BTU researchers develop high-performance plastics

There is a growing demand for ultra-light and high-strength plastics in the industry. Scientists at Campus Senftenberg are working on three projects to develop pioneering technologies

The amount of plastic components in motor vehicles, trains and planes is growing. Plastics can be used as a construction material to reduce the weight of vehicles, helping to save energy and fuel. There’s a growing demand for high-performance materials with new properties. Scientists are currently working alongside Prof. Dr.-Ing. Matthias Ziegenhorn from the Chair of Engineering Mechanics and Machine Dynamics and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralph Schacht from the Chair of Electronic Circuit Technology to develop technologies that allow the production of materials with high strength, conductivity and lightness.

Polyester fibres are refined in innovative processes to enable plastic functionalisation

BTU scientists are collaborating with industrial partners on the »Graphene Electrical Fibres« project to develop new materials from polyester fibres, which are combined with nanoparticles like graphene to create new properties. This makes it possible to produce materials that are extremely strong, conductive and light. Using them for road, rail and air travel could help to reduce weight and save fuel. The project partners are TREVIRA GmbH Guben, a manufacturer of textile polyester products, and AERTEC Solutions GmbH, a manufacturer of aviation technology.

Precisely designed high-performance plastics could replace metal components

The team of researchers, led by Prof. Ziegenhorn, are currently investigating high-performance plastics that are thermally-stable and difficult to melt. The BTU is working alongside the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP) on a »3D High-Performance Composites« project to develop durable high-performance plastics for 3D-printing and a new tool to flexibly calculate expected material properties. The project partners are working together to investigate thermosetting plastics which maintain their dimensional stability when subjected to changes in temperature. Thermosetting components are less dense, more thermally-stable and usually reduce costs, which means they might replace metals used near heat sources, such as in vehicle engine compartments. BTU scientists can now use their calculation tool to predict mechanical properties with mathematical and physical accuracy depending on production parameters. This will enable the systematic application of these materials and the development of optimal printing processes, helping to meet the requirements of Industry 4.0.

Contactless temperature measurements predict the service-life of safety-relevant vehicle components

Prof. Ziegenhorn and his team are working alongside InfraTec GmbH on the »THEMECS Sensor« project to develop a process to simultaneously measure the temperature and displacement of components. Mechanical stress causes temperature changes in components like brakes and tyres. An infra-red camera can be used to identify patterns on the surface of components, revealing their changes in temperature and shape. The aim of this work is to practically verify the service-life of materials. The project partners are InfraTec GmbH, a manufacturer of thermal imaging cameras, and ZwickRoell GmbH & Co. KG, a manufacturer of testing machines.

All three projects have received funding of 1.6 million EUR and are being backed by the European Regional Development Fund, the Brandenburg Investment Bank, and the Central Innovation Programme for SMEs (ZIM). The projects will run for a period of three years.