Fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composite components with low weight, so-called lightweight components for transport and mobility, lead to significant CO2 savings. Despite established production technologies and weight savings, further progress in lightweight construction is increasingly difficult because the sustainability of these products is currently not given due to the unresolved recycling problem, although the regulations require, among other things, 85 % recycling of an end-of-life vehicle.

Short Description

Running time


Starting point / motivation

Despite near-net-shape production and advanced automation, the production of poly-propylene (PP) organic sheets or PP-UD tapes for lightweight construction generates up to 40 % waste, only some of which has so far been recycled. Complicated compo-nent geometries also require subsequent trimming of the organic sheet or UD tape reinforced parts after forming. The recycling of secondary composites made from thermoplastic organic sheets or UD tapes has hardly been researched, which results in obstacles to the use of recyclates, especially in the automotive industry due to high quality requirements and tight specifications. Recyclates also have a "heat history" that usually makes reprocessing difficult. Fiber-reinforced composite components therefore end up as post-consumer (P-C) waste for incineration. Consequently, the development of innovative recycling concepts and a new process technology with a closed product cycle are necessary for a broad market application.

Contents and goals

The aim of this project is to further develop injection molding compounding (SGC) as an innovative process technology for the closed-loop and energy-efficient recycling of glass fibre composite waste (LightCycle process). In addition, polypropylene re-claims (rPP) from P-C and post-industrial(P-I) sources are used as matrix material and extensively characterized. By ideally completely saving new material and reducing en-ergy requirements through the one-step LightCycle process, existing resources are optimally used, massive CO2 savings are made, and material cycles are closed through upcycling into high-quality technical products.

Methodological approach / Expected results

For the upcycling of these materials, (1) a new injection molding compounding process in the form of a LightCycle pilot plant is being developed, (2) a formulation metho-dology for thermo-oxidative stabilization and glass fiber reinforcement from recycled material is being worked out, (3) a new inline measurement technique for continuous detection of glass fiber content and melt quality is being developed, and (4) the cause-effect relationships between relevant process parameters and the mechanical prop-erties of the TC components are being determined with regard to an AI-based quality control system to be developed in a follow-up project. These four developments are important elements of a robust process control with high material and energy effi-ciency. Finally, the compounded glass fiber reinforced regranulates will be used (5) in a case study for the production of a simple thermoplastic demonstrator component with PP-UD tape reinforcement and GF-rPP overmolding to prove the applicability of the process. Life cycle assessment (6) is used to compare the improved environmental footprint for the single-stage process (LightCycle pilot plant) versus the two-stage for the production of rPP lightweight injection molded parts.

Project Partners

Partners of the project consortium

  • Montanuniversität Leoben
  • Lehrstuhl für Kunststoffverarbeitung
  • Lehrstuhl für Verarbeitung von Verbundwerkstoffen
  • Lehrstuhl für Werkstoffkunde und Prüfung der Kunststoffe
  • Johannes Kepler Universität Linz – LIT Factory
  • Institut für Polymer Injection Moulding and Process Automation
  • Institut für Polymer Processing and Digital Transformation
  • ENGEL Austria GmbH
  • Leistritz Extrusionstechnik GmbH
  • Gabriel-Chemie Gesellschaft m.b.H

Contact Address

Montanuniversität Leoben
Lehrstuhl für Kunststoffverarbeitung
Nina Krempl, DI(FH) –
Otto Glöckel Straße 2
8700 Leoben