A composite material (also called a composition material or shortened to composite, which is the common name) is a material which is produced from two or more constituent materials. These constituent materials have notably dissimilar chemical or physical properties and are merged to create a material with properties unlike the individual elements. Within the finished structure, the individual elements remain separate and distinct, distinguishing composites from mixtures and solid solutions.
Typical engineered composite materials include reinforced concrete, plywood, metal matrix composites and reinforced plastics. In the rest of this webpage we will focus on reinforced plastics also called FRP.
FRP is a versatile material that engineers have been applying since long in the aerospace industry. Nowadays this material finds its way in many other markets like automotive, offshore/marine, industrial applications and also in sports (like for instance Formula One and cycling). The reason for its popularity is the favorable combination of properties: lightweight, strong and stiff with excellent durability.
FRP material can be grouped in thermoset composites and thermoplastic composites. Thermoset composite material is actually where the development of fiber reinforced polymers started long ago.
Thermoset is a polymer that is irreversibly hardened by curing from a soft solid or viscous liquid prepolymer or resin. The liquid resin is, due to the relative low viscosity, perfectly suited to be laminated together with fibers and molded into a specific shape: the thermoset composite product. As stated this process is irreversible, which means the material cannot be changed in form or shape and it is therefore not (easily) recyclable.
Thermoplastic (TP) Composite materials contain fibers in a thermoplastic matrix or resin. The manufacturing process to produce thermoplastic composite materials (like UD-tape) is more challenging than the process to produce thermoset composites because of the higher viscosity of the thermoplastics. The manufacturers of thermoplastic composite material offer a large set of different fibers and thermoplastics.
Alformet applies a process called laser assisted tape winding that uses the unique property of thermoplastics: becoming soft at higher temperature (weldability). That same property makes thermoplastic composite material also recyclable.
In the subpages of this menu, we provide more information about the different fiber types and the types of thermoplastic matrix materials that Alformet offers. You’ll be able to select the optimal material for your application.
Feel free to contact us for more information!