Better performance, less material

Advanced simulation tools have been used to develop new materials that optimise the performance capabilities of plastic/metal composites, or hybrids, offering improved flowability.

nufacturer to develop hybrids which use aluminium sheeting rather than sheet steel.dard polyamide 6, without adversely affecting the elasticity modulus, stiffness, elongation at break or flow line strength.

Boris Koch, hybrid technology expert at Lanxess told Eureka: "We can now reduce the wall thickness and weight of hybrid components even further and attempt to exploit the materials used as best as possible. If possible, plastic should only be utilised where it is needed and in the required quantity."

Lanxess used topology optimisation software to ascertain the best position for the polyamide ribs to ensure optimum component stiffness and has also developed a new evaluation procedure with which material data from high speed trials can be defined for crash simulations. The method, based on reverse engineering, enables the material parameters governed by the rate of elongation to be calculated from rapid tensile tests. This provides a very reliable means of simulating the crash behaviour of hybrid parts even before the prototype has been built.

"With the Easy Flow polyamide and optimised simulation processes, we can reduce the wall thickness of a hybrid component by around 20 per cent over a standard design, which leads to more lightweight, cost effective parts. The component characteristics remain at their normal high level," explained Koch.

Another recent innovation from Lanxess is its highly filled PA 6 grade made up of around 60% glass fibres by weight. It is derived from Easy Flow Durethan and displays the same flowability as a standard PA 6 with 30% glass fibres. The material can therefore be processed on existing plants under almost the same conditions.

Hybrid materials are already being used in the automotive industry. BMW, for example, uses a combination of sheet steel and Lanxess' polyamide 6 Durethan BKV 30 H2.0 on the front end of its 1 Series and 3 Series cars. Lanxess is also collaborating with an aluminium manufacturer to develop hybrids which use aluminium sheeting rather than sheet steel.

Tom Shelley

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