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DESIGN IDEAS


 The strong, lightweight and cost-effective honeycombing process lends itself to the production of such vehicle parts as luggage compartment floors and many other instances of plastic panelling


LIGHTWEIGHT HONEYCOMB FOR HYBRID PRIUS PHV


Design and development continues at in- the-news Japanese automotive OEMToyota, which has adopted an interior part using honeycombmaterial for its newhybrid model Prius PHV launched earlier this year. Based on ThermHex thermoplastic


honeycomb core technology developed by EconCore, the part is used in the boot cover of the car. Itwas achieved using technology licensed fromEconCore by Gifu Plastic Industry fromJapan. Due to its combination of strength, rigidity and ultra-lowweight, the honeycomb deliversweight savings of 50 per cent comparedwith previous conventionalmaterial set-ups based on metal. Furthermore, the versatility of the


technology allows direct lamination of thermoplastic skins aswell as other facing layers (including for instance composites andmetal) onto the thermoplastic honeycomb core to offer lightweight sandwich panels suitable for different applications. Gifu Plastic started to use the ThermHex


process tomake thermoplastic honeycomb products for packaging and logistics applications. Recently the company has extended to automotive interiors,where light, rigid and easy to thermoform honeycomb corematerials have attracted interest in Europe and North America.


FOLDED HONEYCOMB ThermHex is a continuous process for the production of thermoplastic honeycombs integrated with in-line lamination of skin layers, by successive in-line operations, either directly from the extruder or from a roll of material. The versatile technology allows direct lamination of thermoplastic skins, as well as other facing layers (including for instance composites and metal) onto the thermoplastic honeycomb core to offer lightweight sandwich panels suitable for different applications. The core is produced froma single sheet


by a thermoforming, folding and bonding operation. ThermHex honeycombs have closed skin strips, allowing perfect bonding of skins onto the core. The process enables the cost-efficient production of honeycomb cores fromawide range of thermoplastic polymerswith a large variation in cell size, density and thickness. In-line post-processing to panels and parts leads to further cost reductions.


The range of polymers includes


PP (Polypropylene), PE (Polyethylene), PS (Polystyrene), PET (Polyethylene terephthalate), PA (Polyamide), PC (Polycarbonate), ABS (Acrylonitrile- butadiene-styrene), PPS (Polyphenylene sulfide) and PEI (Polyetherimide). Due to the efficient process, the resulting


sandwich panels are not only exceptionally strong and lightweight but also very cost- effective. EconCore has licensed the technology to several companies operating within packaging, automotive, furniture, building and transportmarkets. “The efficiency of the patented


continuous ThermHex process enables the naturally optimised honeycomb structure to be brought tomore cost-sensitive applications, ultimately replacing heavier sub-optimal designs,” says Jochen Pflug, CEO of EconCore and inventor of the ThermHex technology. In combinationwith different skin


materials, EconCore honeycombs offer a wide range of application possibilities. Low production costs enable other honeycomb cores and homogeneous panelmaterials to be substituted. In development projects panels and parts


are being designed for the packaging, automotive, transport, building & construction and furnituremarkets. Boards are especially applicable to reusable plastic boxes and solutions in the logistics sector, such as for durable and hygienic plastic


pallets and layer pads, dividers and protection panels, outperforming conventional corrugated plastic boards and PP cup-shaped (bubble) panels. Sandwich panelswith ThermHex


honeycomb cores are especially suitable for the following automotive interior components:  luggage compartment floor and spare wheel covers;


 door panels/door inserts;  seat back stiffeners and compartment dividers;


 cabin floor and underfloor systems; and  overhead systems (enhanced sounds absorption with an open cell honeycomb structure). Continuously produced honeycomb


sandwich panels offer opportunities in the transport segment, including applications such as delivery truck boxes, pick-up truck boxes, trailers and cladding panels in trucks, vans and trains. Higher temperature resistant thermoplasticmaterialsmeet the needs of exterior applications,while FST or fire resistantmaterials are suited for use in themass transport segment. PET non-wovensmay be laminated onto


the ThermHex core to enable processing with thermosetmaterials.


 To readmore online in ourmaterials section, scan the QR code or visit https://goo.gl/eTBVDK


October 2017 /// Environmental Engineering /// 7


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