Advanced Technologies for Discrete-Parts Manufacturing

Period of Performance: 12/09/2009 - 06/08/2010


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Materials Innovation Technologies, LLC
320 Rutledge Road
Fletcher, NC 28732
Principal Investigator


Since 2005, MIT-LLC has successfully developed the three dimensional engineered preform (3-DEP) process for making near-net-shape, complex geometry, chopped fiber preforms that are subsequently infused with epoxy or other thermosetting resin. We have been approached frequently to determine if we could develop a high performance thermoplastic composite process. The drivers for these inquiries are twofold: (1) thermoplastic-matrix composites are capturing a larger share of the composite materials market because they compete successfully with those of thermoset composites; and (2) manufacturers and end users always look for ways to reduce processing costs and cycle times through near-net-shape fabrication. We will develop chopped-fiber high performance thermoplastic composites based on a preform of co-deposited thermoplastic and structural fibers, which will be compression molded to final shape. We have co-deposited mixed fibers in 3-DEP numerous times including carbon-glass-aramid, carbon-Spectra, and glass-jute. Making a preform containing a structural fiber and a thermoplastic fiber matrix should be straightforward. The questions to be answered include: how best to consolidate the preform into a composite; what are the physical properties of the composite; what advantages (disadvantages) are there to making thermoplastic-matrix composites by the 3-DEP route relative to other thermoplastic composite routes.