Unique Patented Processes

The “DRIFT” Process

(Direct Re-Inforced Fiber Technology)

The continuous fiber/resin process introduces significantly higher fiber/resin matrix bond integrity by fully saturating the fiber surface wet out area creating virtually 100% bonding surface area to the resin. Heating the incoming fiber to a very high temperature increases the surface energy, fully dries the fiber and creates high adhesion to the thermoplastic resin. The resin is also in a molten high temperature in wetting out the fiber as it flows from the extruder . The fiber is pulled through sizing dies where the fibers are then combined to form a strong matrix tape after controlled cooling that can be formed and fabricated in many product applications and manufacturing processes

 

The foundation of the technology is based on 3 licensed technologies (pat #'s 5,911,932; 6,524,690; and 6,656,316)  with Great Lakes Composites the sole manufacturer/supplier offering high value add material incorporated into present and emerging product markets with superior physical and rheological properties. The competing processes involve thermoplastic film infusion into fiber, powder on fiber or co-mingled glass and thermoplastic fiber. Each of these systems can are viable solutions however their performance has limitations/drawbacks. Thermoplastic fiber reinforced composites (TFRP’s) evolved from thermoset fiber reinforced polymer composites which have properties acceptable to a smaller range of applications. They have chemical instability characteristics, due to the impregnated intermediate or prepreg having a limited shelf life.  TFRP’s do not suffer from this problem as they use a thermoplastic matrix with higher long life stability. When heated they soften and can be remolded without degradation. When they cool, they solidify into the finished shape without the complexities of catalyst requirements. This heating/cooling cycle can be repeated several times giving the product an almost infinite shelf life. They can be shaped using low cost techniques derived from wood and metal based casting/mold forms and are easier to work with in final machining processes.  TFRP’s have increased damage tolerance in fatigue, impact and fracture initiation/propagation due to the tough nature of the matrix material. They also lend themselves to recycling, unlike thermoset composites.  Due to even lighter weight advantages, high stiffness/strength to mass ratios and compatibility using a wider range of existing manufacturing methods, their product applications are diverse and growing at a high rate in the automotive, aerospace, construction and consumer industries. Additionally TFRP offers premium characteristics identified in the following;

 

- High strength/stiffness to mass ratios

- Elimination of micro-flaws/voids

- Maximum adhesion between fiber/resin

- Elimination of fiber damage/abrasion

- Excellent load transfer maximizing fiber strength

- Good inter-laminar shear properties

- Wide range of FRP product applications

- Flexibility as an optimally engineered FRP

- Wide range of fiber and resin formulations

- Corrosion and fatigue resistance

- Next generation for lightweight solutions

- Potential in addressing global energy/environment initiatives