Arnitel PB500-H has been approved for use as both dirty and clean air ducts assembled on the 1.3 JTD engines on the Fiat Group Automobiles platforms Fiat Minicargo and LANCIA Epsilon. Dirty air ducts convey the air before the air filter, whereas clean air ducts are situated in the engine between the air filter and the turbo-compressor.
This new blow moulding grade of Arnitel ThermoPlastic Copolyester (TPC) is particularly suited for blow moulding of complex shaped air duct applications in the automotive industry for use at continuous use temperatures (CUT) of 130°C. The new material was developed by DSM Engineering Plastics in conjunction with Fiat Group Automobiles and Tier 1 systems supplier Mecaplast.
Arnitel PB500-H meets the Fiat Group Automobiles technical requirements, whilst at the same time offering a cost advantage over current solutions. According to Fiat, with a hardness Shore D=50 Arnitel offers new design freedom and a range of material properties that facilitate easy assembly and higher tolerances on the final design layout.
Ludovic Poix, Fiat project manager at Mecaplast, says: "Arnitel PB500-H offers good and stable processibility even in achieving complex shapes. The material delivers a superior smooth inner surface with no orange and/or 'crocodile' skin effects. We found it very flexible, over the whole temperature range of -40 up to 150°C. Moreover, Arnitel offers good weldability with PBT fittings/couplings."
Paolo Rossi, Fiat business development manager, explains: "Requirements for under the bonnet (UTB) applications are changing constantly. Environmental requirements, EURO V and VI legislation and the call for reduced fuel consumption have resulted in significant changes, for example the use of smaller and lighter engines with higher turbo pressures and exhaust gas recirculation. As a consequence, automobile UTB components such as air ducts are exposed to continuously rising operating temperatures. With increasingly critical temperature and tougher life time requirements, long-term service life of components made from current thermoplastics can be at risk."
He adds that Arnitel delivers cost efficient solutions for air ducts by combining high performance with cost savings through a single piece solution - while also processing faster and lowering weight.
An all plastic front end
The first Chinese-developed vehicle with an all-plastic front-end module (FEM) using SABIC Innovative Plastics' STAMAX long glass fibre polypropylene (LGFPP) resin was displayed at the recently concluded 14th annual Shanghai Auto Show.
Chang'an Automobile, one of China's largest automakers, featured the all-plastic FEM at the show in a stripped down version of its CX30 model. This major application uses STAMAX LGFPP resin to replace steel, cutting part weight by up to 40 per cent and total vehicle weight by about four kilograms.
In addition to weight reduction for improved fuel economy and lower emissions, the all-plastic FEM solution reduces overall system costs for Chang'an by enabling modular assembly for improved efficiency on its production line.
SABIC says that recent work with Chang'an illustrates its ability to support automotive OEMs as they strive to develop lighter vehicles for improved fuel economy and lower emissions, while also lowering overall costs.
"We take a great deal of pride in having worked closely with Chang'an to advance both the design and production of the new CX30," said Lisa Tang, general manager for China, Automotive, SABIC Innovative Plastics. "This project exemplifies the technical competency of our team in China and the ability to apply our expertise to help automotive OEMs innovate and take advantage of opportunities for reduction in both weight and cost by using our STAMAX LGFPP resins."
In addition to the front-end module - which fully integrates the radiator, headlamps, lock bridges and bumper beams - Chang'an's CX30 model uses SABIC Innovative Plastics' Noryl GTX resin for the fuel-filler door or tank flap.
Moulding the part from Noryl GTX resin enables it to be painted online along with the rest of the body in white. Typically, the part must be moulded and painted by the component supplier, which can potentially cause colour mismatches with the body.
The SABIC Innovative Plastics team delivered comprehensive technical support, training, advanced computer analyses and engineering design services on request to help Chang'an meet its goals.
"We are delighted with the support we received from SABIC Innovative Plastics," said Wang Xiao, R&D director of interiors and exteriors for Chang'an Automobile. "Drawing on their materials and application leadership and technical know-how, we achieved significant improvements in quality and productivity. Integrating 22 metal components into one injection-moulded part has greatly simplified the front-end structure of the CX30 model for lighter weight, easier assembling and overall cost reduction. This leap forward, combined with other advancements, helped us to produce high quality, world-class vehicles that will greatly please our customers."
Xiao added: "As a leading Chinese auto brand, Chang'an Automobile continues to invest significant resources in the field of non-metallic materials and in advanced technologies to provide our customers with increasingly innovative and high quality vehicles."
More and more automotive OEMs are using STAMAX LGFPP resins in structural applications because the material delivers high-quality performance that can replace steel, reduces weight and lowers system costs. The resins support the design of semi-structural automotive applications that combine light weight with functional integration, such as front-end modules, door modules, instrument panel carriers, tailgates and seating systems.
Finally, a new Hyperform HPR high performance reinforcing agent from Milliken & Company yields finished parts with higher stiffness and impact resistance but lower weight than talc-filled parts. It also has improved feeding and handling characteristics for compounders and yields whiter compounds - so users can cut back on colour masterbatch.
Hyperform HPR-803i, which is available now in all geographic markets, is intended mainly, but not exclusively, for use in polypropylene compounds. It will be of particular interest in automobile interior applications.
Hyperform HPR-803i can be used to partly or fully replace talc in compounds. It has the same effect on compounds at much lower dosage rates (typically between half and two-thirds lower).
Adam Watson, in charge of marketing for the Hyperform HPR range, says that compounders used to handling talc will appreciate the improved flow characteristics of the new grade.
Case studies recently carried out on automotive interior trim parts have demonstrated that use of Hyperform HPR-803i enables production of parts that weigh as much as 20 per cent less than talc-filled parts but have a better balance of stiffness and impact strength.
Furthermore, the parts have a surface finish that is not only better out of the mould but is also more resistant to scratching.
While the initial target for Hyperform HPR-803i was PP injection moulding compounds for auto interiors, Watson says Milliken and its partners are continuing to find new uses. For example, moulding trials with a steam iron base plate showed Hyperform HPR-803i increased productivity compared to a talc-filled compound and yielded parts with lower warpage.
Customers have also done successful trials with foam materials as well as with extruded sheet. Hyperform HPR-803i can be used in extrusion blow moulding applications and with thermosetting resins, too.
Shorter cooling time
Watson notes that trials carried out on compounds containing Hyperform HPR-803 have already shown that it is possible to produce parts with a shorter cooling time, and hence a lower overall cycle time, than with talc. This advantage is retained with Hyperform HPR-803i.
Furthermore, test parts demonstrated excellent performance under thermal stability performance testing.
Recycled material exhibits little loss of mechanical properties, unlike glass-filled compounds. Wear on equipment is reduced at all stages of processing.
"Our development programme is ongoing," says Watson. "Partners we have worked with so far have appreciated the ability of this new additive to improve processing and in-use performance at reduced cost.
"We are now working with processors and end-users to identify and develop more applications that will provide benefits along the process chain."