Thermoplastic composites are highly ductile material which can be repaired even after when put into service. They have high toughness, good strength and the ability to be remolded and recycled. These properties make the thermoplastic composites a suitable construction material. They are generally used for lightweight structures, storage tanks, door and window frames and panels.
A composite material is a multiphase material, formed by the combination of materials differing in their composition which remain bonded together keeping their identities and properties intact, without going into any chemical reaction.
The composite material does not dissolve but completely merge with each other. They maintain an interface between each other and act in concrete to provide improved specific or synergistic characteristic not obtainable by any of the original component acting singly.
Lastly, there are two major types of thermoplastic composites, namely- glass mat thermoplastics composite(GMT) and advanced thermoplastic composites(ATC). Different fibers and matrix are used to produce these types of composites.
Types of Thermoplastic Composite
Thermoplastic composites are divided into two major types which include Glass Mat Thermoplastics (GMT) and Advanced Thermoplastic Composites (ATC).
1. Glass Mat Thermoplastics Composite (GMT)
It is composed of different thermoplastic matrixes such as polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, polyamide, polyesters, polycarbonate and polyphenylene sulphide. E-glass fiber in the form of chopped fibers, randomly chopped fibers or continuous mats are the most common reinforcing phase.
2. Advanced Thermoplastic Composites (ATC)
There are number of matrices which can be used in combination with fibers to produce advanced thermoplastic composite. Initially, amorphous resins such as polyethersulphone and polyetherimide were employed.
However, where increased solvent resistance was required, semi-crystalline polymers such as polyether ketone and polyphenylene sulphide may be utilized. Examples of fibers include carbon for high-temperature applications and E-glass for low-temperature applications.
Properties of Thermoplastic Composite
- Good strength
- Low density, hence light weight
- Good toughness
- Ability to be remolded
- Good environmental resistance
- Compositions can be customized to suit a range of temperature and environmental conditions
- It has an indefinite shelf life
- Excellent thermal stability and chemical resistance
- Processing cycles are short and simple which potentially reduce significant manufacturing costs.
- It has the ability to be re-melted and re-processed.
- Damaged structures can be repaired by the application of heat and pressure.
- Does not contain any reactive chemicals.
- Reduces the weight without compromising structural strength.
- Low moisture absorption
- Flexible to handle complex design geometries.
- Thermoplastic components can be welded together which eliminates the weight and cost of fasteners.
- Construction of structural profiles, pipes, concrete rebars and lightweight structural and insulating panels, hemispherical or pyramidical domes.
- Construction of storage tanks for household, factory, and offices.
- It is used to manufacture bathtub, wash basin, and shower stalls.
- Production of window panel doors.
- Aircraft manufacturers are benefiting from thermoplastic composites in the form of a tough and durable structural material.
- The material-handling industry benefits from these materials in the form of pallets and cargo containers.
- Due to adequate thermal insulation, they are used in the construction of temporary shelters.
- Thermoplastic composite can be used as floors as well as tiles.
- Manufacturing of fire-retardant chairs and benches for outdoor uses.