In recent decades, there has been increasing interest in the use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the aerospace, renewable energy, and automotive industries, due to higher strength to weight ratios compared with traditional metals. With respect to the automotive market, about 1500 unique vehicle models are in production today, and a little over 100 of them use some amount of CFRP as a component in standard equipment. By 2025, the CFRP market is expected to grow 20% for automotive applications. A key bottle-neck for CFRP growth is pricing due to several expensive processing steps and materials, including expensive UV coatings followed by a clear coat.
This paper describes a novel one-step method of forming stacked CFRP in which thermoplastic polyurethane films (TPU), especially Estane® paint protection films (PPF), are applied and/or impregnated to impart properties such as weathering, scratch and abrasion resistance, improved aesthetics, waterproofing, and enhanced tensile & impact resistance. This technique can eliminate secondary and tertiary steps of UV and clear coating. This procedure also includes laminating TPU films over unidirectional CF laminates to eliminate line defects, eliminate putting and sanding steps. These unidirectional CF panels can be laminated with colored TPU films to offer varying colors on carbon composites and embedding printed logos into the composite. This new method has been patented and several OEMs have viewed this as ‘disruptive’ and predict positive impacts on CFRP market growth in automotive applications.
Dr. Sat Nistala is Technical Service Manager for Lubrizol Engineered Polymers, Lubrizol Corporation, Berkshire Hathaway company located at Brecksville, Ohio. Prior to joining Lubrizol in 2011, he held technical leadership roles with Baker Petrolite (Baker Hughes) Bekaert Specialty Films (now Saint Gobain), and Avery Dennison. Sat holds a Ph.D. in Polymer Science followed by Postdoc work at University of Ottawa, Canada and Stanford Research International, Menlo Park. Sat was also awarded an International Science and Technology fellowship to work at National Institute of Material Science, Tsukuba, Japan. Dr. Nistala holds three patents, over 25 scientific publications and several invention disclosures.
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