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At its site in Brilon, Germany, Bond-Laminates has commissioned two new production lines for Tepex continuous-fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites.
“We have increased our capacity for manufacturing Tepex by around 50 percent and, in doing so, are responding to the strong demand in the mass production of highly stressable components for lightweight vehicles and consumer electronics,” says Dr Christian Obermann, Managing Director of Bond-Laminates. To accommodate the expansion from six to eight production lines, a new hall covering around 1,500 square meters was constructed. The total investment ran to the mid single-digit millions and also comprised three cutting machines, including a new four-head waterjet cutting machine for prefabricating component cuts.
Lightweight structural construction of high-performance parts
Tepex is becoming increasingly popular in the automotive industry for the large-scale production of lightweight structural components such as frontend and bumper brackets, brake pedals and underbody paneling components. One recent example involved two electrically adjustable single rear seats for a variant of the Audi A8, whose seat shells are manufactured in a hybrid moulding process using the polyamide-6-based Tepex dynalite. The seat shells are around 45 percent lighter than a comparable metal version.
Huge potential in electric vehicles
LANXESS also sees potential for Tepex to be used to produce backrests and armrests as well as seat shells for new, highly complex seating concepts in autonomous cars or for comfort seats for shuttle, VIP and family buses. Electric vehicles offer further attractive potential for Tepex. “The spectrum of applications ranges from brackets for frontends, doors and bumpers, luggage compartment recesses, battery housings and brackets for electrical and electronics modules through to structural components in the ‘greenhouse’ section and structural trims in the underbody area to protect the battery,” says Henrik Plaggenborg, Head of Tepex Automotive at LANXESS.
Typical applications of Tepex in consumer electronics include the thin-walled yet exceptionally strong and rigid structural components for cell phones, tablets, laptops and TVs – components that also have to meet strict aesthetic requirements regarding design and haptics. In the sports sector, Tepex is used for example in the manufacture of shoe soles, bicycle components, ski boots, body protectors and helmets.
High Performance Wheel Solution
LANXESS recently launched the new system Adiprene LFM C525 cured with Vibracure 2101 developed for the most challenging wheel applications.
This MDI polycaprolactone based prepolymer offers excellent performance and great dynamics such as high tear strength, outstanding fatigue and abrasion resistance. To demonstrate the performance and reliability of this differentiated system to the market, LANXESS undertook testing comparing the material with the highest industry standard utilised in polyurethane wheels.
Proven performance and value creation
Adiprene Low Free (LF) MDI C525 is a polycaprolactone based prepolymer with a level of free MDI less than 1%. When cured with Vibracure 2101, the system delivers a 96 Shore A material. Lower hardness elastomers are also possible with variants of Vibracure 2101. Tests were carried out at different loads, speeds and wheel geometries and followed ISO industry standards. In conclusion the system has proven to perform as good as the highest performance industry standard, delivering great dynamics but also a lower rolling resistance allowing energy savings. In addition to the excellent performance Adiprene LFM C525 prepolymer is easy to process, requiring on average 16-24 hours at 115-120 °C post cure time, and it is stable at room temperature for ca. 36 month.
A differentiated low free MDI based solution
This PU system is a unique LANXESS solution, whereby the LF isocyanate technology facilitates the use of this differentiated curative. The LF technology avoids the ‘starring’ effect which creates ‘star’ shaped crystals within the elastomer due to curative precipitation. Along with easier handling and excellent performance, the LF technology also brings unsurpassed health and safety conditions to the processor.
A complete solution for the wheel industry
Understanding the complexity of different wheel applications, LANXESS has developed other LF MDI polycaprolactone systems based on different curative combination allowing to reach hardness from 88 to 96 Shore A. Through many years of technical experience related to PU formulations specific to wheel applications, LANXESS has developed a predictive wheel model tool, that will predict with good accuracy the wheel performance within the final application. Therefore LANXESS can support its customers in evaluating Adiprene LFM C525 in different wheel designs and/or different load/speed conditions.
Image provided by Lanxess
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