IPCO’s unique range of double belt press technologies is enabling the production of sustainable high performance thermoplastic composites – often with increased recycled content.

As the drive towards greater use of sustainable products gains speed, the importance of and demand for thermoplastic composites as a high strength, low weight replacement for legacy materials – metals and wood-based products – is only going to increase. This in turn will require innovative processes and technologies capable of the efficient production of these high performance composite materials in high volumes, as Michael Tobiasz, Regional Product Specialist at IPCO, explains.

“Our double belt presses and precision scattering systems are already being used for the industrial scale production of composite materials for the building, interior design, transportation, aerospace and automotive sectors, so the technology needed to deliver tomorrow’s materials is already proven.”

“What we are seeing now is the next wave in high performance composites, materials that take the concept of sustainability a significant step further. This means replacing thermoset composites – which are difficult to recycle – with thermoplastics and, where possible, replacing glass fiber products with natural fiber and bio-based materials.”

Applications include the use of bio-panels on EVs (electric vehicles), RVs, commercial vehicles and semi-trailers. Production of this material results in 76% lower carbon emissions, 82% less water consumption and 89% less waste production. Significantly lighter than steel and characterized by high tensile modulus properties, natural fiber composites are also ideal for many aspects of construction.

A key focus of sustainability and meeting decarbonization objectives is the life cycle of a material and bio-based composites have the major benefit of being recyclable. Another aspect of sustainability is the circular economy, the reuse and recycling of materials. Manufacturers and users of composites are looking at how to increase recycled content in their materials.

“This requires technologies capable of handling and processing a wide variety of products and process requirements,” says Tobiasz. “At IPCO, we can supply ThermoPress double belt presses with modules for low to high pressure and temperature requirements and we are the only OEM in the world able to produce presses based on steel belts, PTFE belts, or both.”

One or more ScatterPro precision scattering units can be incorporated into the same continuous, highly automated line, enabling IPCO to supply end-to-end production solutions for all types of high performance composite material.

AZL NewsLIGHT # 21
© IPCO Germany GmbH