Germany’s Lanxess was featured at the recent VDI Congress “Plastics in Automotive Engineering” in Mannheim, Germany, with a special focus on high-tech thermoplastics for future mobility applications. “New forms of mobility, such as autonomous driving, the electrification of vehicle power trains and new logistics concepts, are important growth drivers for our polyamides, polyesters and thermoplastic composites,” explained Dr. Martin Wanders, head of global applications development in the High Performance Materials business unit. “Our current development activities focus on materials and technologies for lightweight structures as well as on heat-dissipating, flame-retardant polyamides and polyesters for thermally stressed electrical and electronic components. Another focus is set on polyamides with high thermal stability,” explained Wanders.
|Lanxess had a prominent presence at the VDI Congress with technologies for lightweighting, high heat applications and next-generation mobility.|
One highlight at the Lanxess booth was the new Hollow Profile Hybrid technology. This process and lightweight design technology is a further development of the classic plastic-metal hybrid technology for automotive mass production. Instead of sheet metal, hollow metal profiles with round or square cross-sections are used in combination with polyamide (PA) 6 injection molding. “Due to their dimensional stability, hollow profiles enable hybrid parts with significantly higher torsional stiffness and strength. There is an enormous potential for structural components such as cross car beams, which were not resilient enough using conventional hybrid technology,” said Wanders. Like plastic-metal hybrid technology, the new process was developed by Lanxess and is simple to realize by injection molding manufacturers. The investment for machinery and tooling is low, and cycle times are as short as for standard injection molding. A demonstrator part was shown at the VDI Congress in Mannheim to illustrate the advantages of the new lightweight design technology.
Another hot topic was XTS2 thermo-stabilization (Extreme Temperature Stabilization). It increases the thermal stability of polyamide 66 to up to 230°C. Wanders: “Important mechanical properties—such as tensile modulus, breaking stress or IZOD impact strength—are maintained at a high level even at constant temperatures of up to 230°C.” Unlike many other thermo-stabilization options, the new system shows no stabilization gap between 160° and 230°C. Target applications for XTS2 materials are in vehicles with highly efficient combustion engines. The first product from the XTS2 product portfolio is a polyamide 66 reinforced with a 35% glass-fiber reinforcement. The material will be marketed as Durethan AKV35XTS2. It is ideal for the production of components such as air intake manifolds with an integrated intercooler. Another PA 66 with a 30% glass-fiber reinforcement is under development as well as reinforced PA 66 for blowmolded hollow components such as air ducts in the engine compartment.
Another focal topic of the Lanxess presence at the congress lay in the continuous-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites of the Tepex brand family. They are reportedly becoming increasingly important for lightweight vehicle design and can be found today in more and more series production applications, such as front-end mountings and bumper beams, brake pedals, through-loading systems and fuel tank reinforcements. “We also see significant potentials for use in vehicle underbodies for the protection of batteries and in new concepts for highly-integrated, multi-position seats for self-driving cars,” explained Henrik Plaggenborg, head of Technical Marketing and Business Development Tepex Automotive. Lanxess is currently developing composite variants with electromagnetic shielding properties especially for components of electrified vehicle drivetrains.
New forms of mobility are also opening up a wide range of potential applications for thermoplastics. Lanxess sees significant potential for the use of its high-tech plastics in charging systems and cell holders for battery systems, in sensors and housings of electric motors, and in the infrastructures of e-mobility, for instance, in public charging stations. “Polyesters and polyamides offer best properties for the production of connectors and components for displays and control units in self-driving vehicles,” said Dr. Anika van Aaken, Project Manager New Mobility in the High Performance Materials business unit.
As an example illustrating the topic of electromobility, Lanxess exhibited a bracket for a middle-class electric car made of flame-retardant PA 6. Another exhibit at the congress was a connector housing made from a halogen-free, easy-flowing PA 6 reinforced by 45% glass fiber.