Current applications of carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP) can be found mostly in sectors where their use is not principally cost-driven and which have limited production volumes, such as aerospace and sports cars. In order to achieve a step-change in the application of high-performance composites in larger-volume applications, new materials systems are needed that combine very short production cycle times with performance that meets automotive requirements. The EU-FP7-project HIVOCOMP is developing two material systems that show unique promise for cost effective, higher-volume production of high performance carbon fibre reinforced parts. These materials systems are:
· Advanced polyurethane (PU) thermoset matrix materials offering a combination of improved mechanical performance and reduced cycle times in comparison with conventional matrix systems,
· Thermoplastic PP- and PA6-based self-reinforced polymer composites incorporating continuous carbon fibre reinforcements offering increased toughness and reduced cycle times in comparison to current
thermoplastic and thermoset solutions.
In this introduction, the global concept of the HIVOCOMP-project is presented, and an overview is given of the achievements during the first three project years. Emphasis is then be put on the demonstrators (see figure) and how they show the advantages of both innovative material concepts, both in processing (reduced cycle times) and in properties (increased toughness). Finally, the environmental impact of these new material concepts is evaluated by reporting on the results of the LCA (life cycle assessment) and LCC (life cycle costing) studies.