Solvay Launches New Thermoplastic Lightweighting Materials for Aerospace

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 8. June 2015


They keep coming—advances in thermoplastic composites, and the degree of their success in ‘unseating’ traditional thermoset composites, metals and metal alloys in major markets such as aerospace and automotive appear to be very much linked to key industry partnerships.


Take Solvay Specialty Polymers, for instance, which late last month send out a press release on its launch of “Tegralite Thermoplastic Lightweighting Solutions to Improve Time and Cost Efficiencies in the Aeronautics Industry”, with three alliance partners.  I quickly scrambled to find out what these “solutions” might be exactly because Solvay, in my humble view, is quite the company in terms of advanced materials’ innovation. I was nicely rewarded with clarifications to my questions, helped along by a hard-working account executive at a very reputable marketing communications firm. So, let me share:


Q: Are these foamed materials?


A: Tegralite is not a specific material but describes a new family of semi-finished thermoplastic lightweighting materials for aerospace applications that Solvay Specialty Polymers develops and commercializes together with its alliance partnersAonix Advanced Materials, JSP, and 3A Composites, including foams, composites and sandwich materials manufactured out of Solvay’s extensive portfolio of polymers.


            Product examples include Tegracore PPSU foam (formerly Radel foam) that have found use in the cabin of the new Airbus' A350 widebody jetliner  and Stemme AG's new S12 motorglider, and thermoplastic sandwich materials made of Tegracore and sulfone-based prepregs manufactured by Aonix. Such sandwich materials have been used recently, for example, in a new generation of highly damage resistant and tolerant airline service trolleys.


 To sum up: With Aonix, Solvay is propelling the development of innovative high- and ultra-performing prepreg systems as well as new sandwich materials and structures. Its partnership with JSP, pioneer of three-dimensionally molded expanded polypropylene (EPP) foamed parts, opens up fast and easy access to 3D foam parts, a technology already widely used in the automotive sector. And, its alliance with 3A Composites makes available for the first time and in large quantities a new generation of aerospace foams. This is all further complemented by Solvay’s range of functional and decorative films.


Q: Is this the first commercialization of new materials that utilize Aonix’s prepregs made of unique amorphous thermoplastics as we have reported previously?


A: Sandwich materials made of Tegracore PPSU and Aonix prepreg have been commercially introduced only lately. For example, in the June 2015 issue of Aerospace Manufacturing magazine, we describe this new generation of airline service trolleys that can best be described as “non-electric fridges on wheels”. The same technology concept can be applied to many other systems in the cabin because Tegracore PPSU resists Skydrol (Eastman Chemicals’ fire-resistant aviation hydraulic fluids). Also, Aonix’s prepregs have been finding additional uses beyond aerospace.

Q: Is this materials technology transferable to automotive, other transportation, and non-transportation applications?

A: A priori yes! That said, today our focus is to roll out our business in a very controlled manner…to not over-promise and under-deliver to our customers. Another thing to add is that rather than extrapolating our technology to automotive, we try to do the opposite: bring automotive technology to aerospace to overcome decades of long-supply-chain inefficiencies. As an example, we are working closely with JSP to advance their technology from EPP foamed parts to aerospace applications by establishing pathways to three-dimensionally molded PVDF foam parts. As aircraft OEMs and airlines strive to build more planes and create more part-commonality to improve operational effectiveness, this certainly is a very promising way to go.


Q: In this initial push, what “heavier plastics” (as noted in the press release) and which metals would the Tegralite materials replace?


A: We see a trend to replace big molded plastic parts by lighter composites. Also, we receive requests to replace aluminum structures. Details are confidential.


Q: Anything on cost that can be said--from upfront costs to processing, energy and/scrap savings?


A: Tegralite sandwich materials can win on multiple ends:


• Compared to incumbent honeycomb-based sandwich structures, they economize on labor costs for primary and secondary operations to make parts. The savings are greater the more complex parts are—such as S-shape panels vs. flat panels. This opens up new avenues in making mass-customized parts.


• The completely thermoplastic nature of these materials further opens up avenues related to on-board repair (e.g., on-board welding) in contrast to incumbent thermosets.


• In short, costs can be cut both in part making and in reducing costs of maintenance. Note that 3D molded PVDF foam parts allow for the production of integrated parts without scrap—i.e.; the fly-to-buy ratio is 1. In general, we assist our customers in cost studies and quantify the benefit of our materials.


Q: Anything else that can be said at this point about Tegralite materials?


A: Tegralite is a growing family of products that will be released step-by-step as they become market ready and application proven.


Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastics Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.




Solvay's Advanced Thermoplastics To Star In Polimotor 2 Car Engine

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 31. May 2015


While it’s taken 25 years to remerge, work on an all-plastic automotive engine is well underway. In fact, the Polimotor 2 engine will make its debut in a race car next year and several advanced thermoplastics from Solvay Specialty Polymers are an integral part of the design.  The four-cylinder, double-overhead CAM Polimotor 2 engine will be installed in a Norma M-20 concept car that will compete at the 2016 racing of Lime Rock Park, Conn.


First, a bit of history. Some of you might remember hearing about Polimotor 1 back in the late 80s--a joint project of New Jersey-based Polimotor Research and Ford Motor. Although that engine was never installed, the ambitious project resulted in an engine based on Ford’s 2.3-liter Pinto engine and weighed 153 lbs vs. 415 lbs for its then cast iron counterpart. It comprised metal cylinder sleeves, metal combustion chamber tops, metal piston crowns, bearings, valves and seats, and a stock 2.3L Pinto crankshaft. Nearly everything else—including the block, rods and piston skirts—were made of Torlon PAI (polyamide-imide) then made by Amoco Chemical and now one of Solvay’s key advanced polymers.


Fast forward to Polimotor 2: Solvay is aiming for an engine that will weigh 138 to 148 lbs, or about 90 lbs less that today’s standard production engine. Of course, the company is hoping that this development will translate to further innovation for future commercial cars. In their press release, Solvay noted that at least ten engine components—including the intake manifold (plenum), air duct (runner), cam sprockets, throttle body, water pump, oil pump, and fuel rail—will be made of at least seven of its materials.


In my recent inquiry, Solvay officials offered some further details starting with this: “Polimotor 2 is the evolution of Polimotor I where new polymers and technologies will be introduced that were not commercially viable in the 1980s. Additionally, Polimotor 2 uses carbon-fiber reinforcement while Polimotor 1 used fiberglass reinforcement. Polimotor 2 takes several cues from Polimotor 1 including the return of the four cast combustion chambers and the four machined cylinder bores which are mechanically incorporated into the engine.” 


My sources also noted that Solvay’s global leadership in automotive has had a long history of supplying high-performance polymers which improve powertrain efficiency, enable electrification, and reduce vehicle emissions. They list the following polymers offered for this project, Torlon PAI, Amodel PPA, Ryton PPS, Radel PPSU, AvaSpire PAEK, KetaSpire PEEK, Tehnoflon FKM, Technyl PA66, and additive manufacturing materials Sinterline and Technyl Powders. They say they will provide more detailed information on the specific components as they are designed and a final material selection has been made. Some new materials and technologies will also be highlighted by the company as the Polimotor 2 engine design progresses.


Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastics Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.




The 2015 SPE Research/Engineering Technology Award Nicely Goes To...

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 29. May 2015

Having served on the SPE Automotive Division board of directors in many roles in the last 23 years, Suresh Shah is the 2015 recipient of the prestigious SPE International’s Research/Engineering Technology Award. Shah was honored for his longstanding contributions to automotive plastics and composites developments at companies like General Motors and Delphi Corp. The prize, which included an engraved plaque and a $2500 honorarium, recognizes outstanding achievements in the fields of plastic research and/or engineering technology and is one of the highest honors to an individual bestowed by SPE.


Throughout his distinguished automotive plastics career, Shah has worked in advanced processes such as gas-assist injection molding, co-injection molding, microcellular molding, hybrid plastic/metal molding, and direct inline-compounded long-fiber thermoplastic (D-LFT) composites. His other work has included materials development involving natural fiber composites, nanocomposites, D-LFT composites, and TPOs and TPEs.


Shah has authored over 70 publications, two of which have won SPE Best Paper Awards at the society’s ANTEC conference, and he holds 44 intellectual properties—27 U.S. patents, 10 defensive publications, and seven trade secrets. In addition, he was inducted as a Gold Level Hall of Fame Innovation Award winner at Delphi for his technical contributions and 40+ intellectual properties in December 2014. He led the development of the SuperPlug door hardware module in 1991—introducing gas-assist injection molding to GM.  For this technology, which has been translated to more than 30-million vehicles worldwide since 1993, Shah received SPE’s Automotive Division’s 2011 Hall of Fame award, and a host of international awards.


In 2009, Shah was named Scientist of the Year by the Engineering Society of Detroit and its 77 affiliate councils, and also received tributes from the governor of Michigan and the mayor of Troy, Mich. In 2003, he received the SPE Honored Service Member award for his contributions to the SPE Automotive Div. Two years earlier, he was inducted as a Technical Fellow in SPE and a year before that he was inducted into Delphi Automotive Systems’ Innovation Hall of Fame—again for his technical contributions to the company.


In 2000, his work on TPO skin formulations for GM’s Pontiac Bonneville sedan won the SPE Automotive Div.’s Interior Product innovation award. In both 1996 and 1998, Shah was nominated for the Boss Kettering award at GM for his efforts bringing innovation into production that has significant impact on corporate profit. And in 1997 he was given GM’s Presidential Council Honors Award.


Other technologies he worked on that won awards include the SPE Automotive Div.’s Body Interior category for the NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc.) assist grip handle in 1991, and SPI’s Award of Excellence for a composite window guidance channel in 1990.


Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastics Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.





Top DuPont Award Goes To Flex-Rigid Mono-Material Container

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 26. May 2015



When DuPont announced the winners for its 2015 Awards for Packaging Innovation, it noted that this year’s competition will be remembered as the year of design since 77% of the winners were honored for design excellence in enhancing the users’ experience. “This year’s winners stand out as leaders in packaging innovation. They exemplify how collaboration, innovation and packaging excellence converge to generate game-changing solutions that positively impact our lives,” said William Harvey, president of DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers.


This is certainly exemplified by the winner of the Diamond Award, the program’s highest honor. It went to Canada-based IPL, Inc. for its design and production of SkinnyPack, a salsa container for Ana’s Foods of Austin, Texas. Honored for excellence in technological advancement, responsible packaging, and enhanced user experience, IPL’s new hybrid flexible-rigid, mono-material container is allowing Ana’s Foods to be a standout on store shelves, and the technology certainly has potential for other applications. Through their collaborative effort, Ana’s Foods replaced its rigid salsa containers with the unique new package.  


IPL’s SkinnyPack is an injection molded PP container that is made by fusing a thin, flexible in-mold label (IMLO film to a sturdy, rigid frame. The process reportedly ensures that a strong adhesion exists

Between the film and injected plastic, allowing the packages to remain sturdy and strong throughout production, filling, transport, distribution and consumer use.


The lightweight, thin-walled SkinnyPack uses 54.8% less plastic than the original containers. The mono-material-material packaging structure makes the container 100% recyclable. Prior to use, the empty SkinnyPack is nestable to maximize warehouse space. After use, SkinnyPack can be easily crushed to optimize space during the recycling process. On each salsa package, Ana’s Foods communicates their commitment to sustainability with their consumers:  “Tub made with less plastic for a greener world.”


Meanwhile, the package’s design differentiate itself on store shelves. The high-clarity film windows offer a look inside to give consumers confidence in the product prior to purchase, and the in-mold labeling offers high-resolution for high-impact shelf appeal. The package’s round mouth offers easy access to the product while the square edges of the bottom provide better grip and handling. The unique square-round (squround) shape of the container ensures distinction on store shelves while also providing ease for food manufacturers to adopt the new package. The squround shape is compatible with most current packaging equipment, whether it is for square or round containers.


Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastics Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.




In-Situ Nucleated PP Rivals Conventional Nucleation

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 19. May 2015

A new technology for polypropylene nucleation just might be a game changer. We were recently contacted by Borouge, the joint venture between Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Austria’s Borealis regarding this apparently breakthrough technology.


Since its founding in 1998, Borouge has become a leading innovative polyolefins supplier serving plastics processors in 50 countries across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Daniel Van Houcke, lead application development engineer, explains that the new nucleated PP is based on the Borstar Nucleation Technology (BNT) which was developed with the help of their new Borouge Innovation Center in Abu Dhabi.


What should be of particular interest to PP injection molding processors is that the nucleating effect of BNT is obtained in the polymerization reactor (in situ), and boasts numerous advantages over the standard approach of adding a nucleating agent during pelletization. These include: a robust and consistent nucleation effect; higher and faster crystallization temperature; inertness and low taste and odor; and, reduced impact of colors or shrinkage of the material.


Borouge has launched the first BNT-based grade--fully compliant with food-contact regulations BorPure HJ311MO--for use in such applications as confectionary packaging, microwaveable containers, take-out food containers, media cases, and houseware containers. Field tests comparing this material to a conventionally nucleated PP grade showed the following significant benefits for processors and/or end users:


• >10% improvement in flow leading to better processability


• >10% reduction in cycle time—mainly through reduction of cooling time and easier demolding due to faster crystallization


• >10% reduction in processing temperatures leading to lower energy consumption


• >10% improvement in Charpy impact performance


• Significant improvement in organoleptics (taste and odor)


• Less breakage (waste) due to enhanced impact


• Microwaveable and reusable  


A lower carbon footprint is also claimed for the new PP achieved by cycle time and energy reduction. “With the drive for sustainable innovation supported by proprietary Borstar technology and our advanced research capabilities, Borouge is committed to add value to life by shaping the plastic materials of the future,” says product development manager Balakantha Rao Kona.


According to Kona, the new Innnovation Center serves as a focal point for innovation in the polymer development and application technology. With over 70 professionals and technicians from 20 different countries, the Center is designed to provide value-added plastics for customers worldwide, focusing on the infrastructure, automotive, and advanced packaging industries. This investment includes extensive laboratory and application pilot resources. Product development focuses on high-performance, cost-effective, and differentiated polymer solutions that ensure the success of Borouge customers throughout the value chain while also helping to address some of the major global sustainability challenges. The Borouge facility also collaborates with the European innovation centers of Borealis, local and international educational institutions, and many key industry players.


Initially, processors interested in the new BNT-nucleated PP can contact Kona at: The material, which is now being produced commercially and which has been tested at various processors with excellent feedback, according to Kona, can be expected to be made available in the near future via Borealis (U.S. office is in Port Murray, N.J.).


Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastics Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.


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