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Materials & Assembly
Cellulose Could Replace Short Glass Fibers in Composites
10/15/2012

A new thermoplastic composite uses engineered cellulose fiber from trees, such as these logs in Kuopio, Finland, instead of the short glass fibers usually used for reinforcement. Applications include automotive parts and industrial components.   (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Okko Pyykko)
A new thermoplastic composite uses engineered cellulose fiber from trees, such as these logs in Kuopio, Finland, instead of the short glass fibers usually used for reinforcement. Applications include automotive parts and industrial components.
(Source: Wikimedia Commons/Okko Pyykkö)

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Rob Spiegel
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Re: Water absorbtion
Rob Spiegel   10/15/2012 11:50:41 PM
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Nice article, Ann. This sounds positive all the way around. With cycle times 40 percent shorter, there are probably some cost savings. Does the material itself also offer some cost savings.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Water absorbtion
Ann R. Thryft   10/15/2012 1:56:11 PM
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TJ, since this is a composite, the fibers are surrounded by a polymer matrix (polypropylene at this point in time), so I doubt if water absorption is a problem.

TJ McDermott
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Water absorbtion
TJ McDermott   10/15/2012 1:01:14 PM
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What happens to these composites in the presence of water?  Glas fibers do not absorb water; is that a problem with this new material?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Flammability
Ann R. Thryft   10/15/2012 11:55:13 AM
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tekochip, that's a good point about flammability. The fact that Ford is working with Weyerhaeuser to develop materials for car interiors, plus the fact that these are engineered, not just natural, fibers, makes me think that potential problem may have already been addressed/compensated for. Here's a link to the MSDS for THRIVE, which gives a rating of 1 (0-4 scale): www.weyerhaeuser.com/pdfs/msds/501.pdf

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Additional applications
Ann R. Thryft   10/15/2012 11:54:13 AM
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Tim, no info on fiber cost was given, but considering Weyerhauser's main business--wood pulp--I'd guess it's likely to be less than glass. Re "use in nylon applications," what exactly do you mean?



notarboca
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Fascinating Material
notarboca   10/15/2012 11:39:08 AM
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Hmm, 40% shorter mold times, comparable weight and material properties, less tooling damage during manufacturing, and blendability with a variety of plastic base material.  What's not to like about the new THRIVE?

I agree with the flammability issue and the possible overharvesting of dwindling resources.  Still, it seems to be a good idea.

naperlou
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Local materials
naperlou   10/15/2012 9:30:55 AM
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Ann, ne thing I like about this product is that it is produced by materials we have naturally here in the US.  With materials such as coconut, grow in a fairly narrow band of the planet.  This tends to cause overharvesting in areas with low environmental controls. 

tekochip
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Flammability
tekochip   10/15/2012 8:05:16 AM
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One attribute not mentioned in the article is flammability, which is something cellulose products have always had an issue with.


Tim
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Additional applications
Tim   10/15/2012 7:39:33 AM
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Ann, this looks like a great use of material.  Glass fibers do tend to eat machinery and molds in normal application, so a less abrasive fiber would be great.  Has there been any look at using these fibers in nylon applications?  Also, is the cost of the additive similar to that of the glass fibers?

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