March 5, 2018
The omnipresent plastic is something that no one can imagine life without. Recognising this need for the lightweight material, Lanxess’ high tech plastics Durethan, Pocan and the composite material Tepex help various industries to make longer lasting products, especially in the automotive manufacturing sector.
Offering a light solution for heavy problems, the characteristics of plastics can fulfill the demand in this sector. There are about one billion cars in the world with experts speculating the number to double by 2050. This means that fuel consumption, environmental pollution and congestion will continue to increase. Therefore, cars must become more economical and more environmentally sustainable. One way to accomplish this is to decrease vehicle weights. The lighter a vehicle is, the less fuel it uses, and the less CO2 it gives off.
Light, high-performance plastics today are so stable that they can replace heavy metals in automotive construction. In addition they are rust-free and flexibly formable, which allows for the implementation of new design concepts and better integration of other components and functions.
The Tepex brand thermoplastic fiber composite materials are not only used in gliders, but also in automotive construction, among other things. Because of their continuous fiber reinforcement, such as with glass, carbon or aramid fibers, along with their low density, they are outstandingly well suited for light construction. For example, air bag housings made of thermoplastic composites can be made much thinner without curtailing rigidity and strength. These housings are about one-third lighter. The weight of car seat shells can also be distinctly reduced with Tepex inserts as compared to steel construction. For example, the Opel Astra OPC has a car seat shell manufactured using hybrid construction with a thermoplastic Tepex composite reinforced with continuous fibres.
Besides Tepex, Lanxess has Durethan brand polyamide (PA)-based plastic compounds and Pocan brand polybutylene terephthalate (PBT)-based industrial plastics in its product line. Durethan types are used in the automotive industry in various products, such as air intakes, door handles or receptacles. The plastics reduce the weight of certain structural components by as much as 50 percent compared with metal. Thus they contribute to increasing fuel efficiency.
One example is the front-end module carrier of the Skoda Octavia. It consists of a Durethan brand fiberglass-reinforced polyamide from Lanxess. Compared to the few all-plastic front end module carriers available until now, the upper cross bracing of the component is made entirely without reinforcing metal sheets. The weight of the front-end module carrier can thereby be reduced by 1.2 kg compared with alternative concepts.
Pocan is a leading material in the electrical and electronics industry. It has insulating properties and is heat-resistant and very stiff. Thus, for example, the screw-in bases of modern energy-saving light bulbs are made of fiberglass-reinforced Pocan. Additional applications include parts of clothing, plugs and housings for electronic components. Lanxess is developing flame-retardant Pocan and Durethan types for the electrical market. They must reliably meet the tightened regulatory requirements for safety. The use of halogen-free flame-retardants in particular will play a big role in the future.