In contrast to crosslinking thermosets, whose cure reaction cannot be reversed, thermoplastics harden when cooled but retain their plasticity; that is, they will remelt and can be reshaped by reheating them above their processing temperature. Less-expensive thermoplastic matrices offer lower processing temperatures but also have limited use temperatures. They draw from the menu of both engineered and commodity plastics, such as polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), polycarbonate (PC), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyamide (PA or nylon) and polypropylene (PP). High-volume commercial products, such as athletic footwear, orthotics and medical prostheses, benefit from the toughness and moisture resistance of these resins, as do automotive air intake manifolds and other underhood parts.
Yes, advanced forms are in development, but has the technology progressed enough to make the business case?
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LANXESS reports that its subsidiary Bond-Laminate has begun production of pre-consolidated, continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic Tepex composite laminates that feature fiber layers oriented at almost any conceivable angle.