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Short Carbon Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastics: A Giant Stride Toward High Performing Plastics

SpecialChem / Michel Biron – Sep 3, 2012

Industry is more and more demanding for high performance plastics at low end costs. Carbon fiber is expensive but injection molding of thermoplastics leads to low processing costs. So, injection molding of short carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics can be an answer to high performance plastic parts.

Reinforcement with carbon fiber generally enhances tensile strength and modulus at room temperature and high temperature (according to the matrix polymer), improves heat deflection temperature (HDT), reduces coefficient of linear thermal expansion (CLTE), increases electrical and thermal conductivities, and lowers mold shrinkage. Of course, reinforcement thanks to fibers leads to a risk of anisotropy by fiber orientation and stacking. Carbon fibers can also have slightly detrimental effects on notched impact strength and reduce elongation at break. Of course carbon fibers are intrinsically expensive but when intelligently used, the end cost is beneficial.

Carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics compete with steel and aluminum for structural parts, conductive compounds, wear resistant load bearingsā€¦ Very strong and lightweight, carbon-fiber based materials are of interest in a variety of applications where weight savings, emissions reduction, durability, and energy efficiency are key performance factors. Undoubtedly, the most critical issue with carbon fiber is the high cost with an average price around $35/kg. Mechanical performances are not sufficient to justify that gap and a carbon fiber breakthrough needs lower prices. To get out of this vicious circle it is necessary to find an outlet in a mass production application.

Today, Carbon fiber consumption is based on four feet: Aerospace, Industry, Wind Energy, Sporting goods. Currently, the use in the automotive sector...

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