Material and Flow Models for Natural Fiber Reinforced Injection Molding Materials for Practical Use in the Automotive Industry

The interest in renewable materials in car making has mushroomed in recent years. Natural fiber reinforced plastics are an attractive solution, because of their interesting mechanical properties, and because they are based on renewable raw materials.

One of the main obstacles to being used on a large scale in the car development process is the requirement that all components must be predictable: that is, all components must show all-round theoretical proof that they meet product safety requirements and are fit for purpose through using digital simulation. This is a fixed, established procedure in the automotive industry to meet today's development times.

The project now instigated by a consortium around the European Ford research center aims to close this gap for injection moldable natural fiber reinforced plastics.

Over the project's three-year life, it aims to work through a series component made of natural fiber reinforced plastic using all simulation methods available today and so show it can be used in series production. It also aims to work out the basic simulation parameters for as many different NF compounds as possible, so the results can be widely used in future.

This will give natural fiber reinforced plastics the same status as established conventional plastics when selecting materials. Mechanical calculations will focus on simulating crash response (including in total vehicle simulation), which is vital.

Meeting these aims means considering the process as a whole:

  • Establishing the micro-mechanical characteristics of natural fibers before  and after processing
  • Deriving a suitable fiber orientation model
  • Modeling typical side-effects when using NF plastics (fiber damage,  separation etc.)
  • Making NF compounds and test pieces
  • Describing the rheological and thermal characteristics of NF compounds completely
  • Determining quasi-static and dynamic mechanical characteristics
  • Integrating the fiber orientation model with commercial flow simulation software
  • Scaling up compound production for selected materials to near-series level
  • Integrating material models with commercial CAE software, especially for processing and crash simulation purposes
  • Simulating a series component
  • Producing the series component and conducting extensive mechanical testing, including crash response


This project aims to open the way to enable natural fiber reinforced plastics to be designed theoretically and simulated in the automotive industry and subsequently in other industries, so they can be used much more compared with conventional materials.


Project partners

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