Rising to the demand for lighter, stronger materials

Paul Boughton

<p>(As the Korean and Asian markets continue to expand rapidly, SABIC Innovative Plastics has announced that it is to open a major production line at its Chung-Ju facility in Korea. </p><p>The new line will produce the LNP Verton long glass fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites that are widely used across the burgeoning automotive, telecommunications, and appliance industries in Asia. The company&rsquo;s continued investment in new production facilities such as the LNP Verton composite line is designed to provide customers with a local source of innovative product solutions and technological expertise.</p><p>By providing customers with local production and resources, the company aims to slash delivery times for LNP Verton composite grades. Local material production can help customers reduce time to market for a competitive advantage, especially in the fast-moving telecommunications and electronics sectors. </p><p>&ldquo;We are demonstrating our ongoing commitment to faster and more responsive customer service by investing in this new production line,&rdquo; said Alan Leung, the company&rsquo;s Pacific president. &ldquo;It will enable us to quickly supply manufacturers and molders in Korea and Asia with our popular LNP Verton composites. These high-performance materials are in great demand as superior replacements for metal and short-fibre-reinforced plastics. We believe easier access can help customers develop and market innovative applications for greater business success.&rdquo;</p><p>The LNP Verton production line, which began operating in March, will run 20 grades of the composites in a variety of resin systems including polypropylene, poly amide and PPA. The new line significantly expands the Chung-Ju facility, which was originally opened in 1989. </p><p>The Chung-Ju plant houses a 40 000-tonne high-tech manufacturing system, material properties testing equipment, and colour-matching equipment to meet customer requirements. The plant develops colours and materials through Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma; the latter is a business improvement methodology that combines tools from Lean Manufacturing for speed and Six Sigma for quality. The result of all this, says the company, is the highest-quality service with strict quality management &ndash; to ISO 9002 and ISO 14001.</p><p>LNP Verton thermoplastic injection molding compounds are designed to offer high strength and are said by the company to be an excellent metal-replacement option. Produced by a novel pultrusion process, they combine rigidity and resistance with &ldquo;excellent&rdquo; resistance to impact failure.</p><p>As such, they should help customers to save on total cost and increase productivity. For example, according to testing done by SABIC Innovative Plastics&rsquo; technology team, mobile phone makers could achieve up to a 30 per cent cost savings and a 30 per cent increase in productivity by replacing the magnesium or other metal used for internal parts of sliding-type mobile phones with LNP Verton composite. Other benefits include weight reduction and design flexibility.<br /><br />Fibres for surgery</p><p><br />Nederlands-based DSM has chosen the World Biomaterials Congress in June to launch a new grade of its high-performance Dyneema Purity polyethylene fibre portfolio that offers the same high specific strength as existing grades at significantly thinner diameters. </p><p>This new product was developed specifically to help medical device manufacturers design smaller, lower-profile implants for minimally invasive surgical procedures without sacrificing strength and durability. </p><p>Expansion of the Dyneema Purity product portfolio is the latest of example of the company&rsquo;s strong commitment to the biomedical market. Through materials innovation and ongoing collaboration with medical device companies, DSM is firmly focused on enabling medical device companies to develop new clinical approaches that improve patient outcomes, including shorter recuperation times and less scarring. </p><p>The new product, Dyneema Purity TG dtex 25 TS180 grade, offers a number of advantages over traditional materials. According to the company this includes an exceptional high tensile strength that enables manufacturers to develop lower-profile yet strong implants that support the trend towards and benefits of minimal invasive surgery. Dyneema Purity TG also provides pliability, smoothness, a low coefficient of friction and fatigue and abrasion resistance. The product has been fully and successfully tested according to ISO standards for genotoxicity, cytotoxicity, sensitisation/irritation, haemocompatibility, pyrogenicity and mutagenicity.</p><p>&ldquo;Today&rsquo;s minimally invasive procedures demand new instruments, technologies and materials, particularly thinner and smaller surgical devices and implants,&rdquo; said Carina Snijder, business manager medical for DSM Dyneema. &ldquo;DSM is playing an important role in developing and improving advanced materials that allow medical device companies to develop more minimally invasive procedures.&rdquo; </p><p>The company&rsquo;s Engineering Plastics division has also been busy, with the addition of Arnitel C to its line of copolyester thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs). DSM describes its latest TPE as a breakthrough technology for wire and cable coating, delivering the best high-heat aging performance of any TPE-E, combined with halogen-free flame retardance and hydrolysis resistance that surpasses other copolyester elastomers. It is designed to meet the stringent performance and compliance needs of today&rsquo;s automotive designers.</p><p>&ldquo;As auto designers try to fit more and more components into a fixed space, it becomes critical to improve wire and cable coating flexibility and reduce mass and weight,&rdquo; said Francis Aussems, DSM Innovation programme manager. &ldquo;Additional under-the-hood content is also leading to rising temperatures that require improved heat resistance. We developed Arnitel C specifically to meet these needs. In addition to exceptional performance, our new recyclable, halogen- and plasticiser-free TPE helps OEMs and tiers meet environmental regulations.&rdquo; </p><p>Kromberg und Schubert, a German manufacturer of cables and wires for automotive and industrial applications, has already selected Arnitel C for under-hood, temperature class D coating applications. The company&rsquo;s single-wire and multi-core cables benefit from the excellent abrasion, wear and chemical resistance of Arnitel C. Spokesman Heinz Paul from Kromberg und Schubert commented, &ldquo;Due to a unique combination of heat stability and excellent abrasion resistance, Arnitel C affords for the first time an opportunity to design automotive wires with ultra-thin-wall insulation for under-the-hood applications.&rdquo; <br /><br />An airline solution</p><p>One of the world&rsquo;s leading producers of lightweight, cross-linked, closed-cell block foams has won a major contract from Boeing. </p><p>Zotefoams, which uses a novel nitrogen expansion technology to manufacture its high performance polymers, has been working with Technifab to develop applications for the aerospace industry using its ZOTEK F PVDF. Now the two have won a five-year contract from Boeing for a fabricated gasket application used on the 737 aircraft.</p><p>Technifab is the designated aerospace licensee of Zotefoams that converts the basic PVDF foam into various part configurations, including insulation tubes, gaskets, seals and other specialty aerospace components. The Zotefoams PVDF foam is an exceptionally light, flame retardant material that carries a Boeing material specification. </p><p>&ldquo;We believe that this contract demonstrates the benefits of Zotefoams&rsquo; strategy of partnership with key customers in developing tailored solutions for specific sectors. The forecast demand from this programme further underpins our confidence in the market for ZOTEK high-performance products,&rdquo;noted Zotefoams md David Stirling.<br /><br /></p>