By: Laurie N. Jacques:

I don’t know but I’ve been told,
Try nano-composites and you’ll be sold.

I’m sold on nano-composites after attending the National Composite Center’s Nano-Composite Bootcamp last week. Dr. Phillip S. Wilson, President of Inspired Innovations, LLC, outlined the many benefits of nano-composites that use nano-fillers such as nano-platelets instead of conventional fillers and reinforcements.

Thermoplastic composites using nano-platelets have both high modulus and high impact resistance, a combination not achievable in conventional composites, with a smaller increase in resin specific gravity than conventional fillers. They also may offer enhanced isotropic performance; decreased thermal expansion, permeability, and flame spread; transparency; and UV resistance. Dr. Wilson predicts that nano-olefins will supplant engineering thermoplastics in many if not most current uses (except those requiring the higher temperature performance of engineering resins), although nano-filled engineering resins may move up to replace non-polymeric materials such as glass or metal in some applications. In addition, nano-platelets other than carbon/graphite can be produced in situ after larger clay particles have been combined with the resin or monomer, which eases handling and limits personnel exposure to nano-particles.

Thermosetting composites using nano-platelets have increased flexural modulus, which allows reduction of the wall thickness of molded parts without loss of stiffness. This results in material, energy, and process time savings during manufacturing as well as lower article weights, which in term results in packaging, shipping, and handling cost savings. In addition to property enhancements similar to those for thermoplastics, lower viscosity, improved surface finish, and reduced sagging of spray coatings have been noted.

The next Nano-Composite Bootcamp session is scheduled for October 4, 2007.