Long-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic (LFRTs) is a type of easily mouldable thermoplastic used to create a variety of components used primarily in the automotive industry. LFRTs are one of the fastest growing categories in thermoplastic technologies. Leading this expansion is one of the oldest forms, glass mat thermoplastic (GMT) and two of the segment’s newest: precompounded (pelletized) LFRTs (long-fiber-reinforced thermoplastics), also known as LFTs, and inline compounded or direct LFTs (D-LFTs).
LFRTs differ from the composite structures used in the aerospace industry for components such as aircraft parts. The fibers in LFRTs are relatively short (6.35 mm/0.25 in. or greater) compared to the fibres contained in composite aircraft components. High performance composites usually contain fibers as long as the component itself (6 metres or longer).
Their structural properties and low cost per part have enabled LFRTs to replace metal parts in the automotive industry. In addition, some new organic fibers can even be recyclable. With the independence of choosing the reinforcement from a wide range of fibers and the matrix from a wide range of thermoplastics polymer in the LFRTs, its property can be changed according to customer needs. LFRTs have become an increasingly valuable and popular part of building envelope components such as windows and doors.
Currently, long glass fiber reinforced thermoplastics, classified by process, include the following three main types.
(1) GMT (Glass Mat Reinforced Thermoplastics), where the semi-finished products are sheets, made by laminating glass fiber mats and thermoplastics (films); the final products are molded by compression molding. Here is a mention of another type of molding compound that is easily confused - BMC (Bulk Molding Compounds) and SMC (Sheet Molding Compounds), both of which are mainly for thermosetting plastics, where BMC is short glass fiber and SMC is long glass fiber (fiber length is generally 20 to 50 mm).
(2) LFT-D (Long Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastics Direct, Long Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastics - Direct Molding Method), no semi-finished products; continuous fiber and plastic are mixed and matched by twin screws, extruded into sheets, quantitatively cut, insulated and conveyed, and finally molded directly; there are also some LFT-D processes that can achieve Direct injection molding.
(3) LFT-G (Long Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastics Granules), semi-finished products are plastic granules of 10 to 25 mm in length, made by continuous fiber impregnation of the plastic melt, pultrusion, and granulation; the final product is molded (granules of about 25 mm in length) and injection molded (granules of about 10 mm in length), with injection molding being the main direction.
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