Lanxess bullish on blow-molding for auto

Lanxess bullish on blow-molding for auto

Global team for blow-molding applications founded; investment in blow-molding system completed; expanded technical customer support; customer- and application-specific material optimization.

Resin supplier Lanxess envisages an extensive range of potential applications for blow-molded components made from technical plastics in automobiles. On the one hand, the global trend toward more turbocharged combustion engines that are both efficient and climate-friendly is continuing. This is leading to increased demand for air management components, especially blow-molded charge air pipes, with Asia, in particular, being a major growth market because the market share of turbocharged engines here is still comparatively low. On the other hand, the number of natural-gas-powered vehicles is increasing all the time, and fuel cell technology is being heralded as a new growth technology. Blow-molded polyamide (PA) liners are already used in compressed natural gas and are also the best choice for hydrogen tanks.

A KBS20-SB extrusion blow-molding machine from Kautex is at the core of Lanxess’ efforts to expand the role of polyamide in technical parts.

These trends motivated the High Performance Materials (HPM) business unit at Lanxess not only to set up a global team tasked with developing blow-molding materials and their applications in modern powertrains but also commissioning a state-of-the-art blow-molding system at the technical center in Dormagen. “Having our own processing equipment ensures that our blow-molding product types possess excellent processing properties,” said Dr. Klaus Küsters, who is responsible for developing the blow-molding business field at HPM. “Our customers benefit directly from in-depth processing expertise. The new system will also allow us to offer targeted assistance, for example during troubleshooting or at the start of series production.”

The new system is a KBS20-SB extrusion blow-molding machine from Kautex Maschinenbau GmbH. This new system means that Lanxess now also has two tools for manufacturing close-to-production components in the focus application fields. One tool is designed especially for air ducts such as charge air ducts or clean air ducts in combustion engines. Within a suction blow-molding process it can be used to manufacture complex pipes with varying diameters and oval cross-sections up to 630 millimeters in length. Clean air ducts with integrated bellows can also be manufactured. The second tool is designed mainly for blow-molded liners for high-pressure tanks in hydrogen- and natural-gas-powered vehicles. It also features a flat cavity area from which test specimens for calculating material characteristic values can be generated. “The resulting process-related material data give a very precise and representative material description and help our customers in application development,” said Küsters.

Lanxess is also expanding its expertise in the field of virtual design methods. Thanks to simulations of blow-molding processes, HPM will be able to help its customers to design their processes with a view to increasing efficiency. As part of an international consortium, HPM will also promote the development of simulation software for suction blow-molding.

All this means that HPM can offer a comprehensive package of blow-molding services – totally in keeping with the HiAnt philosophy. Under this brand, the business unit has combined its expertise in material, application, procedural and technological development so that it can support customers at all stages of component development. The service encompasses everything from concept design, material optimization and the calculation of component characteristics by means of simulation tools right through to processing, component testing and the start of series production.

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