Frequently asked questions related to our tubes

General

FRP material is a versatile material with high performance characteristics. It possesses valuable engineering properties, like high strength/stiffness combined with a low density. Additionally the durability, like for instance corrosion and chemical resistance, is another characteristic that favors the application of FRT in engineering challenges.

FRP is also called CFRP when the reinforcement is carbon fiber material and GFRP when glass fibers are used.

The ‘P’ in ‘FRP’ stands for Polymer or Plastic. Alformet uses only Thermoplastic material reinforced with fibers. Thermoplastic material has the advantage of being 100% recyclable and contributes to the transition to a circular economy.

The word plastic is the common name for synthetic polymer, so there is no difference if you refer to synthetic material.  There are three types of polymers: thermoset, thermoplastic and elastomer.

  • Thermoset is obtained by irreversibly hardening ("curing") a soft solid or viscous liquid prepolymer (resin)

  • Thermoplastic, or thermosoftening plastic, is a plastic polymer material that becomes pliable or moldable at a certain elevated temperature and solidifies upon cooling.

  • An elastomer is a polymer with viscoelasticity (i.e., both viscosity and elasticity) and with weak intermolecular forces, generally low Young's modulus and high failure strain compared with other materials.

Fiber Reinforced Polymer/Plastic is a polymer/plastic with reinforcement from fibers. This type of material is an engineering material and substitutes metal in many applications, due to the favorable characteristics.

Alformet processes only thermoplastic material with fiber reinforcement. These are commonly called Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastics (FRTP) or Thermoplastic Composites and are 100% recyclable.

Both terms refer normally to the same: Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastics is more often used as it specifically indicates that fibers are used to reinforce the thermoplastics. Examples are PP-GF (polypropylene with glass fibers) or PEEK-CF (polyetheretherketone with carbon fibers).

Thermoplastic Composite literally means that the composite (combination of two materials) consists of thermoplastic and another (reinforcing) element. Any other element that improves the characteristics can therefore be used (of which fibers is one option). For instance a sandwich panel of aluminium sheets with thermoplastic material in between is also called a (thermoplastic) composite.

Alformet processes only fiber reinforced thermoplastics with its laser winding technology. Thermoplastics are 100% recyclable.

CFRP stands for Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer/Plastic and reflects a group of plastics that are reinforced with carbon fibers to provide it with high strength and stiffness, while reducing weight compared to most other materials like metals. The group of plastics which can be reinforced with carbon fibers, can be split in two main groups: thermoset and thermoplastics.


CFRTP stands for Carbon Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastics and is a subgroup within the CFRP material group. Thermoplastics reinforced with carbon fibers have other characteristics compared to carbon fiber reinforced thermosets.  Thermoplastics are recyclable and fit in the circular economy model.

GFRP stands for Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer/Plastic and reflects a group of plastics that are reinforced with glass fibers to provide it with high strength and (moderate) stiffness, while reducing weight compared to most other materials like metals. The group of plastics which can be reinforced with glass fibers, can be split in two main groups: thermoset and thermoplastics.

GFRTP stands for Glass Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastics and is a subgroup within the GFRP material group. Thermoplastics reinforced with glass fibers have other characteristics compared to glass fiber reinforced thermosets.  Thermoplastics are recyclable and fit in the circular economy model.

The continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastics contain fibers that are endless or continuous. These continuous fibers offer optimal strength and stiffness as they support the full structure in contradiction to the short or long fibers, which can only bear partial loads. The highest mechanical properties of a structure can be obtained by applying continuous fibers.

Laser Assisted Tape Winding (LATW), an Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) technology

The most common processes to make FRP products are most of the time very labour intensive and therefore not suitable for mass production. These processes are often difficult to automate and require multiple steps.

Laser assisted tape winding is a so called AFP (automated fiber placement) technology and like laser assisted tape laying, it has the advantage that the technology can be automated. In robotised or CNC-automated cells, the process takes care of the manufacturing of products and allows the flexibility to produce many different type of products in one cell. The laser power enables high productivity of the manufacturing process.

A major advantage is, compared to the technologies to process fibre reinforced thermoset material, that there is no need for an additional curing step. This simplifies the manufacturing process and prevents high investment in specialised autoclave equipment.

 

The laser assisted tape winding technology is originally developed by Boeing. After that AFPT GmbH took the challenge to bring the technology to industrial level. The technology enables the automated production of fiber reinforced thermoplastic products like tubes and rings, mainly for high demanding applications.

Examples are:

  • drive shafts (power transmission)

  • frames for solar panels on sea (structural elements)

  • hydraulic cilinders (pressure containment)

Products

After finishing the tube winding process, the outside of the tube shows the tape with the selecected winding angle. That can be either a cross winding pattern or a hoop winding, where the tape looks like a spiral. The surface is not perfect smooth, it has a certain roughness that varies within half the tape thickness. If required the surface can additionally be upgraded by adding an (decorative) layer or treating the outside of the tube (machining or reheating).

Yes, the tubes made from CFR Thermoplastic material can be machined similar to metal products. Important to know is that each material demands specific tools and machine settings to achieve a high quality and productivity of the (cutting) operation. For instance the cutting speed for thermoplastic composite material is higher than for steel and  the best result are  achieved with high speed milling equipment and tools. Please refer to the specialised equipment and tool manufacturers for more information.

If you want Alformet can provide additional machining of the tubes for you. Contact us to receive an offer (info@alformet.com)

Yes, these are made on special request and require more time. Please contact us for the possibilities at phone number +31 416 235 074 or e-mail us at info@alformet.nl

Processing

Yes, thermoplastic material becomes soft at a specific temperature, so it is possible to weld the tubes. Pay attention to the following remarks:

  • Select the same thermoplastic material for the welding to get an optimal result;

  • The strength of the welded material is not similar to the fiber reinforced material where the tube is made from. The weld zone has no reinforcement fibers;

  • After welding some tensions can remain. Like with metal, in some cases is an annealing treatment required to reduce tensions in the material.

Yes, the tubes made from CFR Thermoplastic material can be machined similar to metal products. Important to know is that each material demands specific tools and machine settings to achieve a high quality and productivity of the (cutting) operation. For instance the cutting speed for thermoplastic composite material is higher than for steel and the best results are achieved with high speed milling equipment and tools. Please refer to the specialised equipment and tool manufacturers for more information.

If you want Alformet can provide additional machining of the tubes for you. Contact us to receive an offer (info@alformet.com)

We can offer the following operations:

  • cut to length
  • drilling
  • milling
  • bending

Without presenting detailed numbers, the CO2 footprint of the CFR Thermoplastic tube production and processing in Alformet is very low. We use only renewable energy, required for all processes.

We aiming for a reduction of our CO2 footprint for instance by considering smarter solutions in transport of material from our suppliers and to our customers.

Delivery

Yes, we deliver to consumers (B2C) and to businesses (B2B). We are happy to help you out in case you have questions about your specific tube application.

No, we make everything to order. When we receive your order that is based on available tooling in Alformet, we can ship your order out within 3 working days. If we need specific tooling for your order, we will inform you first about the additional cost and delivery time.

Yes, we have the flexibility in our process to deliver you from a single piece to large series of products. Please contact us for the possibilities at phone number +31 416 235 074 or e-mail us at info@alformet.com

Our standard time required for shipping is 3 working days after receipt of the order. For special orders or non standard tubes, we will inform you about the delivery time.

Yes, after shipment, the carrier company will send you the tracking information by e-mail.

Yes, that is possible on request. Please let us now in case you want to pick up the order at our address in Drunen (Noord-Brabant, The Netherlands)

Yes, we do. Shipments within Europe is always possible. For shipments outside of Europe, please contact us before placing an order.

We deliver our products standard within Europe. For deliveries outside Europe, please contact us before placing an order.

After Sales

That is depending on your location. Please contact us to support you to find the closest possible location for recycling.

Make sure to sort the end-of-life waste and to collect each material type separately. That means for instance GF-PP (Glass Fiber in PP matrix) separate from CF-PP (Carbon Fiber in PP matrix) and that counts also for each type of thermoplastic matrix. This way the maximum value of the material at the end of the life cycle can be maintained.

You can bring the end-of-life waste to the recycling facility in your area. Please contact us if you need support.