Prodrive, a motorsport and advanced technology company, is working with lightweighting and materials researchers at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to advance its processes for manufacturing recyclable composite components that extend useful lifetimes and reduce tooling costs.

The collaboration on the P2T (Primary to Tertiary) project will lead to manufacturing recyclable composite components that can satisfy end-of-life requirements without any compromise in the performance of the original parts. The process uses a reactive thermoplastic resin instead of a thermosetting type. A plastic monomer reacts with a catalyst in the presence of the fibers to produce a cured laminate. Since P2T composites do not require heat or pressure during manufacture and there is no need for an autoclave, the cost of scaling up production is reduced. Cost savings are also realized in reduced tooling costs and shorter lead time compared to existing metallic or composite solutions.

The advantages of composites produced by the P2T process is that they can be recycled multiple times. At the initial part’s end-of-life, the fibers, and potentially the resin, can be recycled, supplying raw material for a secondary part, such as a body panel. When the secondary thermoplastics part reaches the end of its life, it can also be chopped and remolded into new parts with properties suitable for 3D solid components. This tertiary part can itself be recycled several times into lower grade parts.