GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — DuPont Performance Polymers has developed a composite technology based on its Zytel nylon 66 material which has passed crash tests performed by French car maker PSA Peugeot Citroen on a side impact beam. Using DuPont Vizilon — the name for the composite technology, which is still in development — in the beam led to a 40 percent weight reduction vs. the original beam made from ultra-high strength steel.
DuPont revealed the collaboration with PSA Peugeot Citroen at a pre-K 2013 press event at the group's new Innovation Center in Geneva, Switzerland.
Stéphane Delalande, PSA Peugeot Citroen's leader in polymer materials, paid tribute to the collaboration with DuPont in a speech at the event. He told European Plastics News the side impact beam using Vizilon composites would appear in a volume production car in 2016 or 2017.
The display at the Innovation Center showed the beam fitted to the door of a Citroen C3. Testing was done on the C3 to allow comparison of the composites beam's performance with the C3's existing steel beam. Delalande would not reveal which car model the beam would be used in first.
The composite part is produced from organo sheet made from a continuous glass fiber and PA66 laminate. This is shaped into the beam in a heating and forming process in which the material crystallizes. In a second stage, steel connectors are inserted and the part is back molded in PA66.
In terms of its performance, the composites beam showed very high stiffness in a temperature range from -40C to +90C.
Patrick Cazuc, marketing director EMEA in DuPont Performance Polymers' automotive business, said the composite part absorbs more energy than metal and short-fiber glass reinforced polymer beams. This makes the Vizilon technology well suited for crash components, opening up a new field for plastics in cars, he said.
The Innovation Center in Geneva is the latest in a global network of centers which enable DuPont experts around the world to connect with the group's customers and work collaboratively on customer projects. Journalists at the event were shown how development is pursued in the Geneva technical center and witnessed a live demonstration via video link of the composite side impact beam being tested at DuPont Engineering Technologies' center in Wilmington, Del.
The number of DuPont's Innovation Centers has now reached 11 after the group recently opened ones in Geneva, Moscow and Istanbul. The centers provide a link between the group's customers and more than 10,000 scientists and engineers working around the world, said Bjoern Hedlund, vice president EMEA at DuPont Performance Polymers.
Lewis Manring, vice president global technology, said DuPont Performance Polymers' R&D investment has increased by approximately 50 percent in the last five years. In 2012, about 29 percent of sales by DuPont Performance Polymers were from new products introduced in the previous four years.
When asked what the network of Innovation Centers had enabled the group to do, Manring said: "The biggest impact is speed."
While the group had always worked closely and communicated with customers, it can now connect customers with DuPont experts around the world much more quickly, he said.
Hedlund introduced DuPont's K2013 theme, "The Global Collaboratory", which is linked to the strategy of the Innovation Centers.
At the press event DuPont discussed other new developments which it will show on its stand at K2013. In automotive, it will show an innovative jounce bumper and a thermoplastic oil pan for trucks. In other sectors, it will show new food grade and medical materials and polymers made from renewable resources.