AZL Aachen Project Integrates Flax Fiber Reinforcement with a PA11 Resin Matrix

June 29 2020

AZL Aachen GmbH (Aachen, Germany) reported development and implementation of its present project, a process chain for the production of quasi-continuous, bio-based tapes. Operated at the Institut fur Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University (ITA, Aachen, Germany), the project involved three institutional partners, including Sofila, Em-Systeme (Oberhausen, Germany), Safilin (Hauts-de-France) and a laboratory-scale tape production facility.

AZL says the 100% bio-based thermoplastic tapes — like conventional tapes made of glass or carbon fiber — can be processed on tape-laying machines or tape-weaving machines. The untwisted, parallel alignment of the flax fibers reportedly enables full exploitation of fiber properties, including high-quality application in automotive parts or wind turbine blades.

AZL notes that its project partner, Sofila, textured the PA11 fibers and processed them into staple fibers. In cooperation with the ITA, Safilin processed the flax and PA11 fibers into a hybrid sliver, which was then drawn and consolidated into a tape using ultrasonic welding. Specifically developed for the hybrid sliver, the ultrasonic module — developed by project partner, Em-Systeme — converts the energy of the sonotrode’s mechanical vibration into internal friction and interfacial friction, which reportedly leads to the heating and melting of the thermoplastic PA11 fibers. The drawn and parallel flax fibers were then impregnated with the melted thermoplastic. According to AZL, this procedure offers an efficient, local energy input.

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