Antwerp, Belgium —Materials maker DSM NV is using YouTube to make a point about connecting with the general public.
"Science is very important to us,” said Joost d'Hooghe. The European commercial director of DSM (Hall 6 Stand B11), the Netherlands-based materials firm, told a pre-K press conference in Antwerp “If there's anything we want you to take away today,” continued d'Hooghe, “it's that we bring new things to the world and to our customers … 1.4 million people have watched a video …”
The video to which he referred is a viral video on YouTube and Vimeo called “The Unsung Heroes of Science.” It's a very cinematic-looking piece, full of scenes of people with great ideas confronting people in power who could inhibit progress through their blinkered adherence to the status quo. It's the kind of thing that major-league advertising agencies pitch to large industrial companies to boost their profile among the general public and boost reputations for corporate social responsibility.
“Never doubt that a few caring scientists can change the world” is the message that the video illuminates, however. And, d'Hooghe brought the message back to DSM: “Science is very important to us.” But, for DSM, science is more about bringing up the levels of high temperature nylon than finding a prophylactic for malaria. Science is about a commitment to R&D.
“It's a very risky endeavor for a company [to have so much R&D],” said d'Hooge. “Not everything you start with becomes a success so we have to make sure we have the best people around.”
Finding the best people is a global hunt and, to this end, DSM has opened R&D facilities in Pune, India; Detroit; Geleen, Netherlands; Shanghai and Tokyo.
But what fruits of DSM's R&D labour will visitors to K 2016 get to experience? The company will use the show to introduce the latest addition to its ForTii range of high performance polyphthalamides (PPAs) based on nylon 4T. ForTii MX nylons have been formulated to provide a cost-effective alternative to die-casting metals.
The company believes that the market for metal replacement is currently growing at close to 10 percent annually, with enormous potential for the replacement of die-cast metal parts, particularly in the automotive sector.
The ForTii MX grades are partially aromatic, semi crystalline polymers which, the company claims, show better properties than existing PPA materials in terms of mechanical strength and toughness across a broad temperature range. The MX grades are available with glass fiber reinforcement ranging between 30 percent and 50 percent. And the company claims that the cost reduction of using these new materials compared with metal die-casting is up to 50 percent.
Substitution and temperature resistance are also crucial for a new grade of DSM's Arnitel thermoplastic copolyester elastomer, Arnitel HT. The new high-temperature resistant grade has been developed for use in the flexible hot charge air ducts used in turbocharged engines.
Hot charge air ducts are common features in advanced petrol and diesel engines. They transfer hot compressed air from the turbocharger or the supercharger to the intercooler in a system that increases the efficiency of the engine by using higher operating pressures.
Arnitel HT will allow system suppliers to produce ducts in a single material, using a single process step. The current industry practice is to assemble separate elements of the ducts in hard thermoplastics or metal and soft thermosetting rubbers. DSM claims that switching to Arnitel HT will provide producers with a significant improvement in process efficiency, cost reductions of up to 50 percent and weight reduction of up to 40 percent.
DSM claims that Arnitel HT can withstand continuous operating temperatures of up to 180°C and peaks of up to 190°C, has high temperature resistance and good resistance to the sorts of oils and chemicals found in automobile engine environments. Its combination of elasticity and mechanical strength means that an entire duct can be produced in a single piece, using 3-D suction blow moulding.
Also in the TPE corner, DSM will be exhibiting Samsung's latest smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear S2. The South Korean manufacturer chose DSM's Arnitel TPE for the soft strap on its wearable gadget.
Samsung selected the Arnitel compound for the strap for its balance of physical and chemical properties, its soft touch and feel, its comfort in direct skin contact and its certification to USP and ISO standards covering biocompatibility of devices. The material can be used in overmolded structures with other plastics including PC, ABS, and PET.
During the development of the Galaxy Gear S2 strap, Samsung was provided with rapid-response support in up-scaling from prototypes to high-volume molding from DSM's local team in South Korea, backed up by its research and product development operations in Europe and China.
DSM will be showcasing how its EcoPaxx nylon grades are increasingly being used in drinking water-contact applications. The glass-fiber reinforced grades are able to withstand the stringent requirements of hot-water contact, while still meeting all major drinking water approval programs.
Mixer tap valves need to provide long-term durability and perform reliably when in contact with both warm (60˚C) and hot water (90˚C). DSM claims its EcoPaxx offers superior toughness, better hydrolysis resistance and dimensional stability than other nylon-based materials. It is lead-free and offers, the company claims, improved torque and bending strength, even after extended exposure to boiling water.
The material has passed more than one million lifetime testing cycles in varying water temperatures, and fully complies with all major drinking water certifications, such as NSF61 and KTW.
Somewhat unexpectedly, DSM will also be exhibiting high performance filaments for fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3-D printing. DSM has a history of selling raw materials as plastic granules, which would eventually end up in the 3-D printing market, but never before has it offered its end product as a filament.
The two new materials are Arnitel ID, a flexible thermoplastic copolyester; and Novamid ID, a premium nylon. These are said to offer unique material performance compared with the traditional FDM filaments made from ABS or PLA resins.
DSM's entry into the 3-D printing filament market is the result of a partnership with Nexeo Solutions, a global distributor of 3-D printing filaments.