Fiber-reinforced thermoplastics offer a number of advantages over thermosets: They can be remelted for example, enabling forming and welding processes as well as materials recycling. The usual processing route is thermoforming, which is suitable for large series production, but limited to components of simple shapes and requires large investments in equipment and semi-finished products. This makes it difficult for SMEs to get started. The project therefore focuses on a technology that can significantly lower the entry threshold for thermoplastic processing. This involves liquid impregnation processes with in-situ polymerizing thermoplastics. These are technically similar to thermoset liquid impregnation processes, which are already widely used.
The aim of the project is to set up the necessary hardware and experience at the institute in order to support SMEs in the application of this technology. To achieve this, an adapted resin injection system and sensor-equipped injection tools are developed. These will be used for investigating different polymer systems and additives. The main objective is the processing of caprolactam to polyamide 6, but the plant will be modular to also enable the processing of other polymer systems on a pilot plant scale.
The design of the injection plant and tools is currently underway, as well as preliminary tests on the processing properties of the respective polymers.