Specialty chemicals company LANXESS is actively participating at this year’s VDI “Plastics in Automotive Engineering” conference in Mannheim under the slogan “Teamwork Energized by LANXESS”. The company's presentation of its high-tech plastics Durethan and Pocan focuses on an extensive package of services for customers with the new brand name “HiAnt.” “We want to underline the great benefit to the automotive industry of our engineering expertise in materials, design, manufacturing methods and application technologies when it comes to developing lightweight, energy-efficient and safe motor vehicles for sustainable mobility," explained Ralf Zimnol, head of Application Development in the Semi-Crystalline Products business unit.
Efficient one-shot process
One part of the exhibition focuses on nylon composite sheet hybrid technology, which offers considerable savings potential in numerous structural automotive components compared to solutions based on metals, such as steel or aluminum. Novel side impact and bumper beams manufactured by this lightweight construction method, both made of polyamide 6 from the Durethan family, will be on exhibit. “These demonstration pieces prove that hybrid components of this kind can be manufactured efficiently in a single processing step, and that the components’ characteristics are calculable using integrative simulation,” explained Zimnol. Until now, the polyamide nylon composite sheets, reinforced with continuous fibers, were draped separately, reheated in a second step, placed in the injection mold and there provided with polyamide reinforcements. The nylon composite sheet now is formed directly in the injection mold, shortening and simplifying the process, and reducing the investment in molds. The two components were engineered together with partners in the SpriForm Project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), including not only LANXESS, but also Audi, Bond-Laminates, KrausMaffei Technologies, IVW Kaiserslautern and Jacob Plastics.
Load behavior can be accurately predicted
In the project, one of the tasks given to LANXESS was to establish the principles for developing nylon composite sheet hybrid components by means of simulation. The company has since succeeded in linking the simulation of the forming process with the mechanical structural analysis. “As the two demonstration components show, we can precisely describe the non-linear, anisotropic material behavior of the nylon composite sheet using integrative simulation, and thus design the corresponding hybrid components to withstand the expected load,” said Zimnol.
High-tech thermoplastics for electric powertrains
Another topic at the LANXESS stand is new variations of Pocan and Durethan for electric and hybrid vehicles. “We see good application opportunities for our materials in lightweight structural components, but also in the area of the battery and in electrical/electronic components, such as housings and connectors,” Zimnol added. For example, hybrid technology based on polyamide 6 can be used to efficiently manufacture battery trays in lightweight design, replacing metals such as steel or aluminum. For components like battery covers and housings for power electronics, LANXESS already has custom thermoplastics that are electromagnetically shielded either by metallization (e.g. with aluminum) or additivation to make them electrically conductive. Furthermore, flame-retardant electronic components made of plastic will play an important role in electric powertrains. LANXESS markets a broad range of flame-retardant polyamides and PBT grades for this segment, which already are in use in the electrical/electronics industry. To exemplify the diverse applications in the field of electromobility, LANXESS will be including a power connector for electric cars in its exhibition in Mannheim.
LANXESS (lanxess.com) is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 7.1 billion in 2010 and currently around 14,850 employees in 24 countries. The company is represented at 45 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.