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Process for producing lightweight thermoplastic composite products in a continuous manner

Image Number 3 for United States Patent #7879174.

A process for producing lightweight thermoplastic composite products in a continuous manner is disclosed. An oven is provided for heating a dry unconsolidated fabric sheet of commingled fibers of thermoplastic and re-enforcing fibers or carbon fibers to a temperature sufficient to ensure melting and flow of the resin in the voids of the commingled fibers. The unconsolidated composite sheet is conveyed through the oven and then through a first pair of heated rollers at an outlet of the oven whereby to maintain the fabric sheet heated to prevent abrupt cooling at the surfaces while compressing it under pressure. A further pair of rollers at a further reduced temperature is provided whereby the heated sheet is gradually lowered in temperature and the pressure is maintained thereon during consolidation of the commingled fibers to ensure complete flow of the resin in the voids between the reinforcing fibers. The continuous composite consolidated sheet can then be processed to sheet form, or laminated in a sandwich, or profiled whereby to form a desired product.

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