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Continuous fiber combined with a thermoplastic matrix such as nylon makes for an extremely stiff, damage tolerant and lightweight structural composite part. A comparable part in machined aluminum would weigh 40-50% more. In addition to the high strength to weight ratio, they also have very good electrical conductivity and extremely low coefficients of thermal expansion. This simplifies tolerance issues for devices such as optical benches that would be affected by movement of a cover, it also simplifies many thermal management problems. Ballistic grade materials can be molded such as Kevlar and Spectra Fiber.


The continuous fiber thermoplastic composites are made through a melt and compression molding process, contrasting with conventional thermoset composites that rely on solvent-based chemistry and complicated cure schedules. Many of these materials can be molded in low cost aluminum molds; some higher temperature materials may require steel. Thermoplastics are extremely fast when compared to thermosets, averaging three minutes per part.


Rapid Composites has pioneered new methods allowing pre-consolidated materials to be rapidly heated, then shuttled to a mold and hot stamped in under 45 seconds to the net shape of a part. This is presently the fastest continuous fiber molding process in the world.