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TPRC Begins Research on Thermoplastic Composites

16 April 2013

The Thermoplastic Composite Research Center (TPRC) in Enschede, The Netherlands, has begun researching thermoplastic composites.

The TPRC, in cooperation with the University of Twente and major partners such as Boeing, says thermoplastics are the ‘material of the future’ as they are incredibly light, durable, strong, rigid, and impact resistant. It also states discoveries made by Sebastiaan Haanappel, a PhD student at the University of Twente, make unexpected process-induced defects an obsolete issue.Mr Haanappel notes that “We can now detect about 70% of the distortions and potential defects prior to the actual production process. Our results could lead to a massive breakthrough of this material in the automotive and aircraft industries.”

Haanappel, who was the first PhD student at the TPRC, investigated the effectiveness of computer simulations in predicting laminate deformations during the stamp forming process. Dr René ten Thije from AniForm, a University of Twente spin-off company, who designs the software used for computer simulations, expects to have a user-friendly version ready for the market in a few months’ time. Mr Haanappel said he used the AniForm simulation software to assess its predictive capabilities and to obtain a profound understanding of the deformation behaviour of the considered composite material.  Haanappel points out that “70% of the deformations can be predicted by using the AniForm simulation software, provided that the behaviour of the material in question has been thoroughly characterised and described by the model. This also implies that it is possible to predict defects like wrinkling.”

Mr Haanappel says his work has shown that forming simulation software has great potential for integration into the product development process. It allows for a relatively quick evaluation of modifications such as the product geometry design, the manufacturing process settings, and the material configuration. “It is a big advantage to avoid trial and error in practice, which can be prohibitively expensive. Once I have obtained my PhD, I will continue my activities at the AniForm spin-off company. Our aim is to lower the threshold of the application of thermoplastic composites, to be achieved by offering support to industry in terms of software, consultancy and advice.”

The PhD thesis entitled “Forming of UD fibre-reinforced thermoplastics: a critical evaluation of intra-ply shear” is available on request from m.vanhillegersberg@utwente.nl.






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