New nylon resins and compounds were on the agenda for BASF Corp. and Radici Group at NPE2012.
Florham Park, N.J.-based BASF was touting several new grades and applications of its Ultramid-brand nylon compounds. Ultramid HFX was launched late last year and is being used in small tubing for paint sprayers and in large tubing for oil and gas applications, said industrial business director Joe Venner in an interview at the show, held April 1-5 in Orlando.
The new compound is being made at BASF plants in Sparta, N.C., and Altamíra, Mexico. A recent increase in oil and gas exploration and drilling throughout North America has spurred demand for the compound, Venner said.
A long-glass-fiber grade of Ultramid also was commercialized late last year. The material can have 40-60 percent glass-fiber content, Venner said. It has been commercialized in ax handles and other applications where impact performance and toughness are needed.
Ultramid also recently was used for the first time in an oil pan module on Ford F-250 and F-350 trucks. It's replacing cast aluminum there and can offer as much as 50 percent weight reduction, said BASF business development manager Phil Wilson.
Other recent new Ultramid applications include a higher-gloss grade in lawn mower grills and battery trays in the Chevy Volt vehicle, Wilson added. A wheel rim made from Ultramid also is in development with Mercedes-Benz. The concept part can offer 30 percent weight reduction vs. metal.
Venner added that BASF's Ultradur-brand polybutylene terephthalate resin also has made inroads into the appliance market recently.
BASF Corp. is the North American arm of global plastics and chemicals giant BASF SE of Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF SE posted sales of almost $96 billion in 2011.
Radici Group arrived at NPE with three recently commercialized grades of nylon resins. All three grades are part of Radici's Radilon-brand nylon family, marketing and application director Erico Spini said during a press event at NPE2012. The newest grade is an eco-sustainable material for injection molding and extrusion.
The eco-grade is based on nylon 6/10 and is 60 percent composed of renewable resources, primarily sebacic acid from castor beans and plants. The material has improved chemical resistance and is less expensive than standard grades of nylon 6/12, Spini said. Radici produces the material at a plant at its headquarters site in Bergamo, Italy.
Radici also recently has launched high-heat-resistant grades of nylon 6/6. The materials are aimed at the auto market and address needs in engine downsizing and longer vehicle lifetimes, Spini said. They can be used in blow molding as well as injection molding. One grade, a 35 percent glass-filled 6/6, can replace specialty polymers such as polyphenylene sulfide, he added.
The third new offering is a line of high-fill-level grades of nylon 6 and 6/6 for metal replacement.
Radici executive Michael Cain added that the firm “is very optimistic about the U.S. market.” Cain is executive vice president of Radici Plastics USA, which operates a compounding plant in Wadsworth, Ohio.
Nylon and engineering resin demand in the U.S. is expected to average 4.5 percent annual growth to 2020, Cain said. Radici's major markets in automotive and electrical/electronics are also expected to grow, with automotive builds possibly reaching 14.5 million vehicles per year.
Radici has about $2 billion in annual plastics sales. In addition to its plant in Wadsworth, the firm operates a plant making polymer-based Spandex synthetic fibers in Gastonia, N.C.