Host Institution: The University of Nottingham
Start Date: 1st June, 2019
Duration: 12 months
Lead Investigator: Andrew Parsons
The remit of the platform fellowship is to expand UK/Hub thermoplastic research activities and capabilities, capture and promote the benefits of thermoplastic composites, identify areas of research opportunity and seek research collaborations.
The activity undertook an extensive paper-based investigation into thermoplastic composites, in particular carbon/nylon. This evaluated current activities and trends in thermoplastic composites processing, suppliers and companies involved and application areas. Key related manufacturing technologies were identified (stamping, injection/over/hybrid moulding, welding, in-situ polymerisation, additive). It was clear that PEEK carbon composites are a significant area of research with a focus on aerospace, with world leaders in the area being in the Netherlands (e.g. TPRC). Nylon carbon has a better fit to automotive, being of considerably lower cost than PEEK but having properties similar to carbon/epoxy along with heat, chemical and impact resistance. Thermoplastic composites also have a particular fit to existing automotive manufacturing culture, being suitable for sheet stamping/forming and spot welding. There are a wide range of non-structural thermoplastic composite parts in automotive, the challenge is to develop structural parts that integrate with the body in white. Suppliers are now accelerating the production of tapes and organosheets to support these efforts. Currently in the process of setting up the Thermoplastics Working Group within the Hub, which arose as an output of the first synergy meeting in November. It is proposed that the group will actively collate available facilities and points of contact, develop thermoplastic-specific industry associations, establish/rationalise hub-supplier links with materials and equipment suppliers, perform horizon scanning and identify national priority areas and work to generate both a thermoplastics core project and applications for external funding.
The work has led to successful funding of an Innovate UK/IACME project entitled “Enhanced Characterisation and Simulation Methods for Thermoplastic Over-moulding”. (ENACT) The project involves the University of Nottingham, Surface Generation and the University of Michigan and started on the 1st of March 2020.
Two feasibility studies have also been granted in the area, which are linked below:
Incremental sheet forming of fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites (University of Nottingham, University of Bristol)
Incorporation of thermoplastic in situ polymerisation in double diaphragm forming (University of Nottingham, University of Edinburgh