Fantastic Plastic For The Win

Jon Lawson

With the race now on to make everything lighter, suppliers are busy adding to existing composite product lines. Here’s some of the latest news, from Juliet Elliot

The growth in EV technology has led BASF to create a new thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) from its Elastollan range. Dubbed R 2600 FHF, the new material is designed as an overmoulding for metal busbars carrying current to the electric motor. The company says it’s more resistant to thermal cycling due to optimised thermal linear expansion. It is formulated to behave more like copper than conventional plastic, with the goal of reduced cracking as the temperature fluctuates. Additionally, it is a halogen-free flame retardant, achieving the classification UL94 V-0.

BASF has incorporated it into its simulation system, as Dr Thomas Bayerl from BASF’s performance materials division notes: “Like several other Elastollan grades, this new Elastollan can be simulated by our Ultrasim tool. We use this tool to support our customers in the design of components. As a result, production steps can be saved and the full potential of the material can be utilised.”

Future Vision

On the automotive safety front, Dow has just launched Silastic MS-5002 mouldable silicone. It’s aimed at the adaptive driving beam (ADB) market which the company believes is set for growth.

Mark Bradford, global segment leader for lighting at Dow says: “As regulatory approval for adaptive driving beams expands worldwide, demand for these cutting-edge, responsive headlights is growing. To help manufacturers ramp-up production of high-quality, sustainable optical lenses for ADBs, Dow has developed a specialised mouldable silicone that reduces weight compared with glass, and lowers the energy required to produce each part. Silastic MS-5002 mouldable silicone enables faster throughput, sharply reduces production downtime and helps prevent surface degradation from mould fouling. We’ve also built a global ecosystem for ADBs, including regional technical centres and a network of moulders, to support customers that choose our mouldable silicones.”

Recycle, Reuse

The environmental credentials of composites are improving. Cannon Ergos and Boeing are working together on an interesting project where they are examining the feasibility of using recycled carbon fibre (rCF) for the fabrication of aircraft cabin interior sidewall panels.

Mattia Andolfatto, project manager R&D at Cannon Ergos explains: “For several years, together with sister companies Cannon Afros and Cannon Tipos, we have successfully undertaken numerous projects that offer new life to recycled carbon fibre. By combining various technologies and production processes tailored for each application, we have been able to effectively process recycled carbon fibre, whether impregnated with diverse resins or already integrated within a thermoplastic matrix. The project with Boeing demonstrates the viability of fabricating interior sidewall panels with high-performance thermoplastics reinforced with recycled carbon fibre.”

Sticking with the theme, CompPair and Composite Recycling are collaborating to see if it’s possible to create useful material from old boat hulls. The pair are working on a new formulation that is also self healing. The partners are currently testing a combination of Composite Recycling’s recycled glass fibres with CompPair’s healable resin, to produce a healable recycled prepreg.

Marine Dreams

Plastic in the sea is a massive problem, and SABIC may have found a way of diverting some of that waste before it gets there, by using it as a feedstock for new material. Sanjay Mishra, GM technology & footprint, specialties, says, “We’re continually expanding our LNP Elcrin iQ portfolio – and the PET waste streams used to produce these materials – to help divert more plastic from the oceans while helping our customers incorporate recycled materials in their products, achieve their carbon neutrality goals and meet consumer demands for greater sustainability.

“Within the next decade, we anticipate upcycling 10 billion plastic bottles into higher-performing, durable materials that deliver enhanced value to customers. SABIC is committed to working with the plastics supply chain to find new solutions to address urgent environmental issues such as reducing ocean-bound plastic waste and achieving net zero carbon emissions.”

The new material the company has created is called LNP Elcrin WF0061BiQ resin and it is billed as a potential drop-in replacement for virgin PBT resins, such as those used in automotive seating and electrical enclosures.

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