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Reinforcements | composites and LFTs

listed in the PIM, according to Michelman’s regulatory experts. Currently, suppliers have until 31 December 2015 to comply by submitting necessary data in support of inclusion of their constituents within the PIM, although this deadline may change. Food contact applications such as household

appliances, to which PIM applies, are a small but growing market for fi bre reinforced thermoplastics. In addition, many companies want all components, regardless of application, to meet food-contact requirements. However, some traditional fi bre sizings include components that are not on the PIM positive list. For example, sizings designed for polyamides (PAs) often use polyurethane chemistry that may contain hydrazine, which is not included in the PIM list.

Eliminating hydrazine Michelman is in the process of developing a line of polyurethane sizings that are hydrazine free, and the company recently developed a solvent-free PA disper- sion that is compliant with the PIM directive. Michel- man’s PA845, the fi rst product based on this new chemistry, is designed for carbon fi bres in high-tem- perature resins. “PA845 provides an option for some applications that had been using polyimide chemistry, which provides very high thermal stability but is diffi cult to use both in fi bre coating and in compound production. PA845 is much easier to process, and provides high thermal stability, although not as high as polyimides such as HP1632,” explains Brink. Owens Corning has introduced its FoodContact chopped-strand glass, designed to meet the new EU PIM requirements and to be used in consumer appli- ance and food manufacturing products. “While this solution was developed to help our customers meet the EU regulation, we see broader application globally as it relates to sustainability and the general safety of food and water,” says Zirkel. “The GMP requirements will hold companies to a greater level of accountability across their entire supply chain.” Meanwhile, the automotive industry in the last several

years has focused on reducing volatile organic com- pounds (VOCs) and odours. Recent work has shown that, while the resin and its additives can be VOC contributors, the fi bre sizing, despite its low level, can also contribute to VOCs. Sizing producers are addressing this. There is also a demand for sizing products without alkyl phenol ethoxylate (APE), a surfactant that is a potential endocrine disruptor and is restricted in some markets. APE has already been phased-out of its largest market in detergents. The use of bioplastics in long-term, high-perfor-

mance applications continues to grow, but typical bioplastics frequently need to be reinforced in order to achieve the properties required. Natural fi bres are often considered for such applications because they do not detract from the percentage of bio-content, and new bio-based fi bre reinforced products are being intro- duced. Evonik, for example, recently launched Vestamid Terra HS and Terra DS rayon-fi bre reinforced, bio-based PA compounds. The rayon (synthetic cellulose) fi bres are produced from wood residues and are claimed to offer improved reinforcing properties compared to conventional natural fi bres, some of which also have problems with odour in the end product. Natural fi bres, however, are not typically able to

achieve the same property improvements as glass fi bres, making glass a better option for some bioplas- tics applications, notes Udo Erbstoesser, representative for Lanxess, which is in the process of increasing capacity at its Antwerp glass fi bre plant by 10%. To meet the trend for “eco products”, Lanxess recently began offering milled fi bres based on recycled glass fi bres.

Sustainability initiatives Similarly, a new product from fi breglass company 3B is milled fi bre MF 01 ER (which stands for ‘eco-responsi- ble’). It is the fi rst product in a new generation of milled fi bres made from glass valorising material, which is a manufacturing by-product. The milled fi bre product provides cost-performance values between mineral fi llers and standard glass reinforcements. Its reinforce- ment and fl ammability performance is said to enable it to be used in thin-walled electrical and electronic applications, as well as areas such as automotive and consumer goods. Another way to make fi bre reinforcements sustain-

January/February 2013 | INJECTION WORLD 29

Michelman is developing

fi bre sizings that meet emerging


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