Royal DSM, the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, has signed a partnership agreement with PlastiComp, Inc., based in Winona, Minnesota, USA, to develop new innovative bio-based Long Fiber Thermoplastic (LFT) composite materials for the automotive and other performance-driven markets.
Central to this partnership is DSM’s commitment to sustainability—in this case with its EcoPaXX® polyamide 410, 70% derived from renewable resources—and PlastiComp’s expertise in LFT composites design and manufacturing. Initial compounding, molding and testing of carbon-fiber reinforced EcoPaXX was successful in establishing benchmark composites for high-temperature (up to 200°C) and structural applications.
The LFT composites DSM is co-developing with PlastiComp—which include compounds reinforced with glass fiber as well as carbon fiber—have an much improved Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) score, thanks to the carbon neutral cradle-to-gate footprint of the EcoPaXX polymer. These composites are well suited to weight optimization efforts in the automotive industry for fuel savings and lowered emissions.
The two partner companies will also collaborate with potential customers to design injection-molded composite parts. They will employ computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools to ensure optimized fiber architecture to meet stringent requirements for dimensional tolerances, surface finish and high-temperature properties.
While the principal focus of the partnership is on automotive applications, composites that DSM and PlastiComp are developing are also attractive in other metal-replacement applications. Grades can, for example, leverage material characteristics such as electro-magnetic interference (EMI) shielding for electronics, and radiolucency in X-Ray applications, thereby enhancing the value of light-weight, high performance, metal substitutions.
The PlastiComp business focus is in long fiber reinforced composite thermoplastic technology: both LFT (long fiber reinforced thermoplastic pellets) and D-LFT (direct long fiber reinforced thermoplastic), and D-GMT (direct glass mat thermoplastic) direct in-line compounding technologies. Complēt® composite pellets, produced with LFT technology, are made for the injection molding market in standard as well as custom formulations. PlastiComp manufactures and installs Pushtrusion machinery for direct in-line compounding as a D-LFT technology for injection molding as well as a D-GMT technology for compression molding. In addition, PlastiComp does advanced technology part molding and contract research and development including: material formulation, part testing, process development, and evaluation. PlastiComp also licenses LFT pellet manufacturing technology, with agreements in place at industry-leading companies in Europe and Asia.
Source: DSM, press release, 2013-10-02.