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Composites

What are Composites?

Composites utilise the desired properties of single materials und combine these materials. The mechanical properties may for example be increased by inserting reinforcement fibers into the polymer. Therewith, composites offer a great potential for weight reduction most notably in the field of structural parts.

What do we do?

- Process development for production of thermoplastic composites with continuous fibre reinforcement
- Material selection
- Process automatisation

Possible kinds of reinforcement: short fibres, long fibres, mat, woven fabric, UD layers (FLTR)

Compuatational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulation of the filling and polymerization of the production of fiber reinforced polymer composites is an intrinsic part of predicting and optimizing issues. It gives insight into process phenomena, which are not easily accessible by experiments and especially it gives valuable opportunities for novel process design. For example, thermoplastic composites offer advantages (e.g. easier recycling) over their thermoset counterparts, however, also introduce challenges into to the production procedure (different mixing performance, turbulence etc.). For that reason it is of paramount importance to investigate and understand the key phenomena.

In the ongoing investigation the anionic polymerization of glass fiber reinforced polyamide 6 composite is investigated. The material has a low viscosity compared to conventional resin fluids before polymerization. The impact of the change of this and similar material properties can be analyzed and optimized by Computational Fluid Dynamics. Different models for polymerization, crystallization as well as viscosity is implemented into the open source CFD tool OpenFOAM as well as validated in order to create a software suite, which can help understand and optimze the entire process, thus accelerating not only the optimization process before the actual establishment of the process in the industry, but also the descision making concerning e.g. geometric changes or other process parameters on site in the factory during production.

References:
[1] J. Nagy, L. Reith, M. Fischlschweiger and G. Steinbichler: Modeling the influence of flow phenomena on the polymerization of ϵ-Caprolactam, Chem. Eng. Sci. 111, 85-93, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ces.2014.02.020