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Self-reinforced PP composite shows promise in automotive. (Composites).

BP Fabrics and Fibers (formerly Amoco Fabrics) of Austell, Ga., will soon begin producing a new all-polypropylene composite sheet called Curv. The 1- to 3-mm-thick sheet is formed out of PP fibers using a proprietary hot-compaction process. The process causes the outer 20% of each fiber to melt into a bonding matrix while the remaining fiber core stays intact. The fibers thus keep their original orientation and high tensile properties (obtained by 18:1 stretching) in order to function as continuous reinforcements in the sheet.

Curv sheet is formed into shapes at around 320 F (just below its melting point) and relatively low pressures (100 psi), using conventional thermoforming equipment with pressure-forming capability or a matched-die compression press.

This composite could replace glass-mat reinforced (GMT) PP sheet and glass-filled PP injection molding compounds in semi-structural applications that don't require high-temperature performance. These include automotive under-body shields and load floors and numerous consumer products.

Curv's tensile strength and stiffness reportedly far exceed those of conventional PP sheet. "Impact resistance, especially at low temperature, and abrasion resistance are also significantly better than GMT," claims Derek Riley, market-development manager. Curv will be produced at a 12-million lb/yr facility in Gronau, Germany, and will be available shortly for $2.50 to $3.50/lb.

An emerging application is replacing vinyl coated GMT in automotive under-body shields used to provide stone-impact protection and aerodynamics. Curv's density is 0.920 g/cc, much less than GMT at 1.19 g/cc or glass-reinforced pellets at up to 1.49 g/cc. "We are looking to take 50% out of the weight of a typical undershield and still have better impact and abrasion performance," Riley says. He notes that Curv is already specified for a 2002-model European car.

Other prospective automotive uses include load floors (e.g., spare-wheel floors and supports), rear parcel shelves, and trunk shelves. Outside of automotive, Curv is being used in a loudspeaker cone, and other promising applications include shin guards, sports helmets, and turbine blades. *30*
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Title Annotation:from BP Fabrics and Fibers Business Unit
Comment:Self-reinforced PP composite shows promise in automotive. (Composites).(from BP Fabrics and Fibers Business Unit)(Brief Article)(Statistical Data Included)
Publication:Plastics Technology
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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