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Envalior Debuts Hollow-Profile Hybrid Technology at VDI Event

Formed in April through the merger of Lanxess and DSM, Envalior will showcase an array of e-mobility products at VDI Plastics in Automotive Engineering this week.

Stephen Moore

June 19, 2023

4 Min Read
plastic component
Image courtesy of Envalior

Envalior’s appearance at the VDI Plastics in Automotive Engineering 2023 event in Mannheim, Germany, on June 21 and 22 will focus on material and technology solutions for battery-electric and fuel-cell-powered vehicles. Envalior is a new company formed in April through the merger of DSM Engineering Materials and Lanxess High Performance Materials

An additional focus will be on the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and the latest trends in vehicle technology, such as advanced driver assistance systems. “Through our innovations, we want to make vehicles lighter, safer, and more powerful. A particular focus here is on increasing the use of sustainable materials based on recycled or bio-based raw materials, which not only reduce the carbon footprint of the application but also promote the establishment of resource-conserving material cycles,” said Julian Haspel, head of the e-powertrain team at Envalior.

Plastic-metal hybrid composites

The world’s first series-production part manufactured using hollow-profile hybrid technology will be on display at the event. The process uses conventional injection molding machines to overmold metallic hollow profiles with plastic compounds based on resins such as polyamide (PA) 6.

The front-end support was developed in collaboration with Chinese system supplier Dongfang Jiangsu to replace a welded metal construction. “This component is proof that our new lightweight technology is already in production,” said Dr. Matthias Theunissen, project manager for lightweighting at Envalior. Components are typically around 20 to 30% lighter and have increased torsion resistance and dimensional stability. Major potential applications of hollow-profile hybrid technology include the manufacture of integrated instrument panel crossbeams, among other components.

Ball bearing housings accelerate electric motors

Stanyl PA 46 compounds from Envalior are examples of a material innovation for lightweight construction of electric motors. They are capable of resisting the kind of extreme thermal, dynamic, and mechanical stress that housings for high-speed ball bearings must withstand. “The housings can be designed to be extremely small and thin-walled and are ideal for miniature ball bearings that operate at speeds up to 30,000 rpm at low torque,” said Dr. Tamim Sidiki, global marketing director of mobility at Envalior.

Alternative to steel and aluminum

Another highlight from Envalior is a new continuous-fiber-reinforced composite marketed under the Tepex brand. “It passes market-standard thermal runaway tests for electric vehicle (EV) battery housings on test specimens less than two millimeters thick. [It] represents a lightweight alternative to materials such as steel or aluminum for battery housings,” said Haspel.

The tests simulate the extreme stresses to which battery housings are exposed if battery cells catch fire. Envalior also extensively tests the feasibility of injection-molding large-format battery housings as an alternative to compression molding. One approach is to use large Tepex blanks as bases for low-profile housings. “This allows reduced injection pressure and the use of smaller injection-molding machines with much lower clamping forces, leading to competitive manufacturing costs,” said Haspel.

Unlimited storage, unlimited choice of colors

One real eye-catcher on Envalior’s stand will be the colorful range of Fakra connectors made from ForTii Ace polyphthalamide (PA 4T PPA) compounds for applications such as navigation systems, antennas, and advanced driver assistance system sensors. These PPA compounds combine the low moisture absorption and color and dimensional stability characteristic of polyesters with the high-quality mechanical properties and unlimited dyeing capability of polyamides.

The compounds exhibit long-term thermal stability up to 180°C as well as exceptional tracking resistance and dielectric strength. “As far as we know, these are the only polyamides in the world that fulfill the JEDEC MSL1 standard. This means that the compounds and the components made from them can be stored for an unlimited time without the need for any specific packaging to protect them against moisture,” said Sidiki. The product range also includes halogen-free, flame-retardant variants and materials that inhibit electrical corrosion on metal contacts.

On the road to a circular economy

By 2030, Envalior wants to include bio-based and recycled product variants across its entire portfolio with a view to establishing sustainable material cycles and becoming climate-neutral. Product examples include the new Tepex variants made from polyamide — based on castor oil — and flax fibers. These semi-finished products are suited for the structural lightweight construction of components such as seat shells and battery holders.

Examples of circular materials include the Durethan ECO and Akulon RePurposed PA 6 product ranges. The latter are partially based on old fishing nets and can be used to manufacture components such as cable harness clamps. The Durethan ECO range includes compounds reinforced using glass fibers made from industrial glass waste. For example, the ultra-reinforced Durethan COBKV60H2.0EF grade can be used to make structural components such as front-ends, A-pillars, and battery trays.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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