Duroplast is a composite thermosetting plastic, a close relative of formica and bakelite. It is a resin plastic reinforced with fibers (either cotton or wool) making it a fiber-reinforced plastic similar to fiberglass.
Duroplast was used by the German Democratic Republic state owned automobile manufacturer called VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau from 1955 to until 1991, just after German Reunification. It was the material used to produce the body of the Trabant. There were four main versions of the Trabant, the 1963-1990 Trabant 601 was the longest running. The successor company is called HQM Sachsenring GmbH.
Duroplast is light and strong. It is made of recycled material, cotton waste and phenol resins. Because it can be made in a press similar to shaping steel, it is more suitable for volume car production than fiberglass.
Similar to fiberglass, Duroplast has limited possibilities for efficient disposal. As discarded Trabants began to fill junkyards, disposing of the bodies inspired creative solutions. One of these was developed by a Berlin biotechnology company, who experimented with a bacterium that would consume the body in 20 days. Urban legends, depicted in the movie Black Cat White Cat and described in a song by the Serbian band Atheist Rap, described recycling Duroplast by feeding the cars to pigs, sheep and other farm animals. In the late 1990s, the same Zwickau plant that manufactured the Trabant developed a solution for Duroplast disposal. After removing the glass, engine, and steel frame, the Duroplast shell is shredded and used as an aggregate in cement blocks for pavement construction. This was featured in an episode of the program Scientific American Frontiers on the American PBS TV channel.
- Scientific American Frontiers.
- Kumar, Arvind (2004), Environment Contamination & Bioreclamation, APH Publishing, p. 32, ISBN 978-81-7648-587-6.
- Petrány, Máté (February 13, 2015). "How Come Duroplast Didn't Become A Thing While Fiberglass Went Big?". Jalopnik. Retrieved 2 July 2015.
- Tony Davis (2005) "Lemon!: Sixty Heroic Automotive Failures", ISBN 1-56025-757-1, Chapter "Trabant P601, p.156-158