New nylon brings benefits for autos

TechnylStar nylon from Rhodia Engineering Plastics is based on proprietary polymerisation and patented compounding technology. Special catalysts and chemicals that the company has incorporated into the polymerisation cycle have produced a new arrangement of the macro-molecules in the nylon’s molecular chain, creating a semi-crystalline, non-linear polymer structure unique to the company.

Rhodia is introducing very high-flow TechnylStar materials, incorporating 20-40% reinforcement. These have distinct processing advantages compared with standard grades of reinforced nylon. Secondly, the company is producing heavily reinforced compounds that can compete with high performance polymers, such as polyarylamide, polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), light alloys and polyphthalamide (PPA), in terms of stiffness but which are less expensive and easier to mould.

The high flow TechnylStar materials will provide plastics processors with faster cycle times, fewer injection points on large components, smaller runners and less scrap. For complex parts, TechnylStar will offer scope for simplifying tool design through reduction in the number of hot runners needed.

Additionally, TechnylStar nylon is readily processible at lower clamp forces, allowing a smaller size of injection moulding machine to be used, or providing the opportunity for increasing the number of mould cavities. The fluidity of TechnylStar allows moulding at lower temperatures than conventional nylons, significantly reducing total energy requirements.

TechnylStar SX grades with high levels of reinforcing fillers, between 50 and 65%, are characterised by their stiffness, which is maintained at elevated temperatures. They also have superior flow performance, registering at least 50% improvement in laboratory spiral flow tests when compared with similarly loaded grades of nylon (6, 66 12, 4-6 and polyarylamide).

Injection moulded parts produced from TechnylStar nylon have a near Class-A surface, opening up opportunities for highly filled compounds to be used in applications where aesthetic appearance is one of the principal considerations.

These high performance TechnylStar compounds do not demand the same severe processing conditions as other high performance engineering thermoplastics.

Automotive applications are the initial target for TechnylStar nylon. The high flow grades, containing glass and mixed glass/mineral reinforcements, are expected to find under-hood specification for manifolds, engine covers, fans and shrouds. The more heavily reinforced materials, up to 65%, will be aimed at clutch master cylinders, mirrors and door-lock mechanisms.

Other applications are expected in the sports and leisure industries, for uses such as ski bindings and clips, for connectors, cable ties and for small mechanical components.

A number of successful moulding trials have already been held with European processors and sample grades of TechnylStar nylon are immediately available on a global basis, with production quantities coming on stream in the fourth quarter of the year.

Grades initially available are: TechnylStar SX 218 V50 and TechnylStar SX 218 V60, 50% and 60% glass fibre reinforced respectively. TechnylStar SX 218 MZ40 V25 combining 40% mineral and 25% glass reinforcement. And, two high flow grades, TechnylStar S 218 V30, with 30% glass fibres, and TechnylStar S 218 MT25 V20 with 25% minerals and 20% glass reinforcement. All compounds are currently available as black. Natural and coloured grades will be introduced as markets for TechnylStar are developed.

Initial production of TechnylStar nylon is concentrated at Rhodia’s European facilities. The technology is scalable to other facilities and Rhodia Engineering Plastics plans to produce the polymer in North America and Asia as soon as volumes dictate.

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