Submitted to: International Fibers Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2003
Publication Date: 2/1/2003
Citation: Mueller, D.H., Krobjilowski, A., Parikh, D.V. 2003. Car interiors of reinforced composites: a comparison between natural and glass fiber composites. International Fibers Journal. 38-40. Interpretive Summary: Replacement of thermal-bonded glass/polypropylene (PP) composites by those of natural plant fibers (kenaf, flax, and hemp) with PP for car interiors has been studied. Besides biodegradability and ecological considerations, there are several additional advantages of replacing glass fibers by plant fibers: (1) Fiber density of the plant fibers is around 1.5 vs. 2.54 of glass fibers. Thus, the plant fibers offer high potential for an outstanding reinforcement in lightweight economical structures. (2) Automotive parts with natural fibers are safer than those with glass fiber as no sharp-edged fracture surfaces occur in case of a crash. (3) Natural fibers do not cause allergenic or skin irritation reactions. The study determined the optimal temperature range required for producing the thermal compression molded interiors with high mechanical strength made with natural fibers. Optimum temperature range for such molding was found to be in the range of 220 to 230 degrees C. This study encourages the use of natural fibers in thermal bonded automotive interiors. The work is beneficial to auto manufacturers, to farmers and to consumers.
Technical Abstract: The investigations detected a strong influence of the thermal process characteristics suring compressin molding on the properties of natural fiber reinforced composites. The highest mechanical data was found at processing 220 to 230 degrees C. Higher and lower temperature values resulted in declined mechanical data. Furthermore, it could be proved that emission characteristics are strongly influenced by the process parameters. These results confirm the importance of well-adjusted process specifications matching with the requirements of the natural fiber basing material.