Glass fiber-reinforced phenolic resins are well suited to substitute aluminum die-cast materials. They meet the high thermomechanical and chemical demands that are typically found in combustion engine and electric drive train applications. An injection molding process development for further improving their mechanical properties by increasing the glass fiber length in the molded part was conducted. A novel screw mixing element was developed to improve the homogenization of the long fibers in the phenolic resin. The process operation with the mixing element is a balance between the desired mixing action, an undesired preliminary curing of the phenolic resin, and the reduction of the fiber length. The highest mixing energy input leads to a reduction of the initial fiber length L0 = 5000 μm to a weighted average fiber length of Lp = 571 μm in the molded part. This is an improvement over Lp = 285 μm for a short fiber-reinforced resin under comparable processing conditions. The mechanical characterization shows that for the long fiber-reinforced materials, the benefit of the increased homogeneity outweighs the disadvantages of the reduced fiber length. This is evident from the increase in tensile strength from σm = 21 MPa to σm = 57 MPa between the lowest and the highest mixing energy input parameter settings.
Keywords: fiber length measurement; injection work; long fiber processing; phenolic molding compound; plasticizing work; process data acquisition; screw mixing element; thermoset injection molding.