Although carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastic has many advantages, it is not yet easily accessible to most designers. The first reason they feel afraid to try this new material is the high cost. Expensive raw material means high production costs, which will directly impair market competitiveness. The second reason is that what we have known about CFRT is rather less than that about traditional metals, and also, much less than what we want to know. The development of composite materials is getting faster, and there are many types of composites due to the combination of various matrices and reinforcements. Dozens of common thermoplastic composites able to combine with carbon fiber are only common types. Designers acquainted with metals for many years often feel powerless in the face of complicated thermoplastics under different conditions.
One of the ways out of the dilemma is the coordination and joint efforts of both suppliers and consumers. For example, automated manufacturing is an efficient way to reduce the overall cost and promote the development of the composite market.
Thermoplastic resin composites are far better than thermosetting materials in terms of specific strength, heat resistance, impact resistance, and wear resistance. These advantages are even more obvious in front of traditional metals. It’s confirmed that the value of this advanced composite is self-evident, and the higher cost will bring your products unsurpassed quality. Careful consideration should be put into where and how to use it. It may be a long term of repeated verification. Moreover, different thermoplastic resin systems are suitable for different purposes. It remains a challenging subject to find the optimal solution among multiple choices between different systems and structures.
Fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites seem to have a long way to go before they enter aviation, medical, and other high-end manufacturing fields, but there are already a lot of successful cases that emerged. CFRT can be made into various products led by thermoplastic honeycomb sandwich panels, truck body panels, composite panels, etc.. Some world-leading corporations mentioned in this column have applied CFRT in lightweight vehicles: aerodynamic skirts, cold van bodies, dry cargo boxes… They have contributed a lot to the environment and energy-saving.