Since the development of thermoplastic composite materials in the early 1970s, it has always been valued by various countries. Aerospace, automotive, chemical, electronics, and other fields are all areas where thermoplastic composite materials are developed at a faster pace. Especially in the past decade, the annual consumption has increased by over 25%, and the development rate is several times higher than that of thermosetting composites.
Advantages of thermoplastic over thermosetting
Easy storage: The raw material can be stored in room temperature for a long time.
Available for fusion connecting
Excellent performance: Higher toughness and damage tolerance, better flame retardancy and lower smoke toxicity, lower moisture absorption
Fast forming and various forming methods, more suitable for automatic production
Resins for thermoplastic composite materials
- Common high performance thermoplastic resins: PEEK, PEI, PPS, PEEKK, etc. they are excellent in notched impact resistance and damage tolerance. PEEK has the most applications in aerospace.
- Other thermoplastic resins: PA, PP, PE, PC, PET, TPU, etc.
Current situation of thermoplastic composite materials
Foreign research on continuous fiber-reinforced high-performance prepregs started earlier and is currently in the stage of industrial production.
Domestic research on continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composite prepreg preparation has just begun. Tape casting is now the major technology for prepreg tapes of thermoplastic resin of fiber reinforced PP, PA, PC, PE, etc.. Some manufacturers also have made out carbon fiber prepreg PPS and PEEK.
Future growth of thermoplastic composite materials
Europe is the largest region of thermoplastic composite production. In 2018, the region’s output accounted for about 29.9% of the global market share. The second production region was China, which had a production share of about 29.3%.
In 2018, global production of thermoplastic composite materials was 7.352 million tons. Although the market is facing many unfavorable factors, such as environmental issues and the emergence of alternatives, the market demand is nonetheless gradually expanding. It is estimated that by 2025, the global market of thermoplastic composite materials will reach 186.4 billion yuan.