RTP Company’s Glass Fiber-Reinforced PLA Bioplastic Compounds Improve Strength and Thermal Performance

Global custom engineered thermoplastics compounder RTP Company has commercialized the industry’s first line of glass fiber-reinforced polylactic acid (PLA) compounds that overcome many limitations of unmodified PLA by delivering greater strength, stiffness, and thermal performance. These new materials, which target durable and semi-durable applications, are the latest extension of RTP Company’s family of engineered bioplastic compounds that use resins derived from rapidly renewable resources.

 Engineered bioplastic compounds from RTP Company use resin derived from sustainable and renewable resources.

Engineered bioplastic compounds from RTP Company use resin derived from sustainable and renewable resources.

Engineered bioplastic compounds from RTP Company use resin derived from sustainable and renewable resources.

PLA bio-polymers are a sustainable alternative to traditional hydrocarbon-based thermoplastics such as polyesters, polyolefins, and high-impact polystyrene. However, unmodified PLA suffers from performance limitations in terms of mechanical and thermal properties. “Our new glass fiber reinforced PLA compounds enhance the strength and temperature performance of PLA making it possible for PLA to be considered for much broader use,” said Will Taber, Business Manager for Emerging Technologies at RTP Company.

Fully colorable and available globally, RTP Company’s reinforced PLA grades have glass fiber loadings from 10% to 40% with the ability to customize glass level to meet the specific requirements of individual applications in appliance, automotive, consumer goods, electrical & electronics, and construction markets.

The 30% glass fiber-reinforced PLA grade boasts a tensile strength of 16,500psi (114 MPa), flexural modulus of 1,630,000 psi (11,239 MPa), and heat deflection temperature (HDT) of 320°F at 66 psi (160°C at 455 kPa). In comparison to unmodified PLA, the compound has nearly twice the tensile strength and its HDT has increased by nearly 200°F (93°C). It surpasses the tensile strength, flexural modulus, and HDT of 30% glass fiber-reinforced polypropylene. “RTP Company can now produce PLA bioplastic compounds with mechanical properties that meet or exceed those of many traditional thermoplastics,” said Taber.

Proprietary nucleation packages speed crystallization which increases temperature performance and allows quicker part ejection, yielding PLA injection molding cycle times similar to PP and ABS. Several nucleating package option are available to balance cost and performance requirements. “We have really just begun to scratch the surface of what can be done with compounding PLA,” said Taber.

Engineered bioplastic compounds from RTP Company provide additional material options for those looking to meet bio-based or renewable content requirements for product certifications such as EPEAT and LEED along with the European Cradle-to-Cradle initiative and USDA BioPreferred labeling program.

RTP Company’s complete “Eco Solutions” product portfolio includes compounds that make use of bio-based or recycled resins, natural fibers, and halogen-free flame retardant or wear resistant additives. These materials address the sustainability, reutilization, and eco-conscious objectives of modern consumers and forward-thinking companies without compromising performance.

Innovation Bulletin Data Sheets

Comparison of 30% Glass Fiber Reinforced Compounds

  Unmodified PLA 30% GF PP 30% GF PLA 30% GF PBT
Tensile Strength 7,000 psi
48 MPa
11,000 psi
76 MPa
15,800 psi
109 MPa
18,000 psi
124 MPa
Flexural Strength 12,000 psi
83 MPa
16,200 psi
112 MPa
21,080 psi
145 MPa
27,500 psi
190 MPa
Flexural Modulus 555,000 psi
3,828 MPa
700,000 psi
4,826 MPa
1,600,000 psi
11,032 MPa
1,200,000 psi
8,274 MPa
Impact Resistance, Izod
Notched 1/8″ (3.2 mm)
0.3 ft-lbs/in
16 J/m
2.0 ft-lbs/in
107 J/m
1.1 ft-lbs/in
59 J/m
1.8 ft-lbs/in
96 J/m
Heat Deflection Temperature
@ 66 psi (455 kPa)
124°F
51°C
315°F
157°C
327°F
164°C
435°F
224°C

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