E), and computer housings and components. Johns Manville has also been growing its portfolio of chopped strand glass fi bres. ThermoFlow 672 is designed for reinforced PA compounds used in critical components in the automotive, E&E and consumer goods markets. It is claimed to deliver higher impact and tensile strength properties, while retaining the high throughputs of existing ThermoFlow products for PP reinforcement. The company is also expanding glass fi bre produc- tion at its plant at Trnava in Slovakia to meet expected increased demand for lightweight automotive struc- tures. Increased furnace capacity from the beginning of this year will enable it to increase production capacity for some of its chopped strand and roving products by up to 40%, including its ThermoFlow chopped strands for thermoplastics and StarRov rovings for long-fi bre compounds.

Focusing on food contact A recent focus for fi bre and compound producers has been replacing products with new materials designed to be compliant with the latest current and upcoming regulations, such as the EU’s REACH regulation and the new Plastics Implementing Measure (PIM) covering articles intended to come into contact with food. PIM replaced the Plastics Directive in 2011, although the full effects of the regulation are still being developed and implemented. It incorporates Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) requirements and lists authorised substances. Glass fi bres have been listed in PIM as an authorised

additive without limitation. Sizings are not specifi cally mentioned in PIM, but, because many sizings are polymeric, it appears to be the intent of the EU Commission that sizing monomeric components be

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