Altuglas® Composite, the first thermoplastic resin that processes like thermosets wins JEC award
The resulting composite parts exhibit mechanical properties similar to those of thermoset parts, but their thermoplastic nature brings the added advantages of thermoformability and recyclability. With this major innovation, Arkema and its partners have won a JEC Award in the “Thermoplastics” category.
Altuglas® Composite is an innovative acrylic material, developed within an R&D partnership between Arkema and PPE (Pôle de Plasturgie de l’Est)1. To optimize Altuglas® Composite formulations, Arkema and PPE have partnered with specialists in the composite industry – MVC (Brazil), Chomarat (France) and 3B-Fibreglass (Belgium).
Similar properties to thermoset composites, but also thermoformable, recyclable, weldable and styrene-free!
Altuglas® Composite resin solutions enable the production of (meth)acrylic thermoplastic composites, reinforced by continuous glass, carbon or flax fibers with the same processes (RTM or Infusion) used today to produce thermoset composite parts (made with Unsaturated Polyester, Vinyl Ester or Epoxy resins) with similar polymerization cycle times. The resulting parts show properties, in terms of rigidity and mechanical strength, comparable to parts made with thermoset resins, while presenting the major advantages of being recyclable and suitable for post-thermoforming and welding.
The (meth)acrylic nature of Altuglas® Composite enables more possibilities for composite/composite or composite/metal assemblies. Very high mechanical strength for such assemblies can be achieved through the use of adhesives (e.g. methacrylate-based structural adhesives) or, due to the thermoplastic nature of the matrix, through welding in the case of composite/composite assemblies.
Moreover, Altuglas® Composite resins solutions are styrene-free. They are available with ready-to-use Luperox® peroxide initiators from Arkema’s range, allowing optimized polymerization.
Successful partnership with MVC
Altuglas® Composite can be used for aesthetic semi-structural composite parts such as shaped truck parts, bus body panels, hoods for agricultural machinery, etc., usually made of UPR-based composites.
To refine the Altuglas® Composite formulation for these parts, Arkema and PPE have collaborated with MVC, a Brazilian company well known for its expertise in the manufacture of technical composite parts. The partners succeeded in developing the first large demonstration part produced using a room temperature RTM-light process with Altuglas® Composite resin. The reinforcing glass fabric, processing equipment and polymerization cycle time were identical to those used by MVC today for the industrial production of UPR composite parts.
Additionally, Arkema and MVC have developed a fully thermoplastic solution which eliminates the need for a traditional gel-coat for upper layer. In this technology, the decorative layer is prepared by thermoforming a thermoplastic multilayer sheet such as ABS/PMMA in the mold prior to the reinforcing fabric laying operation. The Altuglas® Composite resin matrix naturally adheres to the ABS/PMMA surface layer.
Range of properties enhanced through partnerships with additional industry leaders
Altuglas® Composite is also suitable for high performance structural composite parts used in applications such as wind turbines, automotive parts or sports equipment, mostly based today on epoxy resins.
To develop an optimized solution for glass reinforced Altuglas® Composite based structural composites, Arkema and PPE have collaborated with Chomarat, a French reinforcing fabrics producer, and the Belgium based glassfiber producer, 3B-Fibreglass. The definition of optimized fibers, sizing and reinforcing fabric for Altuglas® Composite matrices leads to composites that reach mechanical strengths very similar to those of>(1) In early 2011, Arkema and PPE created a joint research laboratory located in Saint-Avold (France) aimed at the development of innovative chemistries and processes for the production of thermoplastic composite parts.