Mind & Matter


Recyclable High-Performance Thermoplastic

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Tegris polypropylene thermoplastic composite. Photo: Milliken.

The pursuit of stronger, lighter, and more durable composite materials has led to the development of products such as Tegris, a carbon-fiber lookalike material made of polypropylene tape yarn. South Carolina-based manufacturer Milliken invented Tegris, which was originally designated Moldable Fabric Technology (MFT), as an improvement over less safe or recyclable glass-based composite materials. Although Tegris relies on fossil fuel-derived feedstocks, the thermoplastic composite is completely recyclable as 100 percent polypropylene.

The material’s extreme lightness (0.02 lbs/ft²) and high impact resistance have made it an attractive candidate for the baggage industry, and it features prominently in a new line of luggage designed by Tumi. Other target applications include truck bed liners, ballistic panels, sporting equipment, and architectural composite panels.



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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.