During a workshop on “Natural Fibres for Filled Composites and Components” in Halle (D) on November 18, 2004, the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials (IWM) in Halle signed a cooperation agreement with Berstorff, Hanover and Krauss-Maffei, Munich. The project with a budget of EUR 1.1 million will run for four years.
IWM project manager, Dr. Michael Busch, explained that the cooperation partners will conduct intensive research into natural fibres and polymers. He pointed out that natural fibre composites were already being used successfully in the USA for decking and garden fences. With many properties similar to natural wood, these composites are lighter, stronger, cheaper – and also resistant to the weather and weathering.
The main aim of the project is to build a comprehensive database of information about natural fibre processing and natural-fibre composites. With development cycles becoming shorter and pressure on prices increasing, there is a serious need for well-researched data on materials and technology, said IWM director, Prof. Peter Gumbsch. The researchers in Halle will be experimenting with composites made up of thermoplastic reinforced with long glassfibre and cellulose roving. Another objective is to study natural fibre composites based on staple fibres, and natural fibre types and compounds that can be metered. Cooperation partner Krauss-Maffei supplied a KM1300-14000 IMC injection moulding compounder for the necessary machine trials.
The development of application-specific materials is one of the main research fields of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials in Halle. The results of this new research project are intended to reduce time to market for new materials and processes and be transferable to mass production, explained Prof. Gumbsch. At the festive contract-signing ceremony, the Minister for Economic Affairs of Saxony-Anhalt, Dr. Horst Rehberger, praised the cooperation as a milestone in research and development in Germany that is highly relevant to industry needs and consumer benefits.
Source: Krauss-Maffei press release, Jan 14, 2005.