One-Step Method for Blow Molding Composites
Lanxess forms and bonds Tepex composite sheet to a blow molded parison in the mold.
Now there’s a one-step method of forming lightweight structural thermoplastic hollow sections or hollow articles locally reinforced with continuous fibers. At its German technical center, the High Performance Materials (HPM) business unit of Lanxess is developing methods of placing preheated blanks of composite organosheets in an extrusion blow mold while a parison of the same thermoplastic material is being extruded. When the mold closes and the parison is inflated, the organosheet is formed to shape by the mold and bonded tightly to the parison by the blowing pressure.
Good adhesion between the blow molded parison and Tepex continuous-fiber organosheet allows full utilization of the composite’s strength and stiffness.
The process uses Tepex resin-impregnated, continuous-fiber fabrics from Lanxess’ Bond-Laminates business. These organosheets can be of nylon 6 or 66 (or other resins) reinforced with continuous carbon, glass or aramid fibers. These sheets reportedly bond well in blow molding with Lanxess’ Durethan high-viscosity blow molding grades of nylons 6 and 66 with and without glass fibers. “Even low blow molding pressures are enough to form Tepex into critical 3D geometries such as hemispheres with tight radii,” says Tilmann Sontag, expert in lightweight design at HPM’s Tepex Automotive Group. He adds that the fabric reinforcement makes heated Tepex blanks much easier to handle than unidirectional tapes.
Engineering plastics experts Tilmann Sontag (l.), Loreen Winkelake and Arthur Rieb experiment with blow molding composites at the Dormagen technical center of Lanxess’ HPM unit.
Previously, blow molding with composite sheets required welding flat or preformed Tepex blanks onto the part after blow molding, thus adding one or two extra steps. The new one-step process boasts cycle times “that are typical of blow molding,” states Arthur Rieb, HPM blow molding specialist. The blow molding step determines the overall cycle time.
The U.S. is catching up with Europe and Asia in exploring the potential of biodegradable polyesters in flexible and rigid packaging. Because of their cost, these resins often find use in blends with other degradable materials.
A thermoplastic composite technology that emerged just a couple of years ago promises to make dramatic strides within the next two years in automotive mass production of structural components.
Brominated flame retardants restrict its use. Most now goes to China, but new recycling processes promise to ‘clean up’ e-waste.