With its Durethan and Pocan compounds, LANXESS' Semi-Crystalline Products business unit is one of the world's leading suppliers of polyamide 6 and 66 and polybutylene terephthalate. To provide customers with even more effective support, it has now opened a Material Testing Center (MTC) at its Dormagen site in Germany. The testing equipment installed in the new center can be used to determine the material data for the most important load scenarios for thermoplastic materials, such as their fatigue, crash and creep properties. “An accurate knowledge of the material properties is essential if full use is to be made of the new simulation tools developed for the mechanical design of high-performance parts. We want to provide our customers with these data for their ongoing projects. We also need the data to support development partners with own calculations and simulations for our new HiAnt design methods, such as nylon composite sheet hybrid technology,” explained Dr. Marcel Brandt, the center's technical manager.
State-of-the-art testing machines
One of the highlights of the fully air-conditioned MTC is a state-of-the-art, servo-hydraulic machine for fatigue strength testing. The tensile and compression tests can be carried out with a maximum force of 25 kN over a wide frequency range. Furthermore, a temperature chamber also makes it possible to cover a very wide range of temperatures. The unit is designed to allow the testing not only of very stiff materials such as highly reinforced polyamides and nylon composite sheet, but also of flexible materials such as polyamides for automotive charge air tubes. The machine is also equipped for high-speed tensile tests that cover the range of strain rates of relevance for the automotive industry. “We can, for example, measure high-speed data for thermoplastic systems that are used to manufacture such parts as airbag housings and truck bumpers,” said Brandt.
A further highlight is a new testing machine designed for tensile, flexural, shear and compression tests in a force range that also permits the testing of high-strength materials such as long glass fiber-reinforced nylon composite sheet. The tests can be carried out in a climatic chamber over the entire temperature and humidity range needed for automotive applications.
Precise optical evaluation of tests
A considerable amount of money has been invested in optical 3D measuring technology in order, for example, to be able to precisely evaluate high-speed tensile tests and track the local strain distribution on the specimens. The available measuring systems utilize a high-speed camera that can capture 7,500 images a second as well as a 3D camera system. “This system can also be used for part testing when we want to analyze the cyclical deformation of under-the-hood hollow parts in the pressure variation test, for example,” said Brandt.
The MTC also has a 3D CNC system with which specimens can be manufactured from semi-finished and finished parts with utmost precision. This investment is intended primarily to enable the team to determine the anisotropic behavior of fiber-reinforced plastics, which – particularly in combination with hybrid technology– have considerable potential in lightweight construction applications in the automotive industry. After refitting, the system can also be used for systematic bonding tests. “We are thus responding to the recent trend in which plastic oil pans are glued rather than bolted to the transmission or engine block,” continued Brandt.
Plans for further expansion of the MTC
A creep test machine for creep and relaxation tests will soon join the other equipment in the MTC. The material data determined in these tests will be used primarily to predict the long-term deformation behavior of parts under mechanical and thermal load. “We can, for example, predict by computer simulation whether a polyamide oil pan will remain oil-tight in long-term service,” said Brandt.
Engineering expertise to serve the customer
The services offered by the MTC form part of the HiAnt service and know-how package with which the Semi-Crystalline Products business unit supports customers along the entire development chain for a plastic part. “The HiAnt competence brand pools the full range of expertise we have developed in materials, composite technologies, simulation methods, part testing, processing and manufacturing,” said Brandt.
LANXESS (lanxess.com) is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 7.1 billion in 2010 and currently around 16,100 employees in 30 countries. The company is at present represented at 47 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals. LANXESS is a member of the leading sustainable indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) World and FTSE4Good.