Since 1966, Ensinger has been active in the field of engineering polymers. The corporate group’s range of products and services covers the entire value added chain – from compounding and extrusion, injection moulding and stock shapes through to finished components. In the business area of thermoplastic composites, Ensinger added some years ago plates and components made from fibre-reinforced thermoplastics, predominantly for applications in the medical market.
Now the Ensinger Group has invested further in the field of composite materials, at the Cham site (Bavaria), where a new facility has been commissioned for the production of thermoplastic prepregs. Ensinger’s range now encompasses thermoplastic, continuous fibre-reinforced semipregs and prepregs, organosheets and compression moulded composite plates from a wide range of material combinations.
> TECATEC CP – Fabric-based semipregs
Among the composite materials being produced by Ensinger at the new facility in Cham are thermoplastic semipreg materials (TECATEC CP). These single layer semipregs made from carbon or glass fibre fabrics are coated with thermoplastic matrix materials. The materials here range from engineering polymers such as polycarbonate and polyamides, to high-performance plastics such as PEI, PEEK and PEKK. Alongside stock materials, its in-house compounding allows Ensinger to also address most customer requests.
> TECATEC IP – Fabric-based prepregs
Also new to the portfolio are thermoplastic prepreg materials (TECATEC IP). These are fully impregnated and consolidated, single layer plies made from carbon or glass fibre fabrics. With these prepregs, the full range of matrix polymers is available. In addition, Ensinger offers customised matrix and fibre combinations, fibre architectures or matrix materials on request.
All semipreg and prepreg products from Ensinger can be processed further into organosheets, thermoplastic composite parts or stock shapes.
> TECATEC OS – Organosheets from composite materials
Thermoplastic organosheets are multi-layer, fully impregnated and consolidated fibre composite materials produced from carbon fibre or glass fibre fabrics and a variety of matrix materials. The organosheets (TECATEC OS) from Ensinger consist of several layers of prepreg or semipreg material, which are stacked according to the customer’s specification and then consolidated to form a laminated organosheet with a thickness of up to 5 mm.
The organosheets offered on coils or as plates can be used for thermoformed parts or for the straightforward manufacture of thicker parts.
For applications in which the properties of unreinforced or short fibre-reinforced plastic stock shapes are insufficient, thermoplastic composite plates are an outstanding alternative. Ensinger offers carbon fibre-reinforced PEEK for medical applications, glass fibre-reinforced PEI and carbon fibre-reinforced PC and PPS as standard. Other material and fibre combinations, types of fabric or customised layer structures are produced on request.
Advantages of the thermoplastic matrix
Continuous fibre reinforcements, e.g. from carbon fibre, enable high rigidity and strength with extremely low weight. The thermoplastic matrix offers many advantages over conventional thermoset (epoxy) matrices, including high impact strength, chemical resistance and thermal stability. A further advantage of the thermoplastic matrix is the thermoformability of the stock shapes and the resulting shorter process times compared with thermoset fibre composite materials. By selecting a suitable matrix material, a wide range of customer requirements can be met. In addition, thermoplastic composites offer a green option to customers. Unlike thermoset composites, thermoplastic composites can be recycled, be this in the form of component recycling or further use of production waste.
Fields of application
Continuous fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites are particularly suitable for use in the automotive industry, in medical technology, in engineering and in the oil and gas sector. For high-end applications in aviation, light and high-strength thermoplastic composites have now become indispensable. Sports goods such as bike components or winter sports equipment are an additional growth market for these modern composite materials.