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... is the title of the autobiography of Alan Alda . Maybe you have read this wonderful book. Alda says that the expression “Never have your dog stuffed” is really an advice to himself, a reminder “not to avoid change or uncertainty, but to go with it, to surf into change.” Perhaps it would have been good to recommend this book to the protagonists of the latest Diesel summit in Germany. The dull mush of concerns, hesitations and misunderstood considerations, which were in the end communicated as a ‘breakthrough’ to the public, gave ample opportunity to shake one’s head in disbelief.
Why is change so difficult?
Perhaps because the path to global implementation of alternative mobility concepts - above all electro-mobility - is paved with a great amount of uncertainty, contradictory, and inconsistent figures and forecasts. In a recent excellent study presented by the Cologne-based consultants Struktur Management Partner, the analysts say that the identification of the leading key technology in automotive engineering is more difficult than ever . This is perfectly true! Forecasts for the medium- and long-term development of sales figures and technologies in the automotive industry have never been more difficult than today. This is a particularly difficult situation for many small and medium-sized suppliers, who are not sure how to position themselves for the future.
But that change must come is clear for (almost) everyone.
Everyone knows it. “Tesla knows it. Volvo knows it. Hell, most of the automotive industry knows it.” In his article from 6 July 2017, MIT Technology Review editor Jamie Condliffe refers to a new BNEF study . According to the key statement of the study in view of decreasing prices for batteries, “EVs are on track to accelerate to 54 % of new car sales by 2040” . The big dilemma of such forecasts becomes brutally visible when one looks at the BNEF forecast from a year ago. There, the share of EVs was expected to be only at 35 % by 2040.
Regardless of fixed figures, there is a lot of consent that the 2020s will see a major breakthrough in e-mobility and become the decade when electric cars take over. One hundred years after the “Roaring” Twenties, we might experience the “Quiet” Twenties.
We cannot avoid uncertainty, but we can, as Alan Alda suggested, surf uncertainty. Never have your dog stuffed. Do not cling to old habits. And learn to live with the uncertainty about the current state of the cat in the box.
 Alan Alda, Never Have Your Dog Stuffed And Other Things I’ve Learned, Random House, New York 2006.
 Struktur Management Partner GmbH, Spreu und Weizen. Welche KMU-Automobilzulieferer schaffen den Strukturwandel, welche nicht?
 Jamie Condliffe, By 2040, More Than Half of All New Cars Could Be Electric, MIT Technology Review, 6 July 2017
(Thanks to Denis Hicks for the inspiration).
 Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), Electric Vehicle Outlook 2017.
In 2017 Santoprene celebrates its 40th anniversary. The brand name Santoprene has literally become a generic name for thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPV). The name Santoprene still alludes to the company who initially filed the brand name for registration on 17 January 1977, Monsanto. The first developmental products were then brought to the market in 1978. 1981 saw the full commercialisation of the TPV, that since 2002 is owned by ExxonMobil Chemical. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the most famous representative of the group of thermoplastic vulcanizates TPE Magazine had the chance to speak to Kurt Aerts, Vice President, Specialty Elastomers & Butyl Polymers, ExxonMobil Chemical, about the history and the future of this fascinating material.
Twenty years ago, the Wittenburg Group debuted with the introduction of the medical series Cawiton MT. This highly customisable material series combined the performance of rubbers with the processing properties of plastics, delivering sophisticated design opportunities through a wide and flexible range of products. Originating from ‘’medical grade’’ raw materials with high biocompatibility status, and compounded under clean conditions, the MT series is designed for injection-moulding and extrusion applications, including medical device components, medical film, medical tubing, pharmaceutical packaging, and profile extrusion. When used in medical devices, undesired reactions such as inflammation, irritation, coagulation and calcification are minimised or non-existing.
From 30 -31 May 2017 about 50 industry professionals, mostly from Germany, gathered in Nuremberg on occasion of the TPE conference of the German Plastics Center (SKZ) to get an update on latest trends and developments in the field of TPE raw materials, regulation, and processing. While the established meeting point and networking platform was as usual conceived and chaired by Dr. Jürgen Schneider, TSRC, the venue was completely new. From now on the picturesque Bavarian city will annually host a TPE conference, organised alternately by the German Plastics Center (SKZ), the Association of German engineers (VDI) and the organisation of the German manufacturers of tyres and technical elastomers products (wdk) together with the German Rubber Society (DKG). This new schedule streamlines the calendar of TPE conferences in Germany and is the result of fruitful discussions within the TPE Forum, the new networking platform where the above mentioned organisations join hands with representatives from the industry.
The 4th International ATZ Conference on Vehicle Acoustics, Ruschlikon, Switzerland (11 – 12 July 2017) attracted over 250 experts from 17 countries. All segments of the automotive supply chain, from raw material suppliers to OEMS, discussed the implications of electric and hybrid vehicles on internal car acoustics. The impacts are significant. The masking noise of the internal combustion is removed and replaced by high frequency noise from electric motors, more awareness of road and wind noise and important frequency shifts in vibrations causing structure and airborne sounds. The rise of autonomous vehicles will remove constraints on the acoustic package imposed by having to provide a driver experience. More importantly, electric and hybrid cars are a new mobility experience which OEMs would like to brand to enhance customer loyalty. The acoustic package of electric vehicles is key to finding the sound of e-mobility.
With the many shifts in economic and political trends over the last year, many bio-based investments are focusing on the core of the bio-economy: bio-based building blocks and platform chemicals. nova-Institute’s preliminary market study “Bio-based Building Blocks and Polymers – Global Capacities and Trends 2016 – 2021”, reports on seventeen building blocks with an estimated total production capacity of 2.4 million t in 2016, expected to reach 3.5 million t in 2021, and with a CAGR of 8 %. Commercialisation and development of these novel building blocks are discussed in more detail in the new nova-Institute trend report “Commercialisation Updates on Bio-Based Building Blocks”. The rise and wane of the markets for several established bio-based building blocks are also discussed fully including various technology processes, feedstock usage, supply/demand, and pricing whenever available for both incumbent petrochemicals and their bio-based chemical alternatives.
Since their first appearance in the market, thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) have mainly been utilized in injection molding and have experienced some difficulties gaining ground in the extrusion world, as this has traditionally been dominated by vulcanized rubber on the one hand and plasticized PVC on the other. However, in recent years there has been a strong tendency to reconsider TPEs as suitable candidates for a number of extrusion applications – a trend favored mainly in the fields of drinking water and medicine as a result of more stringent hygienic requirements.
In the medical field, the dominant position of plasticized polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as a raw material for the production of medical devices stands as a clear reference to all market newcomers like TPE, which must conform to many common processing techniques applicable to PVC (e.g. solvent-bonding) or enable new applications and/or new alternative processes to be created in order to carve out their own market space. With regard to drinking water contact, the most common rubbery materials used for sealing and flexible pipes are vulcanized rubbers; in this field as well, TPEs need to challenge established market preferences or create new ones.
Electrically conductive thermoplastic compounds for injection moulding and extrusion are well-known . For mechanically flexible components mechanically flexible electrically conductive thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) are also available on the market, even though their usage is still limited. Their resistivity, though significantly higher than metals, already allows operation as shunts, low power heaters, explosion protection, electrically conductive sealing, recuperators, or flexible circuit paths. Adhesion optimised and flame retardant grades are available as well. The combination of conductive fillers (for example carbon black) and TPE requires an understanding of the filler network as well as of the TPE matrix and its processing behaviour. The subject of this article is to analyse the conductive behaviour of two or more phase systems consisting of a filler phase and a thermoplastic phase with a focus on soft and flexible materials. TPEs like TPS or TPV need high shear rates in the manufacturing process of compounding and injection moulding. In this article the influence of shear rate, flow direction and flow path on the conductivity of filled TPE is investigated.
Dielectric electroactive polymers (dEAP) may be used as artificial muscles, damping systems for machines or tactile displays in smartphones. They change their shape when a high voltage (kV) is applied. In this report, the production and function of a dEAP with a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) as a dielectric and electrodes made of a conductive polymer poly (3.4-ethylene-dioxythiophene) / polystyrene sulfonate (PEDOT/PSS) will be shown.
From the viewpoint of environmental benefits and cost reduction, thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPV) have been widely used in many industrial applications, particularly automotive weather seal applications. The adhesive properties between TPV and cured rubber are important in this situation. In this paper, we studied the factors contributing to the adhesion between TPV and cured rubber, and report about a new advanced Excelink TPV with excellent adhesion properties.
This paper reviews different types of high-temperature thermoplastic elastomers (TPE). The preparation, structure, and functional properties of these materials are discussed briefly. Strategies to further improve the high-temperature performance of these materials are presented herein. A synopsis of the applications of these high-performance materials in the automotive industry is reported, pointing out the gaps to motivate potential research in this field.
Part 1 of this article is dedicated to TPEs based on heat-resistant thermoplastics (see TPE Magazine issue 02/2017), the following part 2 is dedicated to TPEs based on heat resistance rubbers.