A Review of Thermoplastic Resin Transfer Molding: Process Modeling and Simulation

Polymers (Basel). 2019 Sep 24;11(10):1555. doi: 10.3390/polym11101555.


The production and consumption of polymer composites has grown continuously through recent decades and has topped 10 Mt/year. Until very recently, polymer composites almost exclusively had non-recyclable thermoset matrices. The growing amount of plastic, however, inevitably raises the issue of recycling and reuse. Therefore, recyclability has become of paramount importance in the composites industry. As a result, thermoplastics are coming to the forefront. Despite all their advantages, thermoplastics are difficult to use as the matrix of high-performance composites because their high viscosity complicates the impregnation process. A solution could be reactive thermoplastics, such as PA-6, which is synthesized from the ε-caprolactam (ε-CL) monomer via anionic ring opening polymerization (AROP). One of the fastest techniques to process PA-6 into advanced composites is thermoplastic resin transfer molding (T-RTM). Although nowadays T-RTM is close to commercial application, its optimization and control need further research and development, mainly assisted by modeling. This review summarizes recent progress in the modeling of the different aspects of the AROP of ε-CL. It covers the mathematical modeling of reaction kinetics, pressure-volume-temperature behavior, as well as simulation tools and approaches. Based on the research results so far, this review presents the current trends and could even plot the course for future research.

Keywords: T-RTM; crystallization kinetics; in situ polymerization; modeling; polymerization kinetics; reactive PA-6; rheokinetics.

Publication types

  • Review