Issue: Sep 2019


PP nucleating breakthroughs redefine automotive material design



by James Hilton

Plastics are being reinvented by breakthroughs in polypropylene (PP) nucleating technology that are redefining the materials used in vehicle manufacture.

By allowing companies to improve and substitute materials, Milliken’s Hyperform range of nucleating agents for polypropylene (PP) “create exciting possibilities and perspectives for new products and the redesign of existing products and components. The materials can improve the speed and efficiency of the operations, leading to reduced costs and better productivity,” it says. The 150-year-old company has developed research, design and manufacturing expertise that reaches across a breadth of disciplines including specialty chemicals, floor covering, and performance and protective textiles. “For us, success is when discoveries made within Milliken help us all have more meaningful connections with the world,” says the company.

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Allen Jacoby, Vice President Plastics Additives at Milliken & Company, how the company’s chemical expertise serves the automotive sector.

Jacoby: Milliken has acquired immense knowledge in property modification of polyolefins via nucleation and clarification technology since the 1980s Backed by rich knowledge on polymer rheology, Milliken has been working with various stakeholders in the global automotive industry to understand the need for the continuous improvement required to meet stringent customer demands. Based on customer studies we have developed our product portfolio to enhance the quality of parts made for the growing automotive industry. For example, improving dimensional stability in large exterior parts has allowed the automotive industry to adopt Milliken solutions for critical parts, such as zero gap bumpers.

AI: What are some of the biggest breakthroughs Milliken has made for its automotive clients?

Jacoby: Global demand for higher productivity with precision dimensional stability has risen substantially. To ensure enhanced customer experience, demand for improvement in material properties used in automotive is also on the rise. Nucleation technology from Milliken provides the automotive industry with the tools it needs to meet growing demand for higher productivity. The technology also allows Milliken to tune physical properties of polyolefins to meet specifications for final applications. Hyperform HPN-68L has demonstrated productivity improvements of 15%, allowing quality parts to be produced at higher rate in order to meet demand.

AI: Tell us about Hyperform HPN-20E – how has this technology helped OEMs?

Jacoby: Hyperform HPN-20E has very unique ability to provide balance of physical properties (Stiffness / impact balance) while maintaining dimensional stability. This results in high quality, non-warping parts. Low CLTE (coefficient of linear thermal expansion), a unique property of HPN-20E, ensures minimal change in part dimension under hot or cold conditions, which ensures no defects in exterior automotive parts.

AI: What are the future technologies in the chemical field that will address the changing demands of automotive manufacturing?

Jacoby: The automotive industry has been constantly looking at improvement in material properties that can allow downgauging as well as the replacement of highly engineered polymers with Polyolefins. Demand for higher stiffness additive for polyolefins has been on the rise. Milliken’s latest generation nucleation technology, HPN- 715, allows polymer producers to develop a very high stiffness polypropylene which are utilized by compounding companies to design a product that meets automotive specification and provides the possibility of light-weighting. Also, improvement in heat deflection temperature via HPN-715, makes parts more heat resistant, a value able property improvement for parts under high heat conditions such as battery cases.

AI: How does Milliken’s additive technologies address the growing demand for sustainable solutions mandated by automotive OEMs?

Jacoby: Milliken aspires to deliver innovations without compromising our commitment to the environment. Our Hyperform family of nucleators, for example, allows for lightweighting and down-gauging of automotive parts, which reduces the overall amount of plastic use. Our DeltaMax™ Performance Modifiers increase the melt flow rate (MFR) of polypropylene impact copolymers, resulting in shorter cycle times, reduced energy usage and decreased CO2 emissions. DeltaMax also improves the physical properties of recycled polypropylene to that of virgin resins. This allows automotive OEMs to incorporate more recycled content into their parts, which helps to end the enormous problem of plastic waste and promotes a circular economy

 



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