Structural Parts

Glass fibres for stronger & lighter structural parts

Structural applications are and will increasingly be benefitting from the use of continuous fibre composites whose high specific performances enable advantageous replacement of traditional materials. 3B has indeed been the pioneer in developing and supplying glass fibres for the first in-line pultrusion process that has supplied several millions of well recognized glass fibre composites leafsprings that display an 80% reduced weight than the ones made of steel.

Production of medium and large automotive series require competitive costs and shorter cycle times. As a consequence, with its clear strategy of creating value for all participants in Automotive value chain, 3B has decided to focus its glass fibre development expertise on some of the technologies that are in the near future foreseen to be suitable to address this challenge of low costs productions of medium and large series of light structural parts.

Innovative glass fibre solutions for RTM technologies

As the favorite technology to produce medium sized and complex geometry components, RTM (Resin Transfer Molding) calls for a decrease in cycle time that is mainly influenced by the part’s consolidation phase while being molded. 
In close cooperation with its resin producer partners, 3B offers and is developing continuous fibres suitable for the new and next generation of so-called snap-cure resin systems – curing time within the minute range – that enable an extremely fast curing of the parts while achieving the highest quality resin-glass interphase thanks to in-house 3B glass sizing technologies.

Being an expert in thermoplastics sizing technologies, 3B also supports development of high performing glass fibre tailored to T-RTM (Thermoplastic – RTM). One of the last public examples is the launch in 2013 of the first continuous high performance glass fibre suitable for acrylic resins T-RTM.

Innovative glass fibre solutions for Hybridization technologies

3B does not underestimate the trends of parts’ hybridization that current thermoplastic injection or compression molding technologies will benefit in the long run to produce optimized automobile medium sized and medium geometric complexity components. Concept of hybridization – composite of a composite – translates into manufacturing of parts where some low stressed areas can be fitted solely with short or long fibre reinforced polymers whereas heavy stressed areas are reinforced by continuous fibre materials along the load paths. In this very promising context, 3B has already designed a full range of thermoplastics compatible continuous fibres that cope with the very specific needs of thermoplastic tapes and organosheet technologies (see below table).

Innovative glass fibre solution for Filament Winding and Pultrusion technologies

Fibre winding and Pultrusion are suitable also for large symmetric parts such as tanks and beams that are widely used in the transportation industry. These already heavily automated technologies require easy processable and high mechanical performance fibres when designers of the final components wish to exhibit the highest possible mechanical performances a glass composite can display. This has guided the recent developments of glass fibres that allowed 3B to take the lead in the leafsprings and high pressure tanks markets, achieving higher performances than steel and aluminum solutions (see below table).

Summary of mechanical properties per material

  Synthesis
Specific Stiffness % in weight of material Properties E (MPa) ρ (kg/m3) E specific (x 106 m)
Short Fibre Thermoplactic 20% Standard glass Isotropic 4.800 1.040 0,47
  30% Standard glass Isotropic 6.700 1.270 0,54
  35% Standard glass Isotropic 8.200 1.350 0,62
  50% Standard glass Isotropic 11.500 1.580 0,74
  60% Standard glass Isotropic 13.500 1.690 0,81
Long Fibre Thermoplastic 20% Standard glass Isotropic 5.300 1.040 0,52
  30% Standard glass Isotropic 7.400 1.235 0,61
  35% Standard glass Isotropic 9.700 1.400 0,71
  50% Standard glass Isotropic 13.250 1.565 0,86
  60% Standard glass Isotropic 17.750 1.700 1,06
Continous Fibre Thermoplastic 65% Standard glass Unidirectional 2.000 1.600 1,76
  70% Standard glass Unidirectional 33.000 1.600 2,10
Continuous Fibre Thermoset 80% Standard glass Unidirectional 46.000 1.900 2,47
Aluminum 100% Aluminium Isotropic 72.000 2.700 2,72
Ultra High Strength Steel 100% Steel Isotropic 210.000 7.800 2,74
Standard High Strength Steel 100% Steel Isotropic 210.000 7.800 2,74
Continuous Fibre Thermoset 80% 3B’s High Performance glass Unidirectional 53.000 1.900 2,84
  Synthesis
Specific Strength % in weight of material Properties s (MPa) ρ (kg/m3) s specific (x 103 m)
Short Fibre Thermoplactic 20% Standard glass Isotropic 75 1.040 7,4
Standard High Strength Steel 100% SHS Steel Isotropic 600 7.800 7,8
Short Fibre Thermoplastic 30% Standard glass Isotropic 110 1.270 8,8
  35% Standard glass Isotropic 120 1.350 9,1
  50% Standard glass Isotropic 160 1.580 10,3
  60% Standard glass Isotropic 175 1.690 10,6
Long Fibre Thermoplastic 20% Standard glass Isotropic 105 1.040 10,3
  30% Standard glass Isotropic 130 1.235 10,7
  40% Standard glass Isotropic 165 1.400 12,0
  50% Standard glass Isotropic 195 1.565 12,7
  60% Standard glass Isotropic 215 1.700 12,9
Ultra High Strength Steel 100% Steel Isotropic 1.400 7.800 18,3
Aluminum 100% Aluminium Isotropic 600 2.700 22,7
Continuous Fibre Thermoplastic 65% Standard glass Unidirectional 800 1.600 51,0
  80% Standard glass Unidirectional 1.120 1.900 60,1
  70% Standard glass Unidirectional 990 1.600 63,1
Continuous Fibre Thermoset 80% 3B’s High Performance glass Unidirectional 1.420 1.900 76,2