New Materials

The latest composites technology news

Evolva has teamed up with the US Navy to focus on the development of a new class of structural composite material engineered from a polymer resin matrix fabricated from a specified formulation of Evolva’s resveratrol.

Currently available structural carbon composites are often unsuited for high-energy, high fire-risk applications such as fuel tanks, engine components, high-rise buildings, elevators, rockets, trains, and lithium battery casings, to name just a few.

Resveratrol is an ingredient found in certain plants that is associated with a range of functional effects when the plant is subjected to extreme stress from things like heat, dehydration, or disease. Many of the functional effects associated with resveratrol that are observed in nature are thought to be mediated by its induction of “survival” genes.

The polymer resin matrix being tested for this new class of composite materials is made from a special formulation of resveratrol, which can be economically and sustainably manufactured on an industrial scale using advanced biotechnology and fermentation, converted to a thermosetting monomer, and then polymerised and shaped/moulded using standard fabrication techniques.

Prototype materials made from Evolva’s resveratrol have performed well in preliminary tests, exhibiting a number of advantages over existing fire-resistant materials. Resveratrol polymer composites are lighter than aluminium, halogen free, and able to withstand prolonged exposure to intense heat and flame impingement without combusting or structurally degrading. More testing is needed, but if results remain consistent it could usher in a new class of structural composite materials.

Toho Tenax has announced the development of a new grade carbon fibre that achieves both high-tenacity and high-tensile modulus required for aircraft and automotive applications.

The company developed its new grade carbon fibre with a uniform structure by optimising the structural design of polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based precursor and by optimising the manufacturing process. Compared to the company’s previous product, the existing grade carbon fibre that has been mainly used for aircraft applications, Tenax XMS32 offers 10% more tenacity and 10% greater tensile modulus. In addition, resin adherence has been significantly improved through new surface-modification technology to refine the chemical characteristics of the carbon fibre’s surface and control its smoothness on the nano level.

Carbon fibre used in aircraft, automotive, high-end sports and leisure applications must offer very high levels of stiffness, as well as improved tenacity and tensile modulus. The trend toward the thin-walling of products causes problems with stiffness and tensile modulus properties. It had generally been difficult to realise both tenacity and tensile modulus in PAN carbon fibre due to decreased tenacity resulting from increased tensile modulus.

Toho Tenax is developing prepreg using the new material for airplanes and expects to develop prepregs for automotive and high-end sports and leisure applications in the foreseeable future. Going forward, Toho Tenax will continue extending its lineup of carbon fibre ranging from yarn to structural parts, to meet wide-ranging requirements.

Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for New Materials will be presenting a new composite material that prevents metal corrosion even in extreme conditions.

The patented composite product can be applied by spraying and cures at 150–200°C. It is suitable for steels, metal alloys, aluminium, magnesium and copper and can be used to coat any shape of plates, pipes, gear wheels, tools or machine parts. The specially formulated mixture contains a solvent, a binder and nanoscale and platelet-like particles; it does not contain chromium VI or other heavy metals.

The environmentally friendly process can be used wherever metals are exposed to severe weather conditions, aggressive gases, media containing salt, heavy wear or high pressures. The protective particles arrange themselves like roof tiles, with layers placed on top of each other in an offset arrangement.

The result is a self-organised, highly structured barrier just a few micrometers thick and prevents penetration by gases and electrolytes. It provides protection against corrosion caused by aggressive aqueous solutions, including for example salt solutions found on roads and in the sea, or aqueous acids such as acid rain. The protective layer is an effective barrier, even against corrosive gases or under pressure.

After thermal curing, the composite adheres to the metal substrate, is abrasion-stable and impact-resistant. As a result, it can withstand high mechanical stress. The coating passes the falling ball test with a steel hemispherical ball weighing 1.5 kg from a height of one metre without chipping or breaking and exhibits only slight deformation, which means that the new material can be used even in the presence of sand or mineral dust without wear and tear.

The Institute will be at the TechConnect World trade fair on 15 and 16 June in Washington DC, USA, where it will be working in cooperation with the VDI Association of German Engineers to showcase this material along with its other latest developments at Stand 301 in the German Area.

Zyvex Technologies has announced a new epoxy-composite toughening system for carbon and glass fibre composites.

The new ZNT-boost product by Zyvex Technologies adds increased toughness without compromising on strength and stiffness and unlike most toughening systems Zyvex say this product doesn’t force you to compromise on one property to increase another. ZNT-boost often increases the toughness of the composite up to 100% while increasing the stiffness and strength up to 30%.

ZNT-boost is easy to use with standard composite processing systems and is likely the simplest way to leverage the benefits of carbon nanomaterials. No process changes need to be made and no changes are required in your catalysts or curing agents when using ZNT-boost.

In deploying the first commercial adoption of ZNT-boost, Zyvex Technologies worked closely with Composites Universal Group (CUG) located in Scappoose, Oregon. CUG fabricates components and assemblies for customers needing the high strength and low-weight properties of advanced composites materials.

ZNT-boost is available in two forms: liquid and dry flake (powder) for most epoxy-based composite applications that include prepreg, VARTM, infusions, and hand layup. ZNT-boost works with most forms of epoxy, vinyl esters and polyesters.

Teijin Limited has announced the launch of Teijinconex neo, a new type of meta-aramid fibre offering unsurpassed heat resistance, as well as excellent dye-ability.

Teijin has developed a unique production process which they say will achieve unsurpassed heat resistance and excellent dye-ability. This will provide customers with highly diversified solutions for the design and manufacturing of protective apparel, a feature that is not yet available or offered in the market. In addition, Teijin’s new production technologies ensure a compliance with REACH and other environmental regulations directly out of the factory and without additional treatment.

The company say that this new product will further increase Teijin’s position and competitiveness in the emerging economies of Asia and other regions, where the demand for heat-proof and flame-retardant high-performance materials is growing due to increasing safety awareness and regulations. Teijinconex neo will also meet the strong demand in the markets of Japan, North America and Europe for protective clothing solutions that combine comfort, manoeuvrability as well as high protection property. Teijin is targeting sales revenue of JPY 20 billion in the global safety and protection field by 2020.

Teijin’s aramid fibres Teijinconex meta-aramid, Twaron and Technora para-aramid have increased the advancement of protective apparel over the decades. Production at a new Teijin facility in Ayutthaya, Thailand, which will nearly double the annual capacity of Teijin’s global meta-aramid fibre production, is scheduled to start in mid–2015.

Long fibre reinforced composites have successfully been used to replace metals, such as aluminium because of the weight savings and easier fabrication methods which provide considerable cost reductions. Where composites have fallen short in the past is meeting the combination of both structural and electrical characteristics of metals.

PlastiComp’s new LFT composites match the mechanical performance of pressure die-cast magnesium and aluminium with tensile modulus values up to 42,000 MPa. On the electrical side, they offer surface resistivity values down to 0.2 ohm/sq and EMI shielding capabilities in the 60–80 dB range depending on wall section thickness.

Raj Mathur, Ph.D., Vice President Technology at PlastiComp said;

Even though our new materials contain both long fibre reinforcement and nano fillers to achieve magnesium substitution properties they mould extremely well, PlastiComp has already successfully demonstrated commercial applications, with cross sections in the 0.7 to 1 mm range, which were injection moulded without any difficulty using these LFT composites. Micro-structural characterisation showed a conductive network of intertwined carbon fibres and uniform dispersion of the nano fillers throughout the parts.

The combination of mechanical and electrical properties provided in these new LFT composites are achievable in a wide range of polymers from commodity to engineering resins based on performance requirements and price sensitivity of applications.

In addition to mobile hand-held devices and peripherals in the consumer electronics industry, the new magnesium substitution LFT composites can also replace metal profile extruded frames within the automotive industry.

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