Dry In-line Thermoplastic Matrix Impregnation

Period of Performance: 07/20/1995 - 07/20/1997

$576K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

North Coast Innovation, Inc.
8001 SWEET VALLEY DRIVE
Cleveland, OH 44125
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Thermoplastic matrix composites can potentially be used in a wide range of military applications where high stiffness and light weight are required. Applications of thermoplastic composite technology have been limited by the lack of manufacturing equipment for thermoplastic matrix impregnation. During Phase I of this program, an in-line melt impregnation concept which can be used with existing thermoset composite production equipment was demonstrated at the benchtop level. In the Phase II program, the objective is to design, build and evaluate a prototype impregnation system and to demonstrate its application in the manufacture of thermoplastic composite components or structures. The well documented advantages of thermoplastic over thermoset composites for military hardware include damage tolerance, improved repairability and potentially lower manufacturing cost. One application of the proposed concept is as a method for improving the mechanical characteristics of components or structures made mostly from recycled materials by adding continuous fiber reinforcement in strategic locations during the rianufacturing process. The resultant composite material is a potential lightweight/low cost/high strength replacement for hardwood used in a range of Army applications such as truck decking, containers and field structures. The in-line impregnation module will aid the production or military and commercial thermoplastic components on existing composite processing equipment designed for thermosets. It will also enable the use of thermoplastic composites in new areas such as field repair of structures, and the production of composites which include recycled materials.