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Polymer and fiber research laboratories include composites, polymer processing including injection molding, fiber extrusion, nonwovens and other engineered fibrous structures, polymers, analytical testing, coloration and finishing. The laboratories are used for student labs and available to industry for contract testing and joint research projects.
Polymer and fiber engineering's effort in composites emphasizes fibrous structures for reinforcement of polymer composites. Several braiding machines, resin transfer molding machine, chop gun, infrared curing, vacuum bagging, and other equipment are available. Polishing and imaging equipment are available for analysis of composite morphology to verify computer predictions of performance.
Machinery for extrusion, compression molding and injection molding to produce a variety of fibers, films, polymeric parts and composites.
Wabash Compression molding machine, 30 ton for production of polymeric and composites parts
Three injection molding machines are available in a newly established lab for the polymer engineering program. The Battenfeld EM 50/300 electric injection molding machine is new with water and oil temperature controller. It is a computer controlled machine with 30 mm screw diameter, 13 mm nozzle radius and 56 tons capacity. The other two injection molding machines (Fu Chin Shin KT-75G) were donated by ThermoFisher Scientific of Auburn, AL. A new oven is purchased for cleaning the molds.
Research scale equipment is available for all types of melt extrusion and solution spinning of fibers. A complete manufacturing line consists of melt extrusion equipment for thermoplastic polymers with draw winding. Two lab scale solution spinning lines are available, one capable of producing fibers from very small (less than one gram) amounts of polymer.
A new film/monofilament/multifilament heavy duty floor model production extrusion machine has been ordered (Wayne "Yellow Jacket", 25 mm screw diameter, vented)
Research is currently funded for formation of fibers from renewable resources.
A complete laboratory for creating batts and webs for nonwoven fabric formation includes a Rando Model "C" for air laid webs, a roller top card and cross lapper, a through-air oven for thermal bonding, needle punching equipment, a heated calendar, and thermal conductivity measurement capability. The lab is well suited to handling special fibers such as carbon and ceramic and was recently funded by DOD to design carbon fiber blends for specific radar absorption properties.
High Performance Fibrous Materials Lab
Analytical and Testing Capabilities
A full array of analytical testing facilities for polymers and fibers complements the engineering facilities. Key equipment includes
For fiber testing
Coloration and Finishing Laboratory
Machinery for braiding and weaving contribute to the design and formation of fabrics for reinforcing composites and other industrial applications.