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25th September 2016, Leverkusen

New advantages with Covestro’s CFRTPs

Covestro is introducing a new composite technology based on thermoplastic materials and carbon fibres for the efficient production of thin-walled housings and other components for electronic devices, which the market is demanding should be thinner, lighter and more robust all at the same time.

Metals and conventional composites rapidly reach their limits when faced with such demands, Covestro says, but its new CFRTP (continuous fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites) allow new potential for further processing by customers.

Metals and conventional composites rapidly reach their limits when faced with such demands, Covestro says, but its new CFRTP (continuous fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites) allow new potential for further processing by customers.

“In consumer electronics products, our CFRTPs provide the best strength-to-weight ratio of all standard composites on the market and also outperform metals in this respect,” says David Hartmann, who is part of the thermoplastic composites team at Covestro. “This means they’re ideal for making parts for IT devices that are impressively robust despite their thin-walled, lightweight design. They also fulfil the high standard of Underwriters Laboratories’ UL94 V-0 flammability rating.”

The composites are based on films of endless unidirectional carbon fibres (UD films). Several layers of these films are positioned one on top of the other, cut and then laminated. This produces extremely stiff and lightweight composite sheets with no distortion or shrinkage. The number, direction and sequence of layers can be optimised for the relevant application.

The external appearance of the sheet blanks is different from typical semi-finished plastic materials since they have an ‘organic’ grain pattern, feel cool to the touch due to their excellent thermal conductivity and sound like metals on impact.

Unlike small-series production with thermosetting plastics, Covestro CFRTP solutions enable flexible, cost-efficient mass production with short cycle times – with minimal manual work – and high yields. The sheets are easy to transport without any cooling or special treatment. The customer’s further processing can include thermoforming, back moulding, CNC milling or other processes. Unlike thermosetting plastics, the composites can be easily recycled at the end of their service life.

Covestro is confident its thermoplast-based composites have a good chance of enjoying future market success and is investing in their further development. Besides research and last year’s acquisition of a company specializing in composites, current activities are focusing on gradually establishing a global production network and an expanded product portfolio.

“We’re also working with machine manufacturers and carbon fibre suppliers to press ahead with the rollout of this technology,” says Dr Michael Schmidt of the team.

The composites give product designers an unprecedented degree of design freedom. Different combinations of resin and fibres can be used to create specific visual effects and textures – in the mould or using sandblasting, CNC milling or laser cutting, for example. Coating and various printing/embossing processes open up further possibilities.

Openings and functions can also be integrated into the components themselves. It is possible to vary the wall thickness or to incorporate windows that allow RF radiation to pass through them.

Covestro CFRTP solutions also offer new design options for components used in the automotive and transport industry. These include door trim, bodywork parts and backrests. In buses, trucks and railroad cars, the composites could be used for applications such as interior and exterior panelling.

 

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