Date of Award
Master of Science
Merlin Theodore, Chad Duty
Carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) are widely used throughout the aerospace industry where a weight reduction remains the highest priority with less emphasis on cost. Textile grade carbon fiber (TCF) and other low cost carbon fiber (LCCF) alternatives have recently emerged for use in the automotive market where emissions regulations have pushed automotive manufacturers and research institutions to look for cost effective light weight materials. Fiber reinforced thermoplastics provide an effective solution that align with automotive design including low cost, high processing rates, high impact toughness, unlimited shelf life, and recyclability.
TCF and Zoltek_PX35 fibers are two LCCF aimed at the automotive, wind energy and commercial markets that are helping to push the cost of CF down to approximately $5 per lb. In combination with a hot melt thermoplastic pultrusion impregnation technique, an intermediate low cost composite tape can be produced that is shown to have good mechanical performance when consolidated through hot compression molding (CM). Automation is critical to the required rapid part production and process control within the automotive industry. Research was conducted into the manufacturing process parameters of LCCF composite tapes through in-situ consolidation with an automated tape placement (ATP) or automated fiber placement (AFP) robotic system. This research focuses on the manufacturing of low-cost continuous polypropylene composites and explores the mechanical and morphological properties associated with compression molding and automated tape placement.
Schwartz, Benjamin U., "Comparative Analysis on Low Cost Continuous Carbon Fiber Polypropylene Composite Using Compression Molding and Automated Tape Placement. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2023.