The Rise of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics

The use of carbon fibers in plastic materials has a long history.  As early as 1879, Thomas Edison was experimenting with carbon fibers made from cotton threads and bamboo slivers.  In fact, the first incandescent light bulb heated by electricity contained carbon fibers.  In the 1960’s, Dr. Akio Shindo at the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology in Japan developed a carbon fiber based on polyacrylonitrile (PAN).  The resulting fiber contained 55% carbon. Read more

What is ASTM International?

Have you ever been reading a material data sheet and wondered what ASTM means?  Well, you’re not alone.  “ASTM” followed by numbers or letters is used on data sheets to indicate the test used to develop the data.   These tests are standardized so that they can be reproduced by labs around the world.  Here’s a brief rundown on ASTM International’s history and operations. 
ASTM is an international standards and testing organization with headquarters in West Conshohocken,Read more

How Do Engineers Evaluate Plastic Materials and Material Strength?

When evaluating a material for use in a particular application, engineers usually look first at the material properties data sheet or material data sheet for short.  These are available on-line for most plastic materials.  This sheet will give typical values for a variety of properties. Usually it will include values for physical properties and mechanical properties as well as thermal and electrical properties. Typically, the material properties data sheet will include what ASTM,Read more

A Closer Look at Glass Fibers in Reinforced Plastic

As we discussed in our last post, reinforcing fibers are added to plastic resins to increase the tensile strength and flexural modulus of the composite as well as the heat deflection temperature of the plastic.  In this blog post, we will take a closer look at glass fibers.
Glass fibers are used as a reinforcing agent for many plastic composites.  Called GRP’s or glass reinforced plastics, these materials are made up of many fine fibers of glass combined with a plastic matrix.Read more

A Special Highlight on Basalt and Aramid Fiber Reinforced Plastic

Fiber reinforced plastic is a mixture of reinforcing fillers and plastic resins called matrixes.  This technique increases the tensile strength and flexural modulus of the composite.  These fillers also increase the heat deflection temperature of a material as well as cause it to resist shrinkage and warping. The extent to which these attributes are enhanced depends on the mechanical properties of the fiber and the matrix, their volume relative to each other and the length and orientation of the fiber within the matrix. Read more