Enhanced infrared heating of thermoplastic composite sheets for thermoforming processes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Thermoforming of thermoplastic composites attracts increasing attention in the community due to the mechanical performance of these materials and their recyclability. Yet there are still difficulties concerning the uniformity of the heating and overheating of parts prior to forming. The need for higher energy efficiencies opens new opportunities for research in this field. This is why this study presents a novel experimental method to classify the efficiency of infrared heaters in combination with different thermoplastic composite materials. In order to evaluate this, different organic sheets are heated in a laboratory scale heating station until a steady state condition is reached. This station mimics the heating stage of an industrial composite thermoforming device and allows sheets to slide on top of the pre-heated radiator at a known distance. By applying thermodynamic balances, the efficiency of chosen parameters and setups is tested. The tests show that long heating times are required and the efficiency of the heating is low. Furthermore, the efficiency is strongly dependent on the distance of the heater to the sheet, the heater temperature and also the number of heating elements. Yet, using a full reflector system proves to have a huge effect and the heating time can be decreased by almost 50 %.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-43
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Polymer Processing
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

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