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EconCore will unveil the latest developments in its thermoplastic honeycomb core production technology at NPE2018 on 7-11 May in Orlando, Florida, US.
The Belgian company, which licenses its ThermHex technology around the world for production of polypropylene (PP) honeycombs and sandwich materials, will also provide information on its capabilities to enable production of honeycombs in high performance thermoplastics. A further development enables the integrated production of ‘organosandwich’ – honeycomb cores with continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastic skins.
Fynotej, based in Mexico City, is EconCore’s first North American licensee to focus on automotive applications and several interior parts made from its products will debut on the EconCore booth. Fynotej went into production earlier this year with a range of honeycomb sandwiches for automotive interiors, including the trunk space. These products, PP honeycomb boards branded Fynocore, have a PP honeycomb core with skins – thermally bonded in-line – in either solid PP sheet or also including a nonwoven surface finish.
“Fynocore products combine our expertise and experience in nonwovens with EconCore’s ThermHex honeycomb technology,” says Daniel Kalach, VP of Manufacturing at Fynotej. “They fit very well with automotive market trends: they are recyclable, moisture inert, conversion is clean and fast, parts are high in performance but low in weight, and, most of all, costs are competitive. We are excited to be able to offer these innovative products to our customers throughout North America.”
Kalach says Fynotej is already looking at high-volume non-automotive applications that will also benefit from the performance advantages of PP honeycomb panels, in particular building and industrial applications.
Tomasz Czarnecki, COO at EconCore, says the start-up of the Fynotej production line is a significant step forward for lightweight thermoplastics honeycomb composites in the North American automotive sector.
“It is one of the latest additions to our network of licensees, which now spans Europe, Asia and North America, covering applications not only in automotive, but – depending on the evolutions, potentially also in commercial transportation, building and construction, reusable industrial packaging and more,” he states.
Czarnecki also highlights another EconCore licensee in North America, Wabash National, a producer of semi-trailer and truck bodies.
“The combination of thermoplastic honeycomb core with metal skins is another example of the versatility of the EconCore technology,” he says.
PP and beyond
EconCore has now broadened its focus to high-performance thermoplastic (HPT) honeycomb core materials and sandwich panels.
“The high speed continuous technology has been proven to be a logical fit for high-volume applications using commodity thermoplastics,” says Czarnecki. “Now we are extending its capabilities to produce honeycomb cores in engineering plastics, including modified polycarbonate, polyamide 66, polyphenylene sulphide (PPS) and others.”
EconCore has already produced and tested honeycombs in several HPTs at its recently-refurbished R&D facilities in Leuven, Belgium. It will present the latest developments in these materials at NPE2018.
HPT honeycombs will build on the intrinsic benefits of lightweight honeycomb structures, adding improved heat resistance (useful for such products as housings for electric vehicle batteries) and very good flame resistance (critical for building panels). EconCore is also working with materials modified for FST (flame, smoke, toxicity) compliance in railway and aerospace applications. It sees substantial potential in photovoltaic (PV) panels and numerous other products.
EconCore is readying a variant of the ThermHex technology for production of PP honeycomb cores thermally bonded between skins of PP reinforced with continuous glass fibres. These organosandwich materials are said to offer an outstanding ratio of stiffness to weight and can be converted into final parts – in-line if desired – using quick and efficient processes such as thermoforming and over-moulding. Compared with conventional composite and metal-based solutions, they are reported to offer superior lightweighting potential and important cost benefits.
Image provided by EconCore
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