High Performance Polymers (HPPs)

Both Exeter Advanced Technologies (X-AT) and the Centre for Additive Layer Manufacturing have considerable expertise in the manufacture, processing and application of High Performance Polymers (HPPs), which have potential applications in aerospace. automotive, pharmaceutical, electronics and many other industries. 

HPPs are defined as materials having operating temperatures, in air, higher than 150 °C. However some are able to operate continuously above temperatures as high as 400°C. Examples of these hard wearing, high performance polymers include fluoropolymers such as PTFE, modified phenolics, polyaryletherketones (PAEKs), polyimides, polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), and aromatic polysulfones (PSU). 

HPPs clearly represent a future opportunity in terms of advanced materials. Their lightweight, toughness and durability mean that they are not only an improved materials option to former metals and thermoset composites applications, but also a driver for innovative manufacturing by producing processable materials with extraordinary physical properties. Currently, the barriers are the limited range of materials available and their manufacturability. 

The challenges that X_AT and CALM are trying to address through its research programmes are to:

  • Create new materials with enhanced functionalisties - (chemically modified with bespoke molecular characteristics and new polymeric blends combining crystalline and amorphous HPPs)
  • Deliver application specific multi-property HPPs
  • Identify and understand the limiting factors for HPPs
  • Investigating new ways of manufacturing and recycling

Examples of some of the projects carried out are detailed below: