Fiber Orientation in Plastics

Fibres can supply extraordinary strength to plastic materials – depending on how they mix, match, and align. LINX is mapping fibre orientation, linking it to processing.

One of the easiest ways to make plastic components commercially is by injection moulding – i.e. forcing molten plastic into a mould, which defines the desired (component) shape upon cooling. In recent years, a very popular variety has been injection moulding of fibre-reinforced plastic. Plastic with fibres embedded inside can be extraordinary tough and strong, and they increasingly replace metal components, e.g. in the car industry. However, the superior properties only manifest themselves if the fibres are arranged in the “right” way for the application. Poor fibre orientation can, for instance, cause 80 % loss of material strength compared to a theoretical maximum.

The correlation between an injection moulding process and the fibre orientations which it induces is complicated. As such, developing a given process (for some product or component) towards ideal fibre arrangements is both time-consuming and costly. The difficulty owes greatly to the lack of analytical tools which can accurately “map” fibres in 3D and thus help build libraries of “cause and effect” within the field.

In this project, LINX makes a concerted push with DTU and several of its member companies towards improved 3D fibre-visualization methods based on X-ray imaging. The goal is a unique, ready-to-use tool which companies can pick up and implement easily in their process and product development divisions.

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Project Information

Participants: Xnovo Technology, Technical University of Denmark.
Start date, end date:
 April 2016 – February 2017.
Fiber Orientations in Industrial Materials (FP07.002, Fiber structure and dynamics).