Thermoplastic vulcanizates, which combine the advantages of thermoplastic processing with rubber-like properties, fall short when it comes to high-performance applications, notably in cases where chemical and temperature resistance are required properties. To fill this gap, Kraiburg TPE (Waldkraiburg, Germany) has developed what it calls thermoplastic elastomer hybrids. The company featured this technology at Fakuma last week in Friedrichshafen, Germany, where I sat down with Frieder Vielsack, Head of Advance Development, who explained the genesis of the technology and how it can benefit customers.
|Frieder Vielsack oversaw the development of
the thermoplastic elastomer hybrid platform at Kraiburg TPE.
Kraiburg TPE had been looking for a way to eliminate the drawbacks of conventional EPDM/PP blends for the better part of 15 years, said Vielsack. Ten years ago, the research paid off with the development of Hipex, a blend that withstands temperatures up to 150°C and is resistant to oil and grease. “Hipex has been very successful in some niche automotive and building and construction applications, but it was not the [comprehensive] solution we wanted,” explained Vielsack. Inspiration for the next R&D milestone came from sister company Gummiwerk, a supplier of technical rubber compounds.
“My colleagues at Gummiwerk were using a mix of chemistries, curing systems and plasticizers, with the production technology serving as the connecting point. So, our approach shifted to developing a suitable production technology that can handle all of the base polymers on both the elastomer and thermoplastic sides. The outcome is the thermoplastic elastomer hybrid (TEH) material platform. And it is important to note that the technology revolves around a platform and not a material, per se,” stressed Vielsack. “It brings together elastomer and thermoplastic raw materials in a thermoplastic mold.”
As Kraiburg describes it in a news release, TEH manufacturing technology enables the combination of different mixtures of elastomers and thermoplastics with respective cross-linked systems to form materials achieving unprecedented properties related to media and temperature resistance. An added benefit is the capability to tailor the material’s property profile to suit a range of customer applications.
TEH materials are available in hardnesses from 55 to 80 Shore A, can withstand permanent operating temperatures up to 150°C (302°F) and remain chemically stable when exposed to materials such as oils, lubricants, fuels and coolants. Key applications include automotive components, lubrication and cooling systems in machinery and buildings, and seals and gaskets. E-mobility offers a fleet of opportunities for the materials, Vielsack adds, because it’s a new technology and manufacturers are not stuck in a rut of having “done it this way for a hundred years. They are open to exploring the possibilities.” Drive-train and battery heat-management systems in electric vehicles represent immediate opportunities, said Kraiburg.