Natural Fibre Reinforced Thermoplastics for Injection Moulding (NAT-IM)

Lead Participant: Netcomposites Limited

Abstract

The injection moulding of long-fibre-reinforced thermoplastics (LFTs) is one of the few polymer composite material technologies that is genuinely capable of realising the high production volumes required by the mainstream automotive and consumer goods sectors. However, the glass fibre reinforcements that are currently used in LFTs are heavy, brittle and energy intensive, thereby compromising the lightweighting potential, processability and sustainability of LFTs. As a superior alternative to glass, NetComposites has developed an LFT material based on natural fibres such as flax, jute or hemp. These are 40% lighter than glass fibres whilst having a similar stiffness. They are also much less brittle and much more sustainable. To date NetComposites has developed a pilot line for producing the natural fibre LFT materials. Their technical performance has been proven through successful trials at an automotive component manufacturer. However, a barrier to their commercialisation remains - the current manufacturing process is both too costly and lacks scale. The aim of this project, therefore, is to develop a modified manufacturing process to allow the natural fibre LFT materials to be supplied at a similar cost and in similar volumes to the incumbent glass-LFTs.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Netcomposites Limited, Chesterfield £566,400 £ 396,480
 

Participant

Orangebox Limited, CARDIFF
Bangor University, United Kingdom £206,140 £ 206,140
Rosti Automotive Pickering Ltd, York £6,344 £ 3,172

Publications

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