Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Mechanical Engineering

Major Professor

Uday Vaidya

Committee Members

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.

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