This tipping hopper made of fibre reinforced thermoset composite is used in the Netherlands to transport hot asphalt. It will be realised in a thermoplastic version soon. (Picture courtesy of TenCate.)
This tipping hopper made of fibre reinforced thermoset composite is used in the Netherlands to transport hot asphalt. It will be realised in a thermoplastic version soon. (Picture courtesy of TenCate.)

Wind turbines – and their rotor blades – are getting bigger and bigger. While it is possible to make blades of up to 75 m long from thermosetting resin, repairing any damage that may occur is very laborious. However, all thermoplastic polymers liquefy when heated under controlled conditions. In this way, it is possible for cracks, for example, to be eliminated completely.

These lightweight yet high-strength materials have also become indispensable in the mass production of electric cars. Fibre reinforced thermoplastic composite parts can be produced in cycle times of only 1-2 minutes, which is a mere fraction of the curing times needed for thermoset components.

Together with the short production cycles, car manufacturers also appreciate the greater freedom they now have in part design and in the production processes. Carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites can save up to 30% weight in automotive engineering while enhancing passenger compartment safety at the same time.

As well as the carbon fibre thermoplastic parts already used in aircraft today, it also conceivable for the aviation sector to use thermoplastic composites for the wing structures, whose uplift decreases proportionally as the tanks empty during flight. However, the switch to thermoplastic technology is also generating a demand for special know-how.

This is why Messe Bremen and the Faserinstitut Bremen are holding the ITHEC International Conference and Exhibition on Thermoplastic Composites on 29-30 October in Bremen, Germany, where experts will discuss the issues involved in this change of technology.

The conference and exhibition is being supported by organisations such as TenCate Cetex BV, TPRC ThermoPlastic Composite Research Centre, LANXESS Deutschland GmbH, Victrex Plc, Daimler AG, KraussMaffei Technologies GmbH, CFK VALLEY Stade eV, SAMPE, Airborne BV, Premium AEROTEC GmbH, SUZLON BV; Toho Tenax Europe GmbH, TU Delft, Volkswagen AG, and xperion Aerospace.