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Polystrand Develops Lightweight, Balanced Tri-Ply Reinforcement

09 April 2007

Polystrand has developed a lightweight and balanced polypropylene impregnated reinforcement tape with fibres arranged in three layers with a 0°/90°/0º orientation.

The continuous 25” wide tape provides 70 percent high-performance glass fibres by weight, made using a proprietary process that impregnates continuous fibre with a polypropylene thermoplastic resin. The reinforcement weighs only 29.4 ounces per square yard, a 20 percent reduction in weight compared to a three-layer product made with standard tapes.

“Tri-Ply reinforcement is essentially a cross-ply sandwich with core fibres at 90 degrees between two layers of fibre at zero,” said Ed Pilpel, president of Polystrand.

“With its low areal density, the tape gives engineers a great way to add strength, impact resistance and stiffness with minimal weight,” he continued. “The tape provides a clean and easy way to reinforce a variety of materials and it is ideal for aerospace, automotive and transportation applications where both strength and weight are critically important.”

Pilpel said development of the new Tri-Ply reinforcement product began with a series of process improvements that enabled Polystrand to reduce the weight of its tapes. A singly ply of standard unidirectional material weighs 12.2 oz. while the new lightweight material is about 20 percent less at 9.8 oz. per square yard. The lightweight material is also available in an X-ply™ reinforcement product that weighs 19.6 oz. compared to 24.4 oz. for standard material.

“The more experience we get the better the products become,” explained Pilpel. “Our product quality has always been the best in the industry and we continue to see it develop and improve as our technical people work with the process. The improvement can be seen in a variety of attributes including fiber alignment, homogeneity, surface finish and laminate integrity.

“Last year we started production with a 25” wide machine that is twice the size of the industry standard,” he continued. “The new line incorporates all that we have learned in the past few years and makes a very efficient product with high surface quality. It’s the result of many years of experience and a lot of know-how in composites applied to a new continuous thermoplastic reinforcement.”

Pilpel said triple-layer Tri-Ply reinforcement tape was developed to provide a “balanced” reinforcement that will lie flat during processing. “The key here is having unidirectional material on both sides of the middle cross or 90° layer.” While the structure of the reinforcement is balanced and flat, its strength is greater in the 0º or “uni” direction, adds Pilpel. “With two-thirds of the reinforcement being zero degree unidirectional, the product provides more strength in that direction,” he explains. “That’s perfect for applications that don’t need a bi-ply with equal strength in both directions.”

Samples of lightweight and Tri-Ply reinforcement material will be shown next week in Paris at JEC Composites 2007, where Polystrand is exhibiting again this year. The company will be in the U.S. Pavilion at stand L 08 J.





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