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thermoplastic composites | Technology Tracking the shift in front end design

The shift from plastics/metal over- moulded hybrid front ends to fully thermoplastics versions began pretty soon after the first hybrids appeared, in part due to Bayer having such a strong patent position. Dow’s solution, a long glass fibre reinforced polypropylene moulding adhesively bonded to a steel reinforcement part, was used around ten years ago by Volkswagen for its Polo.

BASF developed the “collar joining”

system, in which plastic and metal parts are formed separately and then joined together by mechanically pressing a collar protruding from the metal component into the plastic component— but there appear to have been few takers. Then last year, Lanxess—the inheritor of Bayer’s hybrid technology—announced

included Gummiwerk Kraiburg (TPE), Hennecke (liquid processing components), and Lanxess (polyamide), as well as Engel and others. Cycle times are in the region of several minutes. This is way off the target of one minute at most for automo- tive applications. Egger says this is a good starting point, but cycle times of under two minutes are unlikely in the foreseeable future. You can only reduce the reaction time so much before polymer properties begin to suffer, he says. So if this technology does go commercial, it is likely to be in niche applications, where it provides the most cost-effective way of making a TPC part, and where speed is not of the essence.

Materials companies are piling in Numerous polymer suppliers are active in thermoplas- tics composites development. Apart from BASF and Lanxess, these include DSM, DuPont, and Solvay. As indicated earlier, DSM is involved in the LIPA

project, and is also one of the founding partners in AZL, the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Produc- tion, which will develop automated production of load- and cost-optimized lightweight components suitable for mass production and versatile process chains in composite and multi-material design. At K2013, DSM showcased two applications in

advanced thermoplastic composites. The first was a Type 34 INJECTION WORLD | January/February 2014

that the front end carrier of the latest Skoda Octavia was entirely made of a 60% short glass fibre reinforced polyam- ide 6. The component was engineered by Tier One Faurecia (which was also the producer of the original plastic/metal hybrid). “We wanted to…eliminate the complicated handling and shaping of sheet metal,” said

Pascal Joly-Pottuz, head of development for the carrier component at Faurecia. Although the polyamide is quite dense

on account of its glass fiber content, the component is nevertheless very light. “Compared to a virtual carrier we designed from a standard polyamide 6 with 30% glass

fibers, it is about 1.2 kilograms or 25% lighter,” says Boris Koch, a structural components expert at Lanxess. The good flow behavior of the material allows for walls as thin as 1.8 mm in some areas, according to Lanxess.

The front end carrier of the latest Skoda Octavia is made entirely of a 60% short glass fibre reinforced polyamide 6 from Lanxess

IV full engineering plastic pressure vessel based on a liner in Akulon Fuel Lock (a grade of polyamide 6 with high barrier to fuel emissions) and a fibre-reinforced thermo- plastic wound tape based on Akulon. This development exhibits significantly reduced weight compared with metal pressure vessels, as well as extremely low permeation. The second was a concept in-mould-formed housing cover, made in a combination of a continuous glass reinforced EcoPaXX polyamide 410-based composite and an injection molded EcoPaXX compound. DuPont says it is working with automakers and tier

one component manufacturers on developmental projects using TPCs for structural or load-bearing components, such as seat structures, lift-gates, cross members, bumper beams and suspension systems. It cites work with PSA Peugeot Citroen on testing a side impact beam using its Vizilon developmental TPC technology. The Vizilon beam is 40% lighter than a beam in ultra-high strength (UHHS) steel, and absorbs more energy than metal and short glass-fibre polymer beams. Vizilon outperforms polypropylene-based composites above 80°C, the company points out. Patrick Ferronato, Thermoplastic Composites

Business Director, says DuPont TPC technology “offers a holistic approach — an approach which includes design, materials and processing—all working together to take out weight.”


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