PlastiComp Inc. (Winona, Minn., USA) reported on Sept. 10 that it has installed and commissioned a patent-pending manufacturing line for extruding long-fiber thermoplastic (LFT) pipes, beams and other structural profiles.
The crosshead profile-dies used are designed to co-extrude fiber tows or unidirectional tapes as continuous axial reinforcement in the extruding profile. Polymer is delivered from a 3.5-inch/89-mm extruder, providing potential profile outputs up to 800 lb/hr (363 kg/hr), depending upon profile thickness and reinforcing fiber content.
In two initial development applications, 2-inch/51-mm wide rectangular beams and 6-inch/152.4-mm diameter tubes were co-extruded with unidirectional glass-fiber tapes as the axial reinforcement. The matrix materials of these beams and tubes were long glass-fiber polyethylene (PE) and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) compounds, whose composition was specific to the in-use load profile and other material considerations. Possible matrices include any melt-processible polymer.
The addition of extrusion manufacturing complements PlastiComp’s goal of expanding manufacturing options and form-factors of fiber-reinforced thermoplastics for its customers. PlastiComp also acquired a 50,000-ft2 /4,645m2 facility to showcase and expand on such novel manufacturing technologies.
In addition to its independent process and product development, PlastiComp will also partner with customers to develop application-specific, extruded-forms and respective material compositions and fiber architecture. The customer programs are fully supported with in-house computer aided engineering (CAE) capabilities that integrate part and tool design, material-selection and manufacturing.