University of Colorado Boulder Background
Fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) consist of long continuous fibers, arranged in parallel or in interwoven mats, which are embedded in a polymer matrix. Most existing FRPs are based on thermoset polymers (e.g., epoxy) consisting of polymer chains crosslinked by irreversible covalent bonds. These thermoset FRPs exhibit outstanding thermal stability and mechanical strength and have become an important structural material for aircrafts and wind turbines. However, the fabrication process of thermoset FRPs is expensive and time-consuming, which poses a significant barrier limiting the application of thermoset FRPs in industrial sectors where high volume production is essential.
Researchers at the University of Colorado have developed a rapid fabrication method for fiber reinforced polymer composites based on heat pressing woven carbon fibers and vitrimer powder. Vitrimer consists of a covalently crosslinked network endowed with dynamic covalent bonds, which can be thermally activated to undergo bond exchange reactions, thus enabling the rearrangement of network topology without impairing its integrity. These bond exchange reactions lead to bulk stress relaxation and interface healing at the macroscopic scale, thereby allowing the vitrimer powder to fuse into a matrix embedded with the carbon fibers through a heat press process.
Link to published article
Stage of Development
Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5.
Reprocesseable through thermoforming
Short production time (As low as 1 minute)
High volume manufacturing
Fiber reinforce composites