Reinforced technopolymers

June 26, 2015

Reinforced technopolymers replacing metals

Metal replacement, i.e., replacement of metals with techno polymers and composite materials.

PA6 Akulon reinforced polyamides, PA66 Zytel Tecnyl, PA12 Rilsan PA46 Stanyl semiaromatic polyamides Ixef Grivory, PPS reinforced Ryton Primef Fortron, PEEK Vitrex, PSU, PES, LCP, reinforced with glass fiber, carbon fiber, Kevelar arammide fibers.

How to tell whether or not it is possible to replace a metal component with a so-called plastic component?

The answer is not simple but we can get there through simple steps. First we need to redefine the minimum characteristics ( specifications ) including right margin of safety, of the component we are thinking about and in particular: stresses, dimensions with tolerance, operating temperatures working environment, and with this data in hand compare with appropriate partners).

A golden rule is to forget about looking for the same metal characteristics and focus on what different and incremental things we could achieve. At this stage we normally need to be willing to revise the design of the component and rework the design without excluding pleasant surprises.

If we exclude a good portion of cases where materials engineers would be wary of thinking about the polymer component, very often the component is metallic "just in case," because of low initial runs, or more simply out of habit or lack of inclination to innovate.

The engineering polymers and composites available to the designer can offer, for example, high stiffnesses ( up to 20,000 MPa) with specific weights of no more than 2 g/cm3 and therefore light weight, and, for example, operating temperatures in a range from - 40 to 220 degC. Another peculiarity is that they can make complex shapes in a single transformation (however technical) so as to justify the cost of a mold in lieu of onerous machine tooling.

Finally, strengths include chemical resistance even as trivial corrosion resistance, soundproofing, thermal insulation and electrical insulation characteristics. The more details and functions we can integrate into our component, the easier it will be to find the point of convenience of the operation.

At this point we can further broaden our gaze and horizon by imagining metal-plastic integrations where metals are left with the essential and irreplaceable details but at the same time build a bridge to rubbers and the wide field of thermoplastic elastomers that are moldable in a paired and complementary way to impart differentiated performance to different parts of the component ( gaskets, soft touch, hinges etc).

It may seem trivial, but if we think of automobiles 40 years ago, plastics did not reach 10 percent of the vehicle's weight, and today they travel toward 40 percent, having improved the product's overall performance tremendously. Aware of the pitfalls of poor application of even excellent materials, it is important to precede each realization with adequate process simulations and structural analyses that take into account the specifics of the products themselves. In conclusion, the application of composite technopolymers is indeed an important opportunity for the realization of innovative products, but a scientific approach is needed.

To do this, in a national context of small and medium-sized enterprises, it is very appropriate to forge collaborations and partnerscip so that through a network of players, from the manufacturer, to the supplier transformer of the materials, to research centers and producers of the materials, a virtuous collaboration is established.

Bear Plast is ready to support you in the realization of your innovative projects bringing more than 40 years of achievements in multiple sectors and a network of relationships and "nerve connections" of the first level.

Bear Plast S.r.l

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