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Articles from 2018 In September


New automotive PA 66 grade to debut at Fakuma

New automotive PA 66 grade to debut at Fakuma

Ascend Performance Materials will showcase a new grade of its Vydyne polyamide (PA) 66 designed for automotive lightweighting at Fakuma in Friedrichshafen, Germany, from October 16 to 20, 2018. The new grade, Vydyne R433H, is designed to reinforce down-gauged steel and aluminum used in vehicle body in white (BIW) structures, helping reduce weight without sacrificing safety or comfort.

Ascend’s Rook: “By establishing dedicated manufacturing capabilities in Europe, we ensure greater reliability of supply to our customers in the region.”

Vydyne R433H is said to exhibit improved energy absorption over traditional glass-filled PA66, reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) and absorbing impact energy from crashes. Using the new grade in the BIW structure reinforces sheet metal, helping manufacturers shave substantial weight and improve efficiency.

In electric vehicles, where lightweighting and NVH reduction are especially important, R433H also works well in battery frame and housing applications.

“The BIW accounts for nearly half the weight of a vehicle,” said Vikram Gopal, Ascend’s senior vice president of technology. “Balancing a reduction in weight with passenger comfort and safety has been a technical challenge. We’re excited to bring a solution to market that meets manufacturers’ drive toward efficiency with the consumer’s desire for a safe, comfortable driving experience.”

Ascend will also highlight its newly acquired manufacturing facility in Tilburg, Netherlands. The acquisition of the compounder Britannia Techno Polymer closed on July 31, 2018, and established Ascend’s first European manufacturing base.

“By establishing dedicated manufacturing capabilities in Europe, we ensure greater reliability of supply to our customers in the region,” said Scott Rook, Ascend’s senior vice president of nylon. “We have a long relationship with the site and our integration efforts are moving along quickly.”

DSM collaborates to transform discarded fishing nets into surfboard components

DSM collaborates to transform discarded fishing nets into surfboard components

DSM has teamed up with Starboard, a supplier of paddle, surf, windsurf and kiteboards to collect and upcycle discarded fishing nets to create a material for consumer goods such as surfboard components. In doing so the collaboration supports litter-free beaches, a healthier marine environment and creates a positive social impact for local communities in India.

Ghost nets are transformed into surfboard components in an Indian-based initiative led by DSM and Starboard.

DSM and Starboard came together when the surfboard company selected DSM’s Akulon RePurposed, where the resin used is fully recycled from discarded polyamide-based fishing nets and is known for its sustainability profile as much as its performance. The discarded fishing nets are gathered from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, and are given a new lease of life as fins, fin boxes, SUP pumps, and other structural parts in surfboards. All the products made using Akulon RePurposed, are branded as NetPositive! by Starboard.

“At DSM, our strategy includes developing innovative solutions and collaborations that contribute to a circular economy and aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals addressing climate change, resource scarcity, waste and pollution. We look beyond society’s current model of take-make-dispose and instead try to mimic nature and the circle of life. For example, in our collaboration with Starboard we use waste to make a long-lasting, high-value material that can again be recovered at the end of its life cycle to become something new,” said Matt Gray, Commercial Director Asia Pacific, DSM Engineering Plastics.

“One of the most satisfying parts of our work is the challenge of redesigning our products to lower their environmental impact and achieve higher performance,” said Svein Rasmussen, Founder and CEO of Starboard. “Through this collaboration with DSM, we showcase how quick and easy it can be to change the way we build better boards for the planet. We want to continuously push boundaries for more eco-innovations for our boards.”

In addition to addressing environmental concerns, the collection, sorting, cleaning and processing of discarded fishing nets creates sustainable livelihoods for several local communities in India.

According to figures from the UN, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife and fisheries and costing at least US$8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. Abandoned plastic fishing nets are a part of the problem. According to a report jointly produced by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment Program (UNEP), fishing nets abandoned at sea remain in the marine ecosystem for hundreds of years. Known as ghost fishing nets, experts have estimated that there are roughly 640 000 tonnes of these nets currently in the ocean, accounting for almost 10% of all plastic waste in the sea.

Fakuma 2018: Japan’s Polyplastics to highlight latest material and technology innovations

Fakuma 2018: Japan’s Polyplastics to highlight latest material and technology innovations

Japan’s Polyplastics will showcase its material solutions, technology innovations, and the latest applications at the upcoming Fakuma 2018 exhibition Oct. 16–20 in Friedrichshafen, Germany (Hall B1, Booth B1-1213). The trade show is expected to attract more than 1,800 exhibitors and roughly 50,000 visitors.

Polyplastics homes in on automotive and electrical/electronics applications with its range of engineering plastics. Pictured here is a hybrid electric vehicle motor insulator.

Polyplastics will also focus on e-mobility, along with its efforts in research and development. The company’s newly established technical center in Frankfurt offers expanded customer support, delivering design and product development expertise for a range of applications.

Polyplastics will exhibit the latest developments for its broad product portfolio including Duracon polyacetal (POM), Duranex polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), Durafide polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), Laperos liquid crystal polymer (LCP), and TOPAS cyclic olefin copolymer (COC) resins. Examples of recent applications in new energy vehicles, high-end electric devices, and food and sanitary will also be displayed.

Other key material developments include POM resin grades with low-VOC emissions for the production of automotive interiors. These Duracon low-VOC acetal grades are specifically designed to meet the latest regulations governing the concentration of VOCs in automotive interiors.

Polyplastics will also highlight its new Durafide PPS grade which delivers improved heat shock resistance for a range of automotive applications. Meanwhile, the company will showcase its extensive range of engineering thermoplastics which facilitate laser welding of housing components for the automotive and electrical/electronics industries.

At Fakuma, Polyplastics will present the viability of PPS for bump-off molding of automotive engine cooling systems. Bump-off molding results in an undercut that “bumps” in two directions and ejects from the mold without using a sliding structure. The parting line (mold lip) is eliminated, allowing for a burr-less product. Polyplastics’ linear Durafide PPS, which already offers superior performance over rivals like polyamide 66, now has bump-off molding capabilities to eliminate deburring. Polyplastics has also developed Duranex 457EV, an unfilled, high-impact PBT which satisfies the UL2251 standard for electrical/electronics and automotive.

Solvay’s PARA resin key to development of new single-use surgical device

Intelligent Implant Systems

Polymers supplier Solvay (Alpharetta, GA) announced today that the high stiffness, strength, gamma-sterilization resistance and biocompatibility of its Ixef polyarylamide (PARA) resin helped enable a new single-use instrument kit for anterior cervical fusion procedures. Developed by Intelligent Implant Systems, a medical device company specializing in solutions for spinal surgery, the Mediant Anterior Cervical Plating System leverages Solvay’s advanced polymer to help boost operating room efficiency, eliminate onsite sterile processing and reduce infection risk.

“The primary benefit of Solvay’s Ixef PARA in this application is its metal-like strength, which gives our single-use surgical instruments a very high level of performance without incurring the costs associated with machining metal and repeated steam sterilization,” said Marc Richelsoph, President and CEO of Intelligent Implant Systems. “Although PEI also offered viable options for our surgical tool kit, we specified Ixef GS-1022 PARA because its superior stiffness and moldability was essential for the kit’s instruments.”

Ixef GS-1022 PARA forms the awl and pin-screwdriver handles, measuring caliper, and locking plier handles in the kit. The polymer’s impact resistance also eliminated the need for a metal strike plate that had been part of the awl’s early designs. This reduced the cost and simplified the manufacture and assembly of the instrument, further supporting the economics of single-use instruments.

Ixef GS-1022 PARA is available in a range of gamma-stabilized colors, including the signature green of the Mediant system’s tools. The polymer has been evaluated for ISO 10993 limited-duration biocompatibility and is supported by an FDA Master Access File, which helped streamline the kit’s navigation through regulatory approvals.

“Solvay was an early advocate of the healthcare industry’s shift toward single-use surgical instruments, and we sought to support customers by proactively developing a broad portfolio of biocompatible polymer alternatives to metal, complete with gamma-sterilized colors and master access files,” said Jeff Hrivnak, Business Manager for Healthcare at Solvay’s Specialty Polymers Global Business Unit. “Yet while the industry’s growing adoption of our advanced polymers validates this early insight, we derive much greater satisfaction in working closely with innovators like Intelligent Implant Systems to help achieve unique new designs for improving patient results.”

Intelligent Implant Systems will feature the device during the North American Spine Society (NASS) meeting in Los Angeles on Sept. 26 to 29.

Elkhart Plastics snaps up fellow custom roto molder

Elkhart Plastics' Kong cooler

One of the largest custom rotational molding companies in the United States, Elkhart Plastics Inc. (EPI; South Bend, IN) reports that it has signed a definitive agreement to purchase the assets of The Plastic Professionals (P2) and Connect-A-Dock (CAD). The transaction is expected to finalize within the next 30 days. 

Elkhart Plastics manufactures Kong coolers.

P2 is a 15-year-old custom rotational molder that primarily serves the marine recreation and point-of-purchase industries. It currently manufactures molded components for CAD, which was founded in 1995 and supplies modular floating docks and PWC docks to dealers across the United States. 

Both P2 and CAD are located in Atlantic, IA, and are subsidiaries of Owner Revolution Inc., located in Adair, IA. 

“We’re excited that this acquisition will allow us to increase our U.S. footprint and give EPI greater capacity,” said Jack Welter, CEO of EPI. “We’re looking forward to increasing service to current and future customers with an additional manufacturing location.” 

EPI plans to transfer production from some of its current locations to P2 to better serve existing customers. In addition to its headquarters, EPI operates facilities in Littleton, CO.; Elkhart and Middlebury, IN.; and Ridgefield, WA. 

With its 10 rotational molding machines, EPI manufactures products in a range of shapes, lengths and thicknesses for customers in the recreational vehicle, marine, agriculture, commercial construction, truck, material handling and other sectors. EPI also manufacturers Tuff Stack and Tuff Cube intermediate bulk containers and Kong coolers.

World's first particle foam based on polyethersulfone debuts

World's first particle foam based on polyethersulfone debuts

At the conclusion of an intensive research effort spanning two years, BASF has presented prototypes of the world's first particle foam based on polyethersulfone (PESU). The foam is characterized by its unique combination of properties: high-temperature resistance, inherent flame retardancy — and its extreme light weight coupled with great stiffness and strength.

On account of its properties, the foam is considered particularly well suited for complex-shaped components in cars, airplanes and trains, which require excellent mechanical properties together with the ability to withstand high operating temperatures or to meet stringent flame- retardant requirements. The expandable PESU granulate is pre-foamed into beads with low densities between 40 and 120 g/l and can be processed into molded parts with complex 3D geometries using existing foam processing technologies available on the market.

PESU foam combines lightweight, stiff and strong, highly temperature resistant, and intrinsically flame retardant properties.

BASF’s Ultrason E PESU is an amorphous thermoplastic with an extraordinary temperature profile: It has a high glass transition temperature of 225°C and remains dimensionally stable up to this temperature. Its mechanical and dielectric properties are only slightly dependent on temperature.

Foams made of Ultrason E are approved for use in aircraft. The material, with its exceptionally high limiting oxygen index of three (according to ASTM D 2863), distinguishes itself because it meets the requirements for commercial aircraft with regard to combustibility, low heat release and low smoke density (fire, smoke, toxicity) even without the addition of flame retardants, which means it is intrinsically flame retardant.

Despite its low density, the PESU particle foam enables extremely stiff and strong components with excellent dimensional stability at high temperatures. Expanded molded parts made from one single material offer numerous advantages compared to traditional honeycomb structures coated with phenolic resins: They offer considerable flexibility in terms of densities and shapes and therefore greater freedom in design. There are fewer processing steps and therefore lower system costs. Additional functional parts such as inserts and screw threads can be integrated in the complex geometries. Further, recycling of the parts can easily be carried out as the polymer is a single material.

Thanks to such weight-optimized, thermoplastic foams for complex geometries it is possible to realize new lightweight components which, when compared to traditional thermoplastic parts, reportedly have superior properties and are an answer to trends such as e-mobility in automotive, the modernization of aircraft cabin interiors, and increasing flame retardant requirements in public transport.

TPUs offer eco-friendly, light-weight options in an array of applications

TPUs offer eco-friendly, light-weight options in an array of applications

Taiwan’s Great Eastern Resins Industrial Co., Ltd. (GRECO) see a bright future for thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers (TPUs) in a variety of fields based on global megatrends. In the humble shoe sole, for example, GRECO has debuted products that could potentially replace rubber used in outsoles for footwear manufacturing. “The purpose for TPU replacing traditional raw materials is to on one hand expand eco-solutions, and the other reduce processing time while improve the actual performances of the end product,” Greco explained.

Other material replacement options include the introduction of the Isothane Calendar Series as a replacement for PVC in synthetic leather applications. The primary advantages of TPU are increased levels of abrasion resistance and flame retardation.

In another development, GRECO’s Isothane 7000 Series Aliphatic grade exhibits non-yellowing features, low temperature flexibility and excellent resilience properties. These new features could potentially see its deployment in protection films for automobiles.

TPUs exhibit scratch resistance in auto interior applications.

GRECO future development roadmap for TPU focuses on R&D of expanded TPU foams. The goal is to make expandable TPU pellets that would be foamed using a microcellular process in an injection molding machine. Foamed TPU exhibits a resilience of over 60% while maintaining flexibility even at low temperature. “This product will be extremely beneficial for light-weight solutions and applications in the energy industry,” GRECO indicated.

More pioneering projects are being tested by GRECO and their customers. In 2017 GRECO explored new markets for TPUs, one of which used corn-derived, bio-based TPU to manufacture bibs for a Swedish customer active in the Chinese market. The other project used long fiber reinforced TPU in wind turbine blades to prolong their service life. Long fiber reinforced TPU has high tensile strength to withstand wind resistance, while being much lighter than metal. Further, the wind turbine design can be optimized.

The final TPU development at GRECO is promoting engineering grade applications: Isothane 8000 TPU engineering grades, for example, appear to be suitable for extrusion and injection molding applications. “We are expecting increased adoption in electronics, automobiles, hand tools, home appliances, medical devices, and optical products,” GRECO remarked.

Westlake Chemical aims to acquire French compounder

Westlake Chemical aims to acquire French compounder

Westlake Chemical Corporation has made a binding offer to acquire Nakan, a global compounding solutions business, from Los Angeles-based private equity firm, OpenGate Capital. The Reims, France-based concern is a compounder of PVC, TPE and TPO compounds for automotive, healthcare/medical, packaging, consumer goods, building & construction.

Westlake acquisition target Nakan is active in the automotive field.
Nakan operates eight production facilities, located in China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain and Vietnam, as well as a research facility in France and application laboratory in the United States.

Nakan generated approximately $300 million of revenue in the most recent twelve-month period. Under the terms of Westlake’s offer, which is subject to exclusivity protection, Westlake will pay approximately $265 million in cash, subject to adjustment. The binding offer was made in order to permit Nakan to proceed with its consultation obligations with French works councils prior to entering into a negotiated, mutually binding purchase agreement.

“The combination of Nakan with Westlake’s existing compounding business will present an excellent strategic fit. It will allow us to expand our compounding business globally and add important specialty products and technology to our existing portfolio,” said Albert Chao, Westlake’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Nakan is an impressive business with an outstanding reputation for meeting customer needs with superior technology, product quality, and operating excellence. We look forward to working with their talented team once they join the Westlake family of companies.”

The transaction is expected to close by early 2019, subject to receipt of regulatory approvals, completion of required employee consultation procedures and other customary closing conditions.

Recent developments at Nakan include a rigid PVC without any plasticizer for filament extrusion used for 3D printing. The grade was developed jointly by Nakan’s German subsidiary Resitech Germany GmbH and Fillamentum Industrial. The tailor-made formulation especially adapted to the industrial 3D printing process, has excellent chemical resistance, flame retardant properties and high impact modification.