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Nanotechnology increases strength of SMC

Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) in the USA have added a nanomaterial to sheet moulding compound (SMC) to make it stronger, tougher and electrically conductive.

The nanomaterial – xGnP® graphene nano-platelets – was invented at MSU.

Research shows that when about 3% of the material is added to a standard SMC formulation, the resulting composite material is 40% stronger, 20% stiffer, and has 80% higher impact strength.

The research was led by Professor Lawrence T. Drzal in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, director of MSU’s Composite Materials and Structures Center (CMSC). He is also chief scientist at XG Sciences Inc, a start-up company headquartered in East Lansing, Michigan, which produces materials based on the xGnP brand graphene nano-platelets. xGnP is a platelet consisting of several sheets of graphene with an overall thickness of approximately 5 nm and particle diameters that can range from sub-micron to 100+ microns.

“In addition to the increase in strength, this new nanocomposite is electrically conductive enough so that it can be electrostatically painted without requiring the additional coating process now used to paint most SMC parts," says Drzal. "This will save money in manufacturing and reflects our approach toward overall cost effectiveness with these new advanced materials.”

SMC is used in many industrial applications, especially the manufacture of automotive parts.

“This new SMC is just one of several improved composite materials that can be made with our xGnP® Graphene Nanoplatelets,” says Michael R. Knox, CEO of XG Sciences. “We look forward to the introduction of a whole family of advanced composite materials based on our products."

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