Conventional composite manufacturing processes are limited to a single type of polymer matrix material, which considerably restricts the design of complex or multifunctional components. Such components are currently moulded separately and assembled via costly adhesive bonding processes, which are known to be sensitive to surface contamination.
The incorporation of thermoset and thermoplastic polymers in a single composite part would offer many advantages such as the combination of high strength and high toughness materials. This can also provide additional surface functionality, which is currently not possible with traditional thermosets.
A novel resin injection technology using in-situ chemical reactions has been developed at The University of Queensland. This process has the ability to produce hybrid thermoplastic/thermoset composites in a single step within less than 10 minutes. The process is compatible with a variety of fibre and matrix materials and can be performed as a closed mould or vacuum bag process. These innovative features open-up new and unique opportunities for the cost-effective manufacture of complex hybrid composite products in automotive, marine and aerospace industries.