PFINZTAL, Germany, Aug. 18 (UPI) — German researchers say they’ve developed a way to mass-produce a safer class of materials for use in automobile crash components.
Materials known as thermoplastic fiber composites could replace less-suitable materials in stressed load-bearing structures and crash components in automobiles, the Fraunhofer-Institute for Chemical Technology said in a release Wednesday.
Automakers have previously made such parts from composites using a thermoset matrix. But this approach had a number of disadvantages: difficulty of efficient mass production, potential hazards from splintering in a collision and recycling problems.
The new thermoplastic fiber composite materials, however, once they have reached the end of their useful life, can be shredded, melted down and reused to produce high-quality parts, researchers say.
They also perform significantly better in crash tests by absorbing the enormous forces generated in a collision through deformation of the matrix material — without splintering.
The production efficiency issue also has been resolved, researchers say.
“The cycle time to produce thermoplastic components is only around 5 minutes,” institute project manager Deiter Gittel said. “Comparable thermoset components frequently require more than 20 minutes.”
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