Center for Materials Engineering
Department of Chemical Engineering

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Polymer Micrograph

A Concerted European Effort for the Advancement of Multiphase Thermoplastics

A Thematic Network on Multiphase Thermoplastics

Under the direction of Professor Clive Bucknall, the Cranfield University Polymer Group, supported by the European Union (Brite-EuRam Programme), has established a framework for the implementation and development of a thematic network on the Micromechanics and Processing of Multiphase Thermoplastics.

Many sectors of industry have benefited from the development of novel blends, in which plastics are combined with rubbers, other plastics or thermosetting resins to produce easily-processed low-density materials that provide good stiffness in conjunction with excellent fracture toughness. The Polymer Group, which is part of the School of Industrial and Manufacturing Science at Cranfield University, has been at the forefront of these developments for the last 25 years and has advised leading plastics producers on the best methods to optimise the performance of their products.

The exploratory phase to develop a thematic network has resulted in a collaboration between Cranfield University and the Institut Charles Sadron (ICS), which is a laboratory of the French National Science Research Council in Strasbourg. The ICS group has a well established reputation as one of Europe's leading research laboratories in the field of polymers, including both melt processing and mechanical properties. Their representative on the thematic network management team is Dr. Christophe Fond, a researcher at the ICS, who has worked extensively on the importance of rubber particle cavitation in plastic deformation and energy absorption in multiphase polymers, one of the most exciting recent developments in this area. As part of the initial exploratory phase, the groups at Cranfield and Strasbourg are currently contacting prospective partners and are establishing a framework for the network. At present 20 companies and universities in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have expressed a strong desire to partake in such a joint collaboration. In 1994, the world market for plastics was 110 million metric tons, of which Western Europe's share was 34 %, a value which should increase as a result of a collaborative and focused research effort. Thus the aim of this initiative is to provide:

for the development of high-performance Multiphase Plastics in Europe. For progression to the next generation of Multiphase Polymers, particular areas which need to be addressed include:

These principal points will be approached with a parallel emphasis on energy conservation.

At present the network is at an exploratory phase, the objective being to establish contacts and interest groups, and with additional support from the E.U. to implement the Thematic Network. Both groups would welcome responses from European industries, universities and research establishments who feel they could benefit from and/or contribute to the network. For more information contact:

Dr. Andrea Lazzeri
Tel: +39 050 511 207, Fax: +39 050 511 266, Email: