Introduction to fiber reinforced plastics and thermoplastic composites

29 October 2021
Hotel Scandic Sydhavnen
Sydhavns Plads 15
2450 Copenhagen

Reinforcing polymers with fillers has been considered from the early days of polymer engineering, and has led to the emergence of a wide variety of fiber-reinforced materials. By far the most significant category, in terms of industrial relevance and production volumes, are plastics reinforced with “short” fibers in the microscopic range. Yet, recently, a new category has emerged that extends the span of reinforcing fibers into the macroscopic scale: so-called thermoplastic composites.

The term composite historically refers to a combination of a thermosetting matrix, for instance an epoxy, with a continuous fiber reinforcement, oftentimes a woven fabric. These materials, even though they offer outstanding performance, are also associated with tedious processing, relatively low productivity, high manufacturing cost, health and safety concerns and lack of recyclability. A recent addition to the toolbox of fiber-reinforced materials, however, addresses those key challenges by reverting to conventional thermoplastics as the matrix materials. Thermoplastic composites are indeed capable of offering the best of both worlds: the highest possible level of reinforcement due to the use of endless fibers, along with the short cycle-time processing, inherent recyclability and hybridization potential offered by a thermoplastic matrix. This allows them to compete with incumbents such as metals, and their combination with other types of reinforced plastics results in lighter, better performing and more durable parts. Their use is therefore expected to grow significantly over the coming years in applications from automotive over consumer goods and electronics to oil and gas and aviation.

Yet, these new materials come in a wide variety of product forms and with an even higher range of associated processing methods. Furthermore, they lend themselves to combinations with other types of fiber reinforced plastics. This versatility leaves the engineer with a vast spectrum of materials and design options; it is the purpose of this seminar to reduce that inherent complexity by providing participants with both the theoretical background and highly practical guidelines as to how thermoplastic composites as well as the broader family of reinforced plastics behave, can be used, and should be combined for performance and cost-effectiveness.

Seminar’s scope
This seminar will build on the principles of classical fiber reinforcement theory – highlighting the key roles of fiber type, length and interfacial interaction – to introduce thermoplastic composites as a new class of materials with remarkable performance. It will address the various semi-finished product forms available on the market, will emphasize the influence of reinforcement architecture on the material properties, and will introduce the design, processing and recycling possibilities brought along by this class of materials. A strong focus will be put on the hybridization possibilities between thermoplastic composites and more conventional reinforced plastics, such as the overmolding of composite inserts with short fiber compounds, thus offering insights into options for a cost-effective use of these materials. The introduced principles will be supported by application examples and use cases across industries.

Seminar content
The seminar will start by shedding light on how fibers reinforce plastics in general, before introducing continuous fiber reinforced plastics and elaborating on their relative performance vs. other materials. It will then provide an overview of the different product forms available, on their associated processing solutions, and on the applicative benefits they provide in their typical end-markets.

Along the training, participants will be taught the specific mechanisms that govern material performance, and will be given highly practical guidelines for material selection, hybridization and part design principles. After attending the seminar, participants will hold the keys to developing high-performance, lightweight and cost-effective components, building on a good understanding of:

  • Why do fibers reinforce plastics, and what are the reinforcing mechanisms?
  • What is the dependence on fiber length, and how critical is interfacial interaction?
  • Under which product forms are continuous fiber thermoplastic composites available; what are their general strengths and weaknesses?
  • Which factors drive material selection, that is:
    • What is the role of the matrix polymer (crystalline/amorphous, high/low-Tg)?
    • How does the reinforcement affect performance (glass/carbon/other, unidirectional/woven)?
    • What are the effects of fiber orientation, ply stacking and anisotropy?
  • How are properties dependent on temperature, load orientation, time or cyclic loads; with this in mind, what are general design principles for thermoplastic composite parts?
  • What are the available processing methods for the various semi-finished product forms available today (tape laying, filament winding, stamping, overmolding); how does this influence productivity, cycle time, performance and cost?
  • How can thermoplastic composites be combined with conventional materials; what approaches are there to using them for local part reinforcement with conventional processing technology?
  • What are typical applications and specific applicative benefits of thermoplastic composites and hybrid parts?
  • How are the adoption level and market maturity for thermoplastic composites technology; how are they forecast to develop?

Target audience
This course is intended for a wide audience of technicians, engineers, scientists and managers eager to discover the thriving field of Thermoplastic Composites within the broader context of fiber-reinforced plastics. Participants will discover the specific technical attributes of this relatively new class of materials and their associated processes and application areas.

Vito Leo is a physicist by training (PhD from Brussels University), and has been working for more than 37 years in the field of polymer processing and mechanical performance of thermoplastics. He has been very active in the field of Injection Molding of Thermoplastics and the use of Finite Element Numerical Simulation of this process, initiating and managing a CAE Team in a large company. He worked for the largest chemical company in Belgium in a number of research projects in the field of Rheology, Injection Molding, Mechanical performance of polymers and 3D Printing.

For nearly 20 years he was Professor at Université Libre de Bruxelles, where he taught an introductory course in Polymer Processing to students of the Engineering Faculty nearly identical in content to his well-known seminar BIMS-1. He now works full-time on the BIMS SEMINARS activities, expanding the training portfolio and starting consulting work in addition.


Hans Miltner has a degree in chemical engineering and obtained a doctorate in the field of polymer science from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He started his career in academia, conducting applied research in the area of polymer nano composites. He then moved to industry where he led developments in functional coatings, specialty polymer compounds and thermoplastic composites. After moving on in more commercial and business management roles, overseeing a number of global market segments such as automotive and oil & gas, he founded an independent technology consultancy and business development firm.

Today he supports material suppliers, technology providers and end-users across the global plastics and composites industry, facilitating the market introduction and accelerating the adoption of plastics innovations. He brings along 17 years of combined academic and industrial technical experience in the plastics sector.

Seminar hours

29 October: 10.00-17.30

Registration fee

 DKK 6,095  Members of ATV-SEMAPP
 DKK 6,495  Non-members

Includes sessions, educational materials & catering. Excl. hotel booking. Participants will receive a certificate after completing the course.

All prices are excluded of Danish VAT 25%.

Save 400 DKK when registering before 1 August 2021.

Rooms can be booked directly at Scandic Sydhavnen

Minimum no. of participants: 15

Registration closed on 22 September 2021.

Registration is binding, however substitutions are accepted at any time.