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BASF enters LGF-PA market, and offers simo software for this material

During its pre-K 2010 press conference today (June 22) in Frankenthal, Germany, officials at plastics and additives supplier BASF announced the company's entry into the market for long-glass-fiber-reinforced grades of polyamide. Not only will the material be offered, but the company also has upgraded the capabilities of its proprietary Ultrasim software to permit simulation of components made with these materials.

According to BASF this will be the first such software for long-glass-fiber-reinforced polyamide (LGF-PA) compounds. Andreas Wollny, marketing manager for the supplier's Ultramid brand of specialty polyamides (PA), reckons these new materials, coupled with the supplier's assistance to processors through its simulation software, should enable LGF-PA to make further inroads into metal replacement in automotive applications as well as in other appliacations such as power tools, appliances, and sporting goods.

The new LGF-PA grades will be marketed under the name Ultramid Structure LF. The company is starting with a small range of PA 6 and PA 66 grades with glass fiber levels between 40%-60% as well as various types of stabilization, with the plan to expand the portfolio in the future.

The supplier has been producing the material on a pilot plant at its Ludwigshafen, Germany headquarters for about two years, said Wollny, and now plans to build a commercial line with 2000 tonnes/yr capacity. BASF chose pultrusion to make the plastic strands containing endless glass fibers. In a second step, these strands are cut to a pellet length of 12 mm. A processor can then process the granules on a conventional injection molding machine, with fibers in finished parts forming a three-dimensional fiber network with fiber lengths of 3-6 mm.

In addition to the new material, the supplier has built on its established Ultrasim simulation software so that processors of the LGF-PA can also make use of this software top predict parts' performance. An example, said Wollny, is a crash absorber made of Ultramid Structure LF developed in-house: Its controlled failure upon impact is predicted and mapped precisely by the software. Experiment and simulation match closely, so that—as in the case of short-glass-fiber-reinforced materials—BASF will be able to assist with component design for the new product group. The company believes that to now this service is not yet available in the LGF-PA market in this comprehensive form.

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