Investigation of Thermoplastic Composite Forming Processes for Automotive and Industrial Structures Production

Academic Institution: University of Glasgow (with the University of Edinburgh)

Academic Supervisor: Dr Philip Harrison

Industry Partner: Johns Manville

PhD Student: Himanthi Nimrekha Kahavita Kahavitage Dona

Start Date: 15th September 2019


Thermoplastic composites provide a route to strong, light-weight, corrosion-resistant materials that are also fully recyclable.

This project will perfect the forming of thermoplastic organosheets into complex shapes in compression moulding processes. At present, forming of dry fabrics and existing thermosets (e.g. epoxies, polyesters) at lower temperatures is relatively well understood with much work performed in recent decades (see of Dr. Phil Harrison University of Glasgow) enabling technologies such as resin transfer moulding of epoxy composites etc.

However, higher-temperature thermoplastics, with the added complication of their crystallinity and its control, require a different processing approach that still requires more fundamental understanding, both through experimental and numerical modelling.

This project will rapidly apply proven forming and forming simulation techniques to the new thermoplastic organosheet technology in a relatively short period so that the use of this thermoplastic forming technology in the composites industry can be more rapidly accelerated.

The project will also help better understand crystallisation processes from thermoplastic melt and its relationship to strain fields within a forming three-dimensional part, thus enabling better process control.

Johns Manville, the industrial sponsor, (a member of the Berkshire-Hathaway Group) is already heavily invested in this technology and supplies a number of markets worldwide. These markets are expected to grow substantially in the coming decades, including in automotive, and are expected to create opportunities for existing Scottish textiles firms to expand into the supply of fibre-reinforced composites.