Cruising with polyolefins
W hile the PT Cruiser's looks may hearken back to another automotive era, the 2001 model hits the streets with some of the most advanced automotive polyolefin technology going. And according to Bruce Denison, applications engineering manager for Solvay Engineered Polymers (Auburn Hills, MI), the Cruiser signals just the beginning when it comes to thermoplastic polyolefins, or TPOs. "Things are really starting to take off," he says.
DaimlerChrysler's Cruiser is chock full of new polyolefins, starting with the front and rear bumper fascias. Molded from Solvay's SEQUEL 1140, these thinwall bumpers represent one of the first applications to combine molded-in-color, a metallic look, partial painting, and a weight- and component-reducing thinwall geometry. Denison says the material that could meet all these requirements had to achieve a difficult balancing act: It had to offer UV resistance, which Solvay achieved with a proprietary additive package. It had to have a flexural modulus of roughly 190,000 psi so that the part could be designed with a skinny 2.7-inch nominal wall thickness. And it had to flow in the range of 18 to 22 g/10 min so that the tool would fill. The PT Cruiser also makes use of another Solvay material, Sequel 1733, for its cowl grill. This material had to provide both UV resistance and a low CLTE.
Looking beyond the PT Cruiser, Denison predicts that molded-in-color TPO use will grow, with metallic molded-in-color alone appearing in more than a dozen vehicles next year. Why the appeal? Denison says plastic in general offers auto makers a shot to differentiate vehicles on aesthetics at a relatively low price tag. "Automakers want the ability to reskin their vehicle every few years, and you can't do that cost effectively in steel," he argues, pointing to the high cost of re-tooling for steel versus for injection molding.
Today, TPOs go up against other plastics in the push to cut cost. Denison reports more applications where Solvay's materials compete against polycarbonate blends. "We can achieve a 25% reduction in cost and weight, while maintaining 85-90% of critical properties," he says, noting that often the TPO can drop into an existing tool built for a polycarbonate blend.
New materials will likely go a step further and do an even better job of beating out sheet metal, Denison predicts. In particular, he says, watch out for a new Sequel material that Solvay is now sampling for body panels. With a flexural modulus of 400,000 psi, good cold-temperature resistance, a low CLTE, and an improved impact-stiffness balance, the material inches closer to sheet metal properties without the sheet metal costs. "Reducing manufacturing cost is easy to say," Denison says. "But tough to execute."
Solvay Engineered Polymers, 1200 Harmon Rd., Auburn Hills, MI 48326; FAX: (248) 391-9517.
P recision die cut flame retardant moisture guards from this company are designed for electronic components in telecommunications, computer, appliance, and medical applications. Made of polypropylene, the product has a reported flammability rating of 94V-O and a heat deflection temperature of 250 F. The material is said to prevent arcing between the electronic components on a printed circuit board and a metal cabinet or enclosure.
Presscut Industries, 2908 Commodore Dr, Carrolton, TX 75007; FAX (972) 245-2488.
T hixo(R)molded parts from this company are said to offer engineers flexibility in design and assembly in automotive and other applications. Said to be most effective when the part is designed with the molding process in mind, it can produce parts in a single step operation without binders, resins, or sintering. Reported benefits include lower production costs and better joining of usually incompatible materials.
Thixomat Inc., 620 Technology Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48108; www.thixomat.com .
B aytec(R)MP-210 and Baytec(R)ME-230 from this company are two polyurethane quasi-prepolymers which are said to produce high quality polyurethane elastomers under less demanding conditions than typical hot-cast elastomers. Features are said to include processibility at room temperature and favorable mix ratios. Applications for the product include adhesives, microcellular foams, and in-line skate wheels.
Bayer Corp., 100 Bayer Rd., Pittsburgh, PA 15205-9741; FAX (412) 777-3899; www.bayer.com/polymers-usa .
P ryo-Putty 2400 is a ceramic/stainless steel material designed for patching and sealing exhaust manifolds on the low temperature side of automobile engines. The manufacturer says that the product works where epoxies and silicones have failed when engines temperatures reach 1,500F. The product is inorganic, and is said to be user friendly and able to withstand temperatures up to 2,000F.
Aremco Products, Box 517 707-B Executive Blvd., Valley Cottage, NY 10989-0989; FAX (972) 245-2488; www.aremco.com .
T his company offers a line of blended reference standards for precise calibration of analytical instruments for gas and liquid calibration in hydrocarbons, natural gas, LPG, sulfur, nitrogen, BTEX, and other substances. All raw products are said to be analyzed for purity before blending, prepared on highly sensitive gravimetric balances, and verified by gas chromatograph analysis.
DCG, 4170A Main, Pearland, TX 77581; FAX (281) 648-1895; www.dcgpartnership.com .
X ENOY(R)and AZDEL(R)composites from this company are designed to help automobile manufacturers meet proposed pedestrian protection legislation in the European Union. Incorporated into vehicle bumpers, the material is said to dissipate energy and reduce injuries in low-speed pedestrian/vehicle impacts. The materials are also said to offer light weight, low cost, and good dimensional stability.
GE Plastics , One Plastic Avenue, Pittsfield, MA 01201; www.geplastics.com .
U ni-form(TM)epoxy preforms are available in M17-19 for high temperature resistance and resistance to industrial solvents, including Toluene, Tri-Chloroethane 1,1,1, Xylenes, and others. When used early in the manufacturing process, the company says that the seal protects components from subsequent steps, including soldering operations, solvent baths, and conformal coatings. Solid at room temperature, the preforms melt and cure when heated without mixing.
Multi-Seals Inc. , 540 N. Main St., Manchester, CT 06040; FAX 860-643-5669; www.multi-seals.com .
T his company's Nu-Tride(R)is a ferritic nitrocarburizing process which it says modifies several properties of steel, including fatigue strength, wear resistance, hardness, corrosion resistance, lubricity, and coefficient of friction. When used with the QPQ Process, treated parts are given a black finish with high corrosion resistance, which the manufacturer says is superior to chrome and nickel plating.
Kolene , 12890 Westwood Ave., Detroit, MI 48223-3436; FAX (313) 273-5207; www.kolene.com .
T ri-Flow Food Grade Grease and Oil are for a variety of food industry, automotive, and industrial applications. Said to provide only 1.9% loss per washout, the products withstand 3-4 washouts before reapplication. Products are said to be compatible with most rubbers and plastics, and can be used in gear boxes, bearings, motors, chains, and conveyors.
S tanyl(R)High Flow and Akulon(R)Ultraflow(R)(TM)series nylons are now available for automotive and electronics applications. Stanyl(R)High Flow is made of reinforced, flame-resistant 4/6 nylon, and is said to offer the same flow characteristics as liquid crystal polymers. The product is also said to maintain its dimensional integrity during reflow soldering up to 280C due to its high stiffness at these temperatures.
DSM Engineering Plastics , Box 3333 2267 West Mill Rd., Evansville, IN 47732-3333; FAX (812) 435-7702; www.dsmep.com .
M odified A-286 and NCF 3015 are two high-temperature alloys which offer cost or performance advantages for designers of exhaust systems for cars and trucks. A-286 is said to provide high strength and corrosion resistance at temperatures up to 1,200F, while NCF 3015 is a precipitation hardenable, iron-nickel base alloy which can be used in engine valves and manifold bolts.
Carpenter Technology Corp. , Box 14662, Reading, PA 19612-4662; FAX (610) 208-2776; www.cartech.com .
S tat-Kon(R)M1-HI UV is said to be a high impact, statically dissipative polypropylene plastic for automotive applications. Current applications include fuel filler tube housings in automobiles, in which the product dissipates static during refueling, eliminating the need for a stainless steel ground strap. Features are said to include UV resistance, high strength, and a softer, less shiny appearance than regular plastic.
LNP Engineering Plastics , 475 Creamery Way, Exton, PA 19341; FAX (610) 363-4749; www.lnp.com .
S upergrade TP400 is a coated-carbide turning grade for machining austenitic and ferritic-austenitic stainless steel at high feed rates. The company says that the grade has a type of substrate with high toughness and a wear-resistant multilayered coating, which is said to minimize common wear patterns and provide high strength, elongation, and resistance to both plastic deformation and edge chipping.
Carboloy Inc. , Box 330237, Detroit, MI 48232-6237; FAX (810) 497-5602; www.carboloy.com .
F ive Ancorloy(R)premixed materials are now available from this company for use as high-performance replacements for malleable and ductile cast iron materials. Possible applications for th e material include ring gears, parking brakes, high-performance carriers and bearing caps, and diesel engines. The product is said to provide high ultimate strength, yield, and elongation, which allow the material to match the performance of cast iron.
Hoeganaes Corp. , 1001 Taylors Ln., Cinnaminson, NJ 08077-2017; www.hoeganaes.com .