The Tepex thermoplastic composites from LANXESS are becoming increasingly popular for the lightweight construction of automobiles. Front ends, brake pedals, undercarriage components, seat shells and carriers for infotainment modules, for example, are now being manufactured with continuous-fiber-reinforced composites. This is partly thanks to various HiAnt simulation tools that LANXESS has developed for the design and production of the composite components. The most recent example of this is a new modeling approach which enables to precisely simulate the thermal processes in heated Tepex sheets during and after draping in the injection mold. This new tool once again raises the level of accuracy with which LANXESS can simulate the draping process.
Better sheet geometry
“This enables us, for example, to examine more precisely whether critical component geometries can still be shaped, or whether perhaps fibers would rip or wrinkles would form,” explains Pablo Willms, CAE expert at LANXESS. A further advantage is that the sheet geometry for the target component can be determined more accurately beforehand. “This means that fewer trials are required. The processor benefits from savings in terms of both time and cost,” Willms continues.
The new modeling approach has so far been designed for Tepex dynalite 102-RG600, which is well established in its use for structural components in automobiles and contains 47 volume percent of continuous glass fibers in the form of bidirectional layers. LANXESS is working on expanding the usability of the simulation tool to include Tepex with unidirectional or multi-axial layers of continuous fibers.
Seat shells more than 30 percent lighter
One great example for the potential use of thermoplastic composites is for automobile seat shells. Overmoulded Tepex inserts can be used as substitutes for metal reinforcements such as sheets and bars, enabling weight savings of well over 30 percent. LANXESS has tailored compound materials such as Durethan BKV 55 TPX for these kinds of applications. “The polyamide 6 reinforced with 55 percent short glass fibers is tailored to Tepex. It is extremely free-flowing, tough and stiff, and is therefore particularly suitable for thin-walled composite lightweight components with large flow path/wall thickness ratios,” says Willms.
Extremely strong and tough, easy to form
The success Tepex-based thermoplastic composite hybrid components have enjoyed so far is primarily due to the savings potential both in terms of component weight and production costs. The advantage Tepex has over metals is that it can be shaped in the injection mold (in-mold forming), overmoulded and at the same time functionalized in a single automated process step so that no further finishing is required. In comparison with thermoset composites, Tepex provides high levels of stiffness and strength at lower densities. The particular advantages of Tepex include its high strength, favorable impact behavior, excellent formability and its recyclability.
LANXESS (lanxess.com) is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.3 billion in 2013 and about 16,700 employees in 29 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 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 sustainability indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI World and DJSI Europe) and FTSE4Good.