Saturday, November 28, 2015

The efficiency with which we use our finite petro chemical resources is now an every day issue for many people.  The partners in this project are aiming to bring to market new varieties of plastics which will reduce raw material usage and reduce energy usage, both directly and indirectly. 

The aims of the Esprit project are to reduce the amount of plastic used to make a component by 30% and hence reduce component weight by 30%. This will be achieved by developing the next generation of lightweight, self-reinforced plastics together with the energy-efficient manufacturing processes needed to produce components from this family of materials.

Sports protection equipment

Sports protection equipment

Self Reinforced Polymer (SRP) composites - what can they do for me?

Our research has shown that SRP composites have exceptional impact properties allied with light weight.  This makes them suitable for sports protection equipment, automotive impact protection panels, interior trim, luggage, personal protection equipment, aerospace, fan blades and more.  In some varities high stiffness to weight ratio is achieved making it suitable for metal bracket replacement, support structures and technical applications.

As well as offering benefits to designers and manufacturers SRP composites also help to reduce the environmental impact of plastics.  Because they are stiffer and lighter it is possible to design-out weight from components, reducing the polymer usage, reducing transport costs and, in the case of vehicles, saving energy over the lifetime of the product.  At the end of its life, unlike glass or carbon reinforced plastics, SRP composites can be ground down and re-used easily without the need to separate the reinforcement elemnet.

SRP's are easily recycled

SRP's are easily recycled


The Esprit project has completed its first two and a half years research and has carried out an extensive programme of locating, manufacturing and characterising the base materials from which the flowing Self Reinforced Plastics will be made.  These are variations on Self Reinforced Polyolefins (srPO), Self Reinforced Nylons (srPA) and Self Reinforced Polyesters (srPet) 
Partners have made excellent progress in the pultrusion of commingled yarns into a continuous rod which is subsequently chopped into pellets for flow moulding applications. A custom built line has been running successfully which can produce 5kg/hr of pellets derived from PA, PBT, PP and PET combinations. The Esprit project now has a stable basis to efficiently make pellet samples derived from the many modified matrix and reinforcement raw materials being generated by other partners.
A polypropylene based polymer fibre reinforced composite has been created with an extremely high impact strength. The composite, containing relatively long fibres, shows an unusual but highly attractive combination of high modulus, high strain at break, high impact resistance and low notch sensitivity. These material contain fibres up to 10 mm and can be injection moulded into complex shapes – the challenge being to maintain fibre reinforcement integrity through the whole process.  The optimum processing of the new materials is acheived by standard machines adapted in the areas of plastification, injection phase, the heating of the polymer and the temperature control in the barrel and mould. 
Case studies are now being selected in application areas which will benefit from the unique properties of these materials: light weight, excellent impact priperties, stiffness and recyclability.  Applications could be:
  • Automotive protection panels (bumper, underbody)
  • Personal protection equipment
  • Sports goods
  • Fan blades
  • Structural mouldings
  • Luggage
  • Aerospace

Please see the Technical Bulletin available for download under 'Downloads' for more information



This project is funded under the European Seventh Framework Programme Theme NMP-2007-2.4-1, Flexible Efficient Processing for Polymers.


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