In the wake of continuing search for
reliable, lighter and cost-effective components by industries, markets and
users, engineers apply compression moulding of composites to substitute
metal components. Compression moulding presses are capable of producing
voluminous amount of fiber-reinforced plastic parts in significant volumes,
with speed and accuracy. Moreover, composites produce components with
thinner walls than their metal counterparts. This weight and cost reductions
has promoted the development of long-fiber-reinforced thermoplastics (LFRT)
and sheet molding compounds (SMC) as well as bulk molding compounds (BMC).
When composites began to replace automotive metals, the new materials were
typically adopted into a part design previously optimized for steel. The
resulting parts were over-built in terms of performance properties, but
reaped immediate benefits in weight reductions. As development programs
progressed, however, parts were optimized for the new materials. Engineers
redesigned them to minimize weight within the scope of the part's specified
With the advent of LFRT and more reinforcement-intensive thermoset
compounds, industries see opportunity to further adjust wall thickness and
other part dimensions, not only in composites-for-metal changeovers but in
existing composite designs as well. The longer fibers as much as double the
impact strength and flexural modulus of comparable short-fiber compounds.
In thermoset applications, similar results are being achieved with greater
percentages of fiber loading and the use of high-performance fibers.
High-performance fibers and high loading add strength and rigidity to