13th KUNSTSTOFF-DIA(hr)LOG® with AKRO-PLASTIC
AKRO-PLASTIC GmbH ‒ the specialist for innovative and application-oriented plastics compounds ‒ invited guests to Niederzissen, Germany, to participate in the thirteenth KUNSTSTOFF-DIA(hr)LOG® on 14 and 15 May 2019. Under the motto “New mobility makes new demands on engineering plastics” and with fully occupied rows, the company once again welcomed guests from 12 nations to its plant.
Andreas Stuber, Managing Director of AKRO-PLASTIC GmbH, first welcomed the visitors and then handed the podium over to Leander Bergmann, Head of Marketing at AKRO-PLASTIC and host of the event. He gave an overview of the Feddersen Group, to which the compounder belongs, and of the company itself, together with its international production sites. He showed that the new mobility also places new demands on AKRO-PLASTIC, because new mobility to a certain degree also means other plastic components in the vehicle.
Since all production sites worldwide (Germany, China and Brazil) manufacture according to the uniform ICX® Technology and the products are therefore identical, the Niederzissen-based company considers itself well equipped to face the future.
This address was followed by a number of interesting, discussion-provoking presentations
Prof. Johann Tomforde, managing partner of TEAMOBILITY GmbH from Böblingen, started off the round. The company develops mobility system solutions and sustainable business models in the fields of automobility, transportation and digital networking. In his lecture “Urban transport all charged up?!”, he not only pointed out that city mobility must be tackled with more dynamism but also critically noted that many currently favoured solutions had already been developed by creative forces several years ago, yet ignored by the German automotive industry. Today, the industry has to buy into start-ups expensively instead of developing innovative concepts with its own creatives. In his opinion, transdisciplinary cooperation was invigorating the mobility industry.
“The way cars are built will change significantly over the next 10 years,” said Prof. Tomforde.
Stefan Jauss, Global Product Manager Liquid Systems at Mahle Filtersysteme GmbH, explained in his lecture “Plastics development in the transformation of drive technology” that mobility was in a state of transformation. By 2030, 60 % of the total population will live in large cities, by 2050 it will already be 2/3. Even though major automotive OEMs are committed to the topic of electromobility, he believed that the internal combustion engine still had a promising future. “In order to select the right drive, the purpose it is to serve must be taken into account,” said Jauss.
“Electromobility for urban mobility, or the highly efficient, modified combustion engine and/or plug-in hybrid for long distances – the number of drive and mobility concepts will increase significantly by 2030,” predicts Jauß.
He considered the further development of known technologies and their use for new projects to be a sustainable approach and presented corresponding projects on which his company was already working with partners.
Mr. Nicolai Lammert, Head of the business unit Additive Manufacturing at Yizumi Germany GmbH, Aachen, made it clear in his lecture on additive manufacturing that this technology is now quite economical and has exited the phase of pure prototype development. “Additive manufacturing is not a new technology. It only paused for some time, as it was heavily dependent on and mostly only marketed exclusively by a few machine manufacturers and the associated raw material suppliers,” Lammert declared. “We have now developed new concepts and found out how additive manufacturing processes can be used economically, even compared to injection moulding.” He illustrated this with some calculation examples from practice.
“Additive manufacturing is not 3D printing,” Nicolai Lammert clarified. In his opinion, additive manufacturing technologies had the potential to replace injection moulding machines and moulds to a certain extent. He saw the corresponding market restructuring processes coming. However, the basis for the economic use of additive manufacturing technologies was competent and holistic support in the areas of part design, manufacturing cell design and material input.
Practical Demonstration at the Competence Centre
The first day of the event ended after a visit to the Competence Centre of AKRO-PLASTIC, where a small prototype manufacturing cell for additive processes already known from recent years – such as the WIT and the PST processes – were presented.
“We have now developed new concepts and found out how additive manufacturing processes can be used economically, even compared to injection moulding.”
The Second Day
Thilo Stier, Head of Innovation and Sales at AKRO-PLASTIC, opened the next day with his lecture “AKROMID® – the path to the complete package”, as a presentation from his own company. He showed what has been going on in the market since the last DIA(hr)LOG® a year ago. The shortage of the raw material ADN had a great influence on the industry, but also brought new products into the sector and broke down old barriers, because the statement “PA 6.6 must be used for this purpose” was often no longer tenable and alternative plastics were being considered. Stier vividly explained which alternatives AKRO-PLASTIC could contribute here on the basis of various product ranges and application areas.
Thus, the problem of hydrolytic stability with a PA/PP blend and the issue of surface texture could also be solved. He also referred to the compounder’s Competence Centre, where ideas are developed for customers, such as the WIT process or the plasma coating process. Customers can rent the Centre and have the corresponding tests carried out. He also gave an outlook on upcoming products, such as long-fibre grades based on PA 6.6 and an aromatic AKROMID® based on PA 9 T with particularly superior properties in the temperature range of 80 – 120 C compared to other PPA grades, such as PA 6 T.
Within the scope of a joint lecture, he then handed over to Andreas Büttgenbach from M.TEC Engineering in Herzogenrath near Aachen. M.TEC is an engineering company for integrated plastic product development. As development service providers, the interdisciplinary teams of experts are the driving force and source of concepts for new solution approaches, from the product idea to series production. The company has been a member of the Feddersen Group since the middle of last year. Büttgenbach pointed out with his lecture “If you don’t want to rely on luck, you’d better do the math” how important it was to consult him and his colleagues, not only when something has already gone wrong, but to include the topic of simulation and calculation in the early phases of product development, i.e. in the entire development process. Nevertheless, using various development tools such as Moldflow analysis and finite element simulation, he demonstrated how M.TEC analyses faulty components during troubleshooting to find the root cause and then solve the problem. Often the component geometry is unfavourable, which necessitates a change in the tool.
Mr. Niels Koch, Component Owner Radar Systems at Audi AG in Ingolstadt, Germany, showed afterwards with his lecture “Plastics applications in networked vehicles” how radar technology would be used for autonomous driving. “At the moment, we have a golden age for engineers in this field,” Koch asserted. He pointed out the different areas of application of this technology in cars and informed the attendees about the technical challenges that a comprehensive use of this technology entails. He also presented a list of wishes to the plastics industry that would help him and his colleagues to make optimum use of this technology, because the radar sensors require certain properties of the plastic used: Good transmission and reflection as well as attenuation of the radio waves, good thermal conductivity as well as chemical and mechanical resistances at a good price.
“If you already integrate simulation and calculation into the component development process, you can save these costs”
Dr. Bernd Matschiner, Senior Engineering Manager for the HellermannTyton plants in Asia, was next with a lecture entitled “Developed today – drive tomorrow”. After a brief overview of the various business areas of the group of companies, boasting over 75,000 product solutions, Dr. Matschiner used the cable tie product portfolio to show how the use of plastics had changed in recent decades. “Right from the start, we produced our cable ties and fasteners mainly from standard PA 6.6 or PA 6.6-HS. At the beginning of the 1990s, the development of new fasteners began by using impact-modified, heat-stabilised PA 6.6. After some time, however, the PA 6.6-HIRHS material, which was the best available on the market at the time, exhibited increased maintenance requirements due to mould deposits, especially for delicate tool contours,” said Dr. Matschiner.
According to him, the material supplier showed no willingness to cooperate in solving the problem, due to the low volume of less than 100 tonnes/year at the time. By contrast, AKRO-PLASTIC GmbH, which was still quite young at that stage, took up the challenge and developed a new grade of material as an alternative. By now, the compounder is producing a large number of new material grades for the locations in Germany, China and Poland. The current volume is approx. 5,900 tonnes/year. The long-standing cooperation between the two companies had resulted in joint successes and new grades of materials. The use of these new material grades was demonstrated using a number of development examples.
Andreas Gebhard, Head of the Tribology competence field at the Institute for Composite Materials in Kaiserslautern, concluded the lecture series with the presentation “Sliding contact in plastic metal bonds”. He explained that a transfer film is formed between the different materials, how this can be measured, and how durable it is in continuous operation. However, it had become clear in a series of measurements that, contrary to the previous opinion, the transfer film is, on the one hand, not constant and, on the other, a reduction of the film has no negative effects on the sliding friction. However, the Institute was still in the midst of basic research into this issue.
“There is no single correct strategy in these times of change, but together we have many good answers”
Thanks to the Speakers
Speakers on Day 1 (from left to right):
L. Bergmann, St. Jauss, Prof. J. Tomforde, N. Lammert
Speakers on Day 2 (from left to right):
A. Büttgenbach, N. Koch, Dr. B. Matschiner, A. Gebhard, L. Bergmann, Th. Stier
A Successful Event
Mr. Bergmann then summed up the conference with the conclusion that engineering plastics were certainly capable of mastering the challenges of the “new mobility”, but could not eliminate the uncertainty of the entire market about the right concept of mobility.
He concluded with the words “There is no single correct strategy in these times of change, but together we have many good answers” and the note that the next KUNSTSTOFF-DIA(hr)LOG would be held in May 2020.
The next DIA(hr)LOG will be on the 12. - 13. of May 2020.