A. Schulman Academy highlights fuel line development

David Vink

Published: September 13, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Automotive, Materials, Design

KERPEN, GERMANY (Sept. 13, 1:45 p.m. ET) — Compound and masterbatch producer A. Schulman Inc. officially opened its Schulman Academy center earlier this year at its European engineering thermoplastics business headquarters in Kerpen. The new center is a special section of Schulman’s technical center, which opened in November.

The center has been equipped with technology to function as a fluid systems development center for pipe and tube extrusion, complete with an extruder, corrugators, online dimension monitoring and pipe burst testing equipment.

The center’s main focus is presently on developing automotive fuel and coolant line tubes with Schulman materials.

Asked why the center has not focused on injection molding, innovation manager Thilo Stier indicated that three-component injection molding and blow molding might be developed at a later stage by the academy.

Stier said the key to success in tube development lies 50 percent in formulation and 50 percent in processing. “But without the equipment you can’t convince the customer. Fuel and coolant line tube products from EMS, Evonik, Arkema are all forms of the polyamide produced by those companies. We can bring different polymers together in the most economical way without being tied to a particular type of polymer,” he said.

The lower cost, easy processing alternative to today’s monolayer nylon 12 tubes consists of a Schulatube BP (break pressure) three-layer design involving a Schulamid 612 IC 4005 W outer layer, a Schulamid 612 FS 4003 central layer and Schulamid BB 4011 inner layer.

As a special co-polyamide with high monomer content, the BB (break booster) 4011 inner layer material has good elastic recovery. The more conventional unplasticized FS (fuel system) 4003 heat stabilized nylon 6/12 central layer grade is supported by the 612 IC (industrial consumer) 4005 W outer layer material, a plasticised nylon 6/12 with high ductility and viscosity. It also has around 20 percent higher heat resistance than nylon 12.

612 IC 4005 W is already used in extrusion applications because it can be extruded at high speeds without diehead build-up. The material also has high cold impact strength and high burst pressure resistance. Wittmann’s Feedmax S3-40 dosing equipment in the Schulman Academy is fitted with DIN 73378 standard blue monolayer pneumatic fluid tubes made in this material.

Schulman has already made Schulamid 612 IC 4005 W and conventional nylon 12 W monolayer tube burst pressure comparisons which show burst pressure is consistently 10 percent higher with 612 IC 4005 W. In tests, a 6mm outer diameter, 1.0mm wall thickness pipe sample had burst pressure of almost 90bar, compared with the same-sized sample in nylon 12 W with just over 80bar. Corresponding values for 15mm diameter and 1.5mm wall thickness were just over 50bar for the Schulamid material, and around 45bar for nylon 12 W.

Against a backdrop of this year’s nylon 12 shortages that have been aggravated by the CDT feedstock plant fire at Evonik’s Marl plant, Schulman stresses the “unlimited and global availability” of its three nylon 6/12 based grades for automotive fuel line pipes. These are supplied in natural and black colors.

Stier said that some three-layer tube systems were already running at customers in June. He stressed that Schulman’s tube concept allows customers to run the three grades in three-layer tubes on older and existing machinery, avoiding a need to make equipment investment.

After Bernhard Rzepka, Schulman’s CEO for the EMEA region, presented the company’s product and worldwide strategy, Stier was asked why the Schulman Academy had been built in Europe and not in a higher-growth market.

Stier replied: “We have developments in other countries, but the engineering thermoplastics competence is here in Europe. It is also easier to do development work in one place. And if we extrude a tube and find it is not very good, we can solve the problem in-house.”

Schulman technical and market development manager Peter Seb" said that conducting trials at customer facilities is difficult due to conflicts with production needs. He continued by saying there is a shift from mono nylon 12 to multilayer tubes that is being driven by the European market.

Allowance has to be made in tube materials and design for use of automatic quick connector insertion that “takes a lot of manual assembly out of manufacturing operations”, Seb" said. High temperature resistant plastics remain important, as engine downsizing means rising engine compartment temperatures, bringing nylon 12 close to its limits.

Seb" said the Schulman Academy is investigating “green” polymers by using recyclate in the central layer of multilayer tubes.

Stier pointed out that there is a need to focus on individual requirements, since “a particular region may involve more exposure to ethanol or sulphur, for example, which can be challenging. We welcome it, however, because if it gets easy, everyone can then do it”.

Maintools of Germany supplied its Extrudex EG 35-25D central, EN 40-25D inner and EN 45-30D outer layer extruders for the academy. These were fitted with Maintools dosing and extrusion controls, for production of monolayer or multilayer tubes, as well as a set of 50 pairs of 56.5mm x 68.5mm x 36mm vacuum corrugation tools with capability for eight corrugation geometries.

ETA Kunststofftechnologie of Germany provided a spiral mandrel diehead with circular melt pre_distribution that enables separate temperature control for each individual tube layer and product centering adjustment during production. Although presently provided for three-layer tube solutions, ETA says up to seven layers are theoretically possible and a further three can be added by coating processes. The company also supplies dieheads for blow molding nine layers.

Bellaform supplied the vacuum tank, cooling batch, pull-off and servo-cutter equipment. Beta LaserMike supplied Datapro 5000 online and BenchMike 283-10 laser micrometer offline equipment for measurement of outer diameter, wall thickness and concentricity. The equipment makes a total of 10 measurements; six ultrasonically and four by laser.

The final stage in Schulatube BP processing involves tube marking and coding with KBA-Metronic’s alphaJET evo pro Pig 70µm continuous ink jet printer, which can print at speeds up to 600m/min.

Having made tubes, these are then tested in static and dynamic burst pressure testing equipment developed by IPT Institut für Prüftechnik Gerätebau for testing up to 200bar pressure between - 40°C and 160°C.

Schulman also uses a Distelkamp Electronic digital microscope to prepare and display images of multi-layer pipe cross-sections on a computer screen, complete with display of individual layer thicknesses.


Comments

A. Schulman Academy highlights fuel line development

David Vink

Published: September 13, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Plasan investing in capacity, jobs to supply auto market with carbon fiber

September 19, 2014 3:05 pm ET

Growth in the emerging automotive market for carbon-fiber composites has spurred a $29 million investment in a Walker, Mich., factory    More

Image

Toyoda Gosei expanding in Mexico

September 19, 2014 2:33 pm ET

Toyoda Gosei North America Corp. is investing $67 million in a 398,000-square-foot plant in central Mexico to supply the automotive industry with...    More

Exo-s buys injection and blow molder in Mexico, expands footprint

September 19, 2014 2:15 pm ET

Custom molder Exo-s Inc. has bought an injection and blow molding operation in San Juan del Rio, Querétaro, Mexico.    More

Image

Foster building medical polymers plant

September 19, 2014 1:39 pm ET

Foster Delivery Science is investing $8 million in a new plant in Putnam, Conn., for production of medical polymer blends, as well as rods, film or...    More

Image

BP to restart damaged PTA unit in limited capacity by November

September 19, 2014 10:27 am ET

British Petroleum plc may restart its fire-damaged purified terephthalic acid (PTA) feedstock unit in South Carolina in late October or early November...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook – North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events