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Making vehicles safer with thermoplastic fiber composite components

“A car’s crash components can spell the difference between life and death. “Their job is to absorb energy in a collision in order to protect the driver inside. Researchers have now found a way for the automotive industry to mass-produce a particularly safe class of materials known as thermoplastic fiber composite components.  ...  Highly stressed load-bearing structures and crash components that are designed to buckle on impact help to reinforce the body in order to protect the vehicle‘s occupants in the event of a collision. Automakers have previously constructed these parts from composites using a thermoset (i.e. infusible) matrix. But this approach has a number of disadvantages: as well as being difficult to implement efficiently in a mass production environment, it can also be potentially hazardous since this material tends to »delaminate« into sharp-edged splinters in a collision. A further problem is the fact that thermosets cannot be recycled. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT in Pfi nztal have now found a solution to this problem by developing a new class of materials designed for large-scale use in vehicle construction: thermoplastic fiber composite materials. Once they have reached the end of their useful life, they can be shredded, melted down and reused to produce high-quality parts. And they also perform significantly better in crash tests: thermoplastic components reinforced with textile structures absorb the enormous forces generated in a collision through viscoelastic deformation of the matrix material – without splintering.” Read more at http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2010/08/making-vehicles-safer.jsp
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