Plastic Heat Sinks for LEDs “Shine” for Two Lighting Component Manufacturers

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 19. May 2016

PolyOne’s Therma-Tech compounds prove their mettle replacing aluminum as an LED heat sink.


Here’s my second of a three-part installment to PT’s blog on interesting information that did not get into our upcoming June cover story: New Materials Shine Bright in Growing LED Market (read the first part on LED opportunities in automotive and street lighting). PolyOne, Cleveland, Ohio gets the space here with a focus on two case studies where its Therma-Tech thermally conductive formulations, which utilize proprietary additives and various engineering thermoplastics, proved a smart option for two European lighting manufacturers.


Savvy plastics suppliers who are leading in the LED materials arena have been striving to replace the traditional highly-conductive die-cast aluminum heat sinks in LED luminaires. This in addition to their advancements in other key LED areas such as lenses, optics, reflectors, housings and sockets. The metal heat sinks represent a substantial part of the cost of LED luminaires. Material suppliers believe that the use of plastic heat sinks would prove beneficial for the vast majority of LED luminaires, as they can reduce assembly costs , increase design freedom and consolidate parts. In the two PolyOne case studies, this certainly proved true.


Kruunutekniikka Oy of Finland, an injection molding contractor with expertise in lighting components, knew that it could provide manufacturers of heat-sensitive LED products with improved manufacturability and performance by producing non-metal heat sinks at scale. Company product engineers came up with specifications that called for thermal conductivity in plane from 4 to 21 W/m.K (in compliance with ASTM E1461; glow wire resistance of 850 C/0.8mm (IEC 606095-2-12); and enough dimensional stability to allow it to be overmolded directly on LED components. The next step: find the right material.


PolyOne Therma-Tech LED heat sink


Kruunutekniikka’ design engineering team collaborated with PolyOne in looking at potential options before developing a material that combined two grades of Therma-Tech thermal management compounds, both based on high-temperature nylons. The formulation was tested and phased into production, with the Kruunutekniikka Coolics brand quickly adopting the material throughout its line of customized LED cooling systems. The material added immediate benefits including: complex designs at lower costs than metal; lighter weight; inherent corrosion resistance; adaptability for ingress protection up to IP67; high-heat resistance; compliance with UL94-V0 flammability standards; and options for either electrically conductive or insulating properties.


The overall impact of this collaboration on Kruunutekniika included: a cost saving of more than 10%. Contributing factors: the Therma-Tech formulation required 37% less material due to its lower density; and substantial savings were realized during high-volume production thanks to a switch from die casting to injection molding, as well as elimination of secondary steps needed to achieve net shape with die casting. Startup times also were reduced. The company also cited that production scrap from the injection molding process can be fully recycled as part of an in-line process, helping it to meet its sustainability goals.


Mars Otomotiv, a Turkey-based maker of lighting for the global auto and transportation industries had built a good segment of its thriving business since 2004 around LED products. However up until a couple of years ago, they were sourcing their die-cast aluminum heat sinks from a sub-supplier, which required Mars to do secondary work, including removal of flash, drilling holes and surface treatment to prevent corrosion. Use of a supplier for the parts also led to unexpected costs and shipping delays, created logistics challenges and tied up stock and working capital.


Mars engineers collaborated with PolyOne to explore non-metal options. They eventually settled on Therma-Tech TT6600-5001EC, based on nylon 66 as the best choice to provide comparable heat dissipation. Still, they faced the significant hurdle for retooling costs. Mars owned the tooling used to form the metal heat sinks, and wanted to adapt the existing mold to accommodate the new material. Working with PolyOne’s technical team, Mars engineers were able to alter the mold so it could process the thermoplastic. They completed the metal-to-plastic transition in less than four months, bringing production in-house while essentially using the same tooling.


Today, Mars Otomotiv benefits from the simplified logistics of molding heat sinks in house, including reduced order lead time, improved on-time order completion and more working capital.  The thermal dissipative performance of the thermoplastic heat sink is equivalent to that of the aluminum, even the highest-power HB LED model, which provides 27 total watts in nine HB (high-brightness) LEDs. Specific gains include: 39% reduction in the weight of finished assemblies; 50% increase in the number of molded heat sinks produced each day; 20% reduction in the total cost to produce each heat sink, and elimination of secondary finishing operations.  


Look for more material developments for the LED lighting sector in  PT’s June issue, including PolyOne’s brand new premium light diffusing sheet UltraTuf LED (below), which can transmit between 80-90% of light while still effectively diffusing the LED points of light across the lens.


Read Part I of Lilli's LED Series—LSR for Street and Auto LED Lighting


Read Part III of Lilli's LED Series—LSRs, PPs and PCs for LED Lighting


Search for more of PolyOne’s Therma-Tech materials in PT’s materials database.


PolyOne light-diffusing sheet UltraTuf LED

LSR Developments in LEDs for Automotive and Street Lighting

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 16. May 2016

LSR’s resistance to UV light and high temperatures allow direct contact to LED, while low injection pressure allows overmolding of sensitive parts.


The materials feature in our upcoming June issue discusses the latest developments in LED lighting materials and how savvy material suppliers have been adapting to this rapidly evolving technology. Since I could not fit everything I wanted to into the article, I’m taking the opportunity here to share some of the interesting things that didn’t make the cut in three blog installments.


The first two involve case studies: this one on Momentives’s clear LSR lens and optics developments, and the next one on PolyOne’s ThermaTech thermally conductive compounds in LED heat sink applications. A third will highlight new materials for the LED lighting sector from Trinseo and Wacker.


Momentive Performance Materials Inc., Waterford, N.Y., is among the leading suppliers of LSR that have seen the potential for their materials to play a major role in the ever-expanding LED lighting sector where applications now range from interior and exterior illumination; automotive and transportation lighting; backlighting for TVs, computers, phone displays; and signs and billboards.


The two case studies below exemplify Momentive’s advances in automotive and street lighting as relayed by HeeSeok Hwang, senior global project manager. As Hwang summed it up, “The typical properties of ultra-clear LSRs enable totally new functions for LED applications. LSR’s UV-light and high-temperature resistance allow direct contact to LED; low viscosities and low injection pressures allow overmolding of mechanically sensitive inserts; and the LSR-injection process enables ultra-precision shaping of microstructures. Taking this and thinking toward the future, Momentive has taken an additional step to improve the efficiency of lighting technology through LSR.”



Automotive Lighting:

Together with partners in the industry and supported by national means of Germany’s major research organization Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, a team of Momentive LSR specialists has started to work on a new injection molding process to overmold a LED chip with Momentive’s Silopren LSR7080HP LSR. The objective is to combine primary and secondary optics in one component to reduce assembly, improve efficiency, and to downsize the complete lighting component. The project involves analysis of optical performance, molding precision, and the bond strength between the LED board and the LSR as well as long-term properties.


The molding of microstructures on the surface of the LSR lens will be also be tested. Momentive is working with Germany’s Hella, a producer of automotive headlamps and lighting equipment, the IKV institute of plastic technologies; and Austria’s Elmet, a manufacturer of high-precision LSR molds and injection molding equipment. To date, it has been demonstrated that the overmolding process can work without the use of any bonding agent, correspond to the simulation, and not show any optical defects. Endurance tests of the combined primary and secondary optics are ongoing and promising.


Street Lighting: 

Momentive’s next-generation Ultra Clear Silopren LSR grade combines Ultra Clear LSR technology with a specialty polymer technology, enabling luminaires to be equipped with high flame retardance above UL 94 flame class rating for V-1. Momentive has been working with global experts in the lighting industry such as Italy’s Khatod Optoelectronic, a leading manufacturer of optical solutions. “This application is very technical and Khatod was searching for a material able to comply with the various optical, mechanical, and molding process requirements needed for the realization of unique, high-performance optics,” said Dieter Wrobel, corporate fellow at Momentive. After and in-depth analysis and numerous laboratory tests, Khatod determined that Momentive’s Ultra Clear Silopren LSR 7000 series was an ideal match for this applications.


Khatod recently used Momentive ultra-clear LSR in SIO3 silicone lenses. There lenses are said to represent a breakthrough in LED lighting technology and are the world’s first range of free-form lenses made of LSR which are optimized for the most popular HB (high-brightness) and COB (chip-on-board) LEDs. “Khatod is a real innovator in the LED lighting industry. Our SIO3 lenses boast cutting-edge engineering and exclusive cold runner-based LSR injection molding process specially customized by Khatod for optical silicone processing. This innovative construction process preserves and enhances the typical characteristics of silicone and makes the lenses excellent for any application in LED lighting requiring excellent lighting performance as well as a robust long life, safe and reliable service,” said Giuseppe Vast, president of Khatod. Khatod’s  new SIO3 silicone lenses recently won the LED Magazine’s SSL Enabling Technologies Sapphire Award, which highlighted the most inspirational and innovative products in the LED marketplace. 


Read Part II, Plastic Heat Sinks for LEDs “Shine” for Two Lighting Component Manufacturers


Read Part III of Lilli's LED Series—LSRs, PPs and PCs for LED Lighting


Search LSRs in PT’s Materials Database.

Chinese Manufacturers of XPS Boards ‘Under Fire’

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 10. May 2016

Banned fluorinated blowing agents and highly toxic flame retardants found in Chinese imports.


Joe Webster, president of consulting firm Stabilization Technologies, a long-time industry friend and well-known technical expert in plastics additives, alerted me to “Chinese Boards Fail Further Tests”, a recent news item that appeared in UK’s Builders Merchants Journal.


It appears that the investigation on imported XPS cored tilebacker boards began in March, when three global leading brands provided test information to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the chemicals incorporated in Chinese XPS boards. The brands are Germany’s Wedi (U.S. headquarters in Carol Stream, Ill.) and Jackoboard (sold in North America by Schluter Systems, Plattsburgh, N.Y.), and New Zealand’s Marmox (sold through distributors in U.S., Europe, and Australia).


That information showed that the imported boards contained fluorinated blowing agents (e.g., CFCs, HCFCs) banned in Europe and North America due to their harmful effects on the environment. Moreover, the tested boards also incorporated a highly toxic flame retardant at quantities also banned in Europe.


After extensive reporting of these test result, one Chinese manufacturer produced a copy of a test report that purportedly showed that their products were free from the banned chemicals.


But, Wedi, Jackoboard, and Marmox aimed to remove all doubts and submitted further samples of the imported boards to two leading independent European testing laboratories. The new results compounded the earlier findings that the imported XPS boards contained blowing agent gases which have been banned for fourteen years plus four times the permitted level of a toxic flame retardant.


Due to the sensitive and ongoing nature of this investigation, brand names of boards “under fire” have yet to be named. 


Learn the Latest on Materials & Applications for Auto Thermoplastics Composites

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 9. May 2016

Ford, BASF, Borealis, PlastiComp, Asahi Kasei, Arkema, Covestro, Sigmatex, and the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada will present on traditional and ‘hybrid’ carbon-, glass- and natural-fiber reinforced composites, including systems based on polyolefins, PC, liquid reactive resins, bioplastics, and more.


Want to keep abreast on the latest developments in automotive lightweighting enabled by thermoplastics composites? Do so by

registering for our second presentation of “Thermoplastics Composites for Automotive” (TCC Auto2016) conference on June 15-16 at the Suburban Collection Showcase in Novi, Mich. TCC Auto2016 is presented by Plastics Technology magazine and CompositesWorld, sister publications within Gardner Business Media, and will be concurrent with the Ameriomold 2016 show and conference, presented by Gardner’s MoldingMaking Technology magazine.


Our first unique conference, TCC Auto2014, was a standing-room only event, with over 250 attendees. At next month’s event, over a day and a half, we’ll present 22 speakers on topics in Applications & Materials and Machinery & Processes. Expect TCC Auto2016 to provide cutting-edge information on lightweighting, cost reduction through automation, and new approaches to automotive production for injection molders and composites fabricators.


Materials & Applications will present nine speakers on the first day, starting with a keynote address Driving Innovations and Trends for Next Generation Automotive Composites by Cynthia Flanigan, Ford Motor Co. Here is a brief look at the other eight presentations in this category that are featured on the first day:


New Automotive Lightweighting Applications Using Carbon- and- Glass-Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastics, Mark Minnichelli, BASF. As automotive OEMs continue to drive forward to meet new CAFE requirements, the value of removing mass from vehicles continues to increase. New innovative thermoplastic materials and processes involving use of carbon fiber and glass fiber are being developed in order to remove mass from vehicle components while maintain needed performance requirements. Several new automotive applications involving these new materials will be shared.


Fibremod Carbon: An Economical, Lightweight Solution for the Automotive Industry, Sanjay Patel & Tobias Allmendinger, Borealis Group. Borealis, a leading provider of innovative solutions in the field of polyoefins, has developed “revolutionary” carbon-fiber reinforced PP grades based on its proprietary Fibremod technology. This leading-edge technology portfolio already has a proven track record in achieving weight reduction in many automotive applications with the Fibremod series of long- and short-glass PP compounds for the automotive and appliance industries, launched in 2013. This added Fibremod Carbon innovation is expected to help the automotive industry to reap the benefits of carbon-fiber-reinforced thermoplastics such as outstanding density-to-weight ratio, allowing for significant weight reduction and increased functionalization and modularization of components. The excellent economic efficiency of the Fibremod Carbon portfolio will also promote the more widespread use of this potentially revolutionary material in the mass production of automobiles.


Lower Carbon Fiber’s Cost to Entry Barrier with Long-Fiber Hybrids, Eric Wollan, PlastiComp, Inc. Lightweight carbon-fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites are of increasing interest to the automotive community for their ability to reduce vehicle mass along with associated fuel consumption and emissions. The high price point of carbon fiber presents a barrier to its widespread adoption in the cost-sensitive automotive industry without innovative implementation options. Compounder of long-fiber thermoplastic compounds PlastiComp has developed hybrid long-fiber reinforced thermoplastics composites that combine long glass fiber and long carbon fiber together in a single composite pellet for processing via injection molding. This approach reduces the volume of carbon fiber necessary to obtain higher mechanical performance materials and allows cost-effective long-fiber hybrids to bridge the price gap between all-glass fiber and all-carbon fiber composites.


With most automotive components that can benefit from conversion to long glass fiber composites already accomplished, the industry is in need of more robust thermoplastic material solutions to continue switching more components from metal to structural plastics. Long-fiber hybrids are the ideal segue technology to begin the process of adopting lighter weight carbon fiber as a substitute for metals in components that require performance beyond long glass fiber capabilities. Wollan will present comparative mechanical property data and cost information to explain the performance and economic advantages hybrid long glass and carbon fiber thermoplastics composites offer to the automotive industry.


Bi-Modal Long-Fiber Technology Provides New Enhancements for Structural Composites, J.P. Wiese, Asahi Kasei Plastics. Various automotive components have utilized long-glass PP products for applications that require a balance of structural strength and excellent impact performance. Thermylene I, the latest innovation from Asahi Kasei Plastics, is a bi-modal long-fiber thermoplastic (LFT) that continues the trend of the replacement of costly high-performance engineered compounds for additional weight and cost advantages over traditional LFTs. Weise will present new developmental data pertaining to the development of glass-reinforced compounds, covering dimensional stability, weight, and a balance of properties.


Liquid Reactive Thermoplastic Resins for Automotive Applications, Dana Swan, Arkema. As automotive makers strive to meet tighter government standards (CAFE standards 36.6 mpg by 2017 and EU CO2 emission levels 95 g/km by 2020), the explosion of composite materials is increasing. Lightweighting of automobiles with thermoplastics composites brings the advantages of high technical performance, part consolidation, and recyclability of the scrap and final parts. However, technical limitations around processing of traditional thermoplastics has hindered adoption of thermoplastic composites in the industry. Recent developments of a range of liquid reactive thermoplastic resins, marketed under the Elium trade name, has alleviated some of these challenges, Recent research and development in the processing of the resins for automotive applications will be described, Processing methodology include infusion, RTM and HP-RTM.


Developments in Continuous Fiber-Reinforced Thermoplastic Composites Using Polycarbonate, Paul Platte, Covestro. With increasing demand for lightweighting solutions, thermoplastic composites based on PC resins are a growing alternative to metal or other plastics composite options that target vehicle interior and exterior applications. A new class of thin, lightweight continuous fiber PC composites is under development and will advance composite solutions for the automotive and transportation markets.  Continuous fiber PP composites offer designers and engineers high stiffness, impact strength, dimensional stability and class-A surface quality for first-surface and semi-structural applications.


Target automotive applications of door panels, body panels and seat backs have potential for over 40 percent weight reduction compared with aluminum. For commercial buses or heavy trucks where durability and lightweighting are valued, applications such as interior and exterior panels are also envisioned. Additionally, these new continuous fiber PC composites have potential to offer high yield rates and lower coating expense for a manufacturing cost advantage. Designing with thermoplastic composites brings unique challenges not typically seen with traditional metals or unfilled polymers. Designers must have a good understanding of the dimensional and aesthetic capabilities afforded by the continuous fiber PC composite structure.


To consider composites in any semi-structural application, design engineers must be able to accurately predict the part’s performance under static or dynamic structural loads. Manufacturing engineers must be able to anticipate limitations in part design, tooling and forming that may arise which impact the economical production of complex, three-dimensional, high-surface-quality components. Platte will discuss innovations in continuous fiber PC composites, and highlight the progress toward solutions that address the design and manufacturing considerations for application development.


A Healthy Diet for Automotive Materials: Lightweighting Through Green Thermoplastic Composites, Karen Stoeffler, National Research Council (NRC) Canada. Despite the drastic decrease of oil prices, automotive manufacturers are still under pressure to develop new technologies allowing for the reduction of emissions. Lighter materials, electrification, alternative fuels and vehicle autonomy are some of those technologies. In this presentation, NRC’s Stoeffler will show you how to design lighter and greener thermoplastic composites meeting automotive cost and performance requirements. The topics will include: Thermoplastic compounds based on renewable resources (biobased plastics or natural fibers) for injection molding applications; structural thermoplastic composites integrating higher aspect ratio natural reinforcements by D-LFT; and, how to formulate these materials and how to process them successfully to reach your requirements in terms of mechanical and thermal performance. Specific topics such as VOC control will also be addressed.


SigmaRF Carbon Thermoplastic Material in Medium-to-High Volume Automotive Applications, Brian Gardner, Sigmatex. The ease of processing a co-mingled carbon thermoplastic material known as SigmRF has been demonstrated in a Sigmatex-led UK Centric Automotive Lightweighting Excellence (LX) Program. Prototype door skins have been produced demonstrating SigmaRF’s capability for medium-to-high volume automotive applications and its tangible benefits of reduced weight, ease of processing, high- volume automotive TAKT time and enhanced mechanical performance over conventional aluminum. The presentation will give an overview of the LX program, the OEMs involved and the role of SignaRF in achieving the objectives. 


Recycling of Plastic Auto Parts Gains Attention Even As It Remains In its Relative Infancy

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 3. May 2016

SPI launches automotive recycling report; separation process key to German start-up’s patented recycling technology.


There is a buzz about automotive plastics recycling these days, and I’ll bet that in the not-so-distant future we will hear about some of the advances being made. Last week I blogged about MBA Polymers starting up what appears to be the first production of PC/ABS pellets derived from shredded WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment).


But the company’s claim-to-fame is its now five-year-old Workshop, U.K. plant, which is reportedly the world’s largest (annual production capacity of up to 176 million lb) and most advanced facility for recovering plastics and rubber from automotive shredder residue. Its proprietary processes reportedly use less than 20% of the energy needed to produce virgin resins.


In a bit of serendipity, other news on this front emerged last week:


 • SPI released its new report, Automotive Recycling: Devalued is now Revalued, which highlights innovative use of recycled content and achievements in zero waste in manufacturing, as well as promoting increased recycling of plastic automotive parts. At the same time, SPI noted the while automotive recycling is leading other industries—with 95% of automobiles recycled at the end of their practical life, the recycling of plastic materials in automobiles, is in its infancy.


SPI sees abundant opportunities for recycled plastic in cars. Each year in the U.S., about 12-15 million vehicles are scrapped with more and more plastic components and parts comprising an ever increasing amount of those vehicles. “There is an opportunity for recycled plastics in the automotive sector, and we are hoping to merge key learnings from all members of the supply chain together to learn how we can best promote and grow plastics recycling in the automotive industry,” said Kim Holmes, SPI’s senior director of recycling and diversion.


To help close the loop in automotive plastics, SPI has two projects underway. First, is the Zero Net Waste (ZNW) recognition program, which assists the plastics industry in managing waste in manufacturing by offering specific tools to evaluate waste reduction opportunities and maximize landfill diversion.


Second, in a separate recovery effort, SPI members have begun a collaborative research project to explore the viability of collecting and recycling auto plastics from end-of-life vehicles and build a basic recovery model for whole parts before shredding. The review will help determine the feasibility of recovery today pared against material performance and demand for recycled PP and TPO. If successful, the project will serve as a launching point to explore the opportunity to recover additional plastics, both through whole-parts recovery and eventually auto shredder residue (ASR).


• The engineering and technical center PulverMetallurgische Kompetenz-Centrum Thale (PMC), located in the German federal state Saxony-Anhalt and globally respected for its expertise in powder metallurgy, is expanding its work to encompass the recycling of automotive plastic waste into high-quality material.  Each month, Volkswagen which is among PMC’s development partners, has been bringing two to three containers of plastic waste to the PMC, according to Thomas Kock, PMC’s managing director. He adds that there is great industrial demand for production processes that save energy and material, especially in the automotive and aviation industries. Pointing out that automotive plastic waste is costly and adversely affects the environment, Kock notes:  “from our experimental factory, visions take shape and set off out into the world.”


Today, at PMC’s “experimental factory”, you can find sacks filled with granulate derived from shredded and ground plastic automotive waste. Kock says, the technology involved is ground-breaking, noting that this granulate can be used again without a decrease in quality, compared to most plastics which are thermally recycled or recycled in an inferior way which causes a drop in the material’s quality.


A team led by inventor Jorg Beckmann developed new processing procedures at the PMC with which it is reportedly possible for the first time to add prepared plastic wastes to fresh mixtures that are almost 100% new. Last year, this patented invention was awarded the Hugo Junkers Prize for Research and Innovation from Saxony-Anhalt. Chemical lab assistant Nicole Mahnke and chemical engineer Jurgen Deinert are key to this project, and are now part of  the recently founded start-up company Seco Thale GmbH, which is one of PMC’s tenants.  “Our tests are now going beyond the standard for laboratories,” says Deinert, noting that the internally developed processing line in the experimental factory acts as a technical center for further optimizing processes and end products.


It turns out that the heart of this invention is the separating process. Whether it be dashboards, surrounds or ventilator blades—different plastics are always processed. So far, PP, PUR and PVC have been separated from each other by means of the new technology.


The granules are of different color—black, white, blue, depending on the initial product or they are colored before they are made into new injection molded parts, according to Mahnke. In addition to the patented separation technology, new testing and measuring systems have advanced this research by confirming the high quality of the resultant recycled automotive plastics. 


SECO Thale Plastics Recycling

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