Long fiber thermoplastics continue to expand into traditional composite market areas, benefitting from better recyclability and the need for improved production cycle times. Reinforced Plastics looks at some recent developments.

Thermosets still dominate the global composites materials market, however, there has been a significant shift towards thermoplastics, with long fiber materials being an important part of the transformation. At the recent Advanced Engineering Show – Composites Forum, Nigel O’Dea, Business Development Manager Europe at Lucintel reported that while the global composites market has grown from US$23.9 billion in 2013 to US$29.9 billion in 2017, the proportion of the total for thermoplastic composites had grown from 25% to 39% in the four-year period. He emphasized that the shift to thermoplastics is expected to continue, driven by easier recyclability and faster production cycle times. Thermoset composites are still likely to be predominantly used in construction, pipe and tank, wind turbine blades, marine, and electrical and electronic, while thermoplastic applications are expected to grow in aerospace, automotive and transportation, and consumer goods.

One company at the forefront of long fiber thermoplastic (LFT) composite developments is US-based PlastiComp. Its acquisition by PolyOne Corporation in June 2018 brought new opportunities for the organization to grow. Founded in 2003 by Stephen Bowen, PlastiComp has steadily grown its long fiber technology for metal replacement and lightweighting applications. The company’s Complet™ LFT product lines and design capabilities are serving global customers in a wide-range of demanding applications, including automotive, medical devices, robots and drones, marine, and outdoor high performance equipment (Figure 1). PlastiComp’s 50 employees and its design and production facility in Winona, Minnesota, USA join PolyOne as part of its Specialty Engineered Materials segment.

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