11/6/2006 | 5 MINUTE READ

Plastics Progress: What You Need to Know

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New materials that can help produce better products.


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What It Is: A sheet molding compound (SMC)—either 100% vinylester or a polyester/vinylester blend—that can be used under the hood in heavy truck applications from IDI Composites International (Noblesville, IN; www.idicomposites.com)

What It’s About: Thermoset SMC AV-206 (35% glass content) is being used to produce heavy truck valve covers in place of die-cast aluminum. Processing advantages cited include parts consolidation and minimal secondary operations (e.g., milling and drilling). The material is said to be dimensionally stable, provide the ability to dampen harmonic vibrations (thereby aiding in NVH), heat resistant, corrosion resistant, and electrically nonconductive.

Where Else: Other heavy truck applications are oil drain pans, timing chain covers, and intake manifolds.



What It Is: A polymer that when burned is transformed into a ceramic that forms a solid protective insulative layer. So when used to coat electric cables, the ceramic prevents short circuits. The “ceramifying polymers” were developed by the Australian research organization CSIRO (www.csiro.au) and the CRC for Polymers; they are being developed by Ceram Polymerik.

What It’s About: Generally, polymers melt between 100° and 200°C and are completely disintegrated from 300°and 400°C. Ceramics are formed at 700°C, so the material developed had to be stable between the point of polymer degradation and the formation of the ceramic.

Where Else: In addition to electrical cables, there is a wide range of applications being considered, including doors and windows, structural steel, ceilings, and wall linings, oil rigs, aircraft, and cargo ships.

Also Know This: A version for cable products has been developed with Olex (www.olex.com/au).



What It Is: An injection-moldable ABS/nylon alloy for painted exterior applications. Called Triax 3250, the material is available from LANXESS Corp. (Pittsburgh; www.lanxess.com).

What It’s About: The material has the ability to withstand the high oven temperatures characteristic of electrostatic painting processes. What’s notable is that the material doesn’t need to be covered with a conductive primer, which saves time, materials, and labor. Flow and modulus are said to be good, and compared to properties of PPO/nylon alloys, there is a reduced coefficient of thermal expansion. Thin-walled parts can be produced with the material.

Also Know This: LANXESS Corp. is part of the Germany-based LANXESS Group, which was established in January 2005, having been spun off from the Bayer Group.



What It Is: An energy-absorbing foam that can be used in place of polyurethane and polypropylene materials. It’s called IMPAXX and it is available from Dow Automotive (Auburn Hills, MI; www.dowautomotive.com).

What It’s About: The material is said to be a lower-cost alternative to the other materials yet one that doesn’t sacrifice performance. It is said to cut weight by up to 50% as compared with polyurethane and polypropylene; it also allows the reduction in packaging space, which means interiors can be roomier.

Also Know This: the foam is said to have no tooling costs associated with it so last-minute design changes can be readily accommodated.



What It Is: A polyamide 46 (PA46). Specifically, heat-stabilized Stanyl TE250F6 thermoplastic from DSM Engineering Plastics (Evansville, IN; www.dsmep.com).

What It’s About: The application in question is non-automotive, but one that proves the capability of the material. It’s connectors for the wiring harnesses used in jet engine testing. The material has a heat-deflection temperature of 280°C. It has the ability to maintain mechanical strength to 270°C. The dimensional stability—especially creep resistance—is high. It is moldable. So when used as a connector, it has the ability to facilitate a dense pin count (via the ability to have thin walls molded), and because of the dimensional stability, it is able to provide pin retention even after multiple setups and teardowns.

Where Else: Well, if the heat-resistant polyamide molding compound can be applied in jet engine testing, presumably there are a multitude of potential auto applications.



What It Is: A powder-prime capable resin for SMC exterior body panels. It’s designated AROTRAN 610 and is from Ashland Composite Polymers (Dublin, OH; www.ashland.com).

What It’s About: Apparently, one of the issues with SMC panels for Class A surfaces is that due to the nature of the substrate, there can be painting problems. Research performed by a consortium of companies called together by General Motors indicates that air and moisture are absorbed by SMC during processing. This is then outgased during the heating that’s part of the painting process. What’s more, there tends to be waste associated with the over spraying of the powder primer that melts into the surface of the plastic component during painting.

Also Know This: The resin is said to provide an excellent surface quality and to minimize overspray (due to its prime-capable formulation).



What It Is: A glass run and retainer module for the Ford Mustang produced with an acrylonitrile-styrene-acrylate (ASA) material rather than through a metal and plastic assembly.

What It’s About: Len Marshick, manager, Advanced Product Design, Cooper-Standard Automotive (Novi, MI; www.cooperstandard.com), says that in the traditional approach, there are two metal parts that are stamped, roll formed, stretch bent, and screwed together. Then they’re primed and painted. This is followed by attachment to the doorframe. Two plastic parts are subsequently screwed onto the metal parts to improve the edge appearance. Molded appliqués are then placed on in order to match the color. This is replaced by the ASA assembly that uses Luran S 778T from BASF (Florham Park, NJ; www.basf.com). Says Marshick: “The thermoplastic glass run and retainer component incorporates a continuous, Class A exterior molding along the top and rear edges of the movable side glass area, and eliminates the need for body-color appliqués.

Also Know This: The complex assembly operation was replaced by quick, automated sonic welding of the components for the glass run and retainer module.



What It Is: A pair of resins produced with polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) polymers that are derived from 85% post-consumer plastic waste (e.g., soda bottles), Valox iQ and Xenoy iQ, from GE Plastics (Pittsfield, MA; www.geplastics.com).

What It’s About: GE is promoting its “ecomagination” approach to product development, so these two materials are in keeping with this. They’ve developed a proprietary manufacturing process to create the materials that isn’t recycling but a way to regenerate and upgrade what would otherwise be waste. The application for these materials (Valox iQ uses PBT-based polymers; Valox iQ is an alloy of PBT-based polymers and polycarbonate (PC)) includes connectors, lighting bezels, energy absorbers, and body panels.

Also Know This: GE is working with OEMs and Denso on validating applications for the new polymers. Also, it is working on a thermoplastic elastomer that uses post-consumer waste and another Valox iQ resin that combines post-consumer waste and bio-based feedstock that will replace petroleum-based material. 


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