March 20, 2012 Volume 08 Issue 11

Materials News & Products

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Resins: Alkali stress crack resistance for automotive

The Polyplastics Group recently introduced a new polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) resin that delivers excellent alkali stress crack resistance for a range of automotive applications. DURANEX 532AR also exhibits outstanding hydrolysis, heat shock resistance, and electrical performance for components in the chassis and engine compartment. This material has successfully reduced the risk of cracking in molded articles by preventing alkali (often formed by rust on metal parts) from penetrating the inside of the resin, thus imparting toughness that helps generate less stress. Ideal for use in parts (like electrical components and sensors) installed in the chassis section and lower areas of vehicles.
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Solvay develops sustainable Halar ECTFE anti-corrosion coating system

Solvay's new waterborne Halar ECTFE coating system broadens metal corrosion-prevention applications for the chemical processing industry. The coating system is comprised of a high-adhesion primer and topcoat and is easily applied using standard liquid spray equipment. Solvay's Halar ECTFE powder coatings have been used for corrosion prevention for over 40 years for equipment in a range of industries including acids, mining, pulp and paper, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and semiconductor, among others. The new waterborne Halar ECTFE liquid coating tech expands the range of end-use applications to those that are difficult or impossible to powder coat. This includes complex shapes, uneven surfaces, oversized vessels, pipe interiors, and tanks and containers. Moreover, it provides engineers an alternative protective metal coating option to corrosion-resistant alloys (CRAs).
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Xometry receives ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D certifications

Xometry, the world's largest digital manufacturing marketplace, recently announced that it has received ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100D certifications. These certifications are among the industry's most rigorous and reflect the company's commitment to quality. ISO 9001 is the world's most widely recognized quality management standard and helps organizations to meet the expectations and needs of their customers. The AS9100 standard goes beyond the requirements of ISO 9001 to meet the rigorous demands of the aerospace and defense industries.
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Victrex and Bond pioneer 3D printing for PAEK and PEEK parts

To help customers with an accelerated route to market for 3D-printed PAEK and PEEK parts, UK-based Victrex has secured a multi-million-euro investment in Dutch 3D-printing company Bond High Performance 3D Technology. What's significant is that Bond's technology is capable of printing complex, functional parts made of PAEK/PEEK with excellent mechanical properties, including in the z-direction. This enables the additive manufacturing of high-strength, isotropic parts with properties comparable to conventional molded or machined PEEK parts.
Read the full article.


Helpful tips for molding PEEK polymer

Are you a first-time molder of PEEK? Or maybe you've tried molding it and have run into problems? This article from Victrex presents five important considerations in the injection molding process that can help you avoid the need for troubleshooting when molding PEEK polymer. Following this advice can also help you optimize the full potential of this high-performance material.
Read the Victrex tips article.


Top Product: Allite Super Magnesium

Weighing 33 percent less than aluminum, while also being stiffer and stronger pound for pound, the new Allite Super Magnesium alloy has shown its mettle in classified defense and aerospace applications. Now it's available for wider use. This material is less expensive than carbon fiber and has the lowest carbon footprint of any structural material throughout the value chain. Industry applications include home improvement, sporting goods, aerospace, automotive, biking, and beyond. Three alloy variants available to suit welding, forming/forging, or casting. These alloys feature excellent shock-absorption properties, good electromagnetic shielding performance, good heat dissipation, and recyclability. Allite is based in Dayton, OH.
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Replace metals with hard materials

The use of sapphire, ceramics, and other hard materials has significant advantages over metal, depending on the application. The materials machined at Insaco are harder and stronger in compression than most metals. They can be electrically or thermally insulating or conducting, and in the case of sapphire, can be polished optically clear to a surface finish less than 1 micro inch. This allows for selecting a material based on the most important material property required and allows for versatility in selecting the material that makes the most sense. When a low-cost part must be frequently replaced because of a harsh environment, looking to hard materials may be the key to lowering overall cost. Learn more about metal replacement materials in this informative Insaco article.
Read the full article.


Desktop Metal launches 316L stainless steel for 3D printing

Desktop Metal, a 3D-printer maker, has just announced the launch of 316L stainless steel for the company's Studio System, the world's first and only office-friendly metal 3D-printing system. This machine is great for prototyping and low-volume production. A fully austenitic steel known for its corrosion resistance and excellent mechanical properties at extreme temperatures, 316L is well suited for applications in the most demanding industrial environments, including salt water in marine applications, caustic cleaners found in food processing environments, and chemicals in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
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Selecting the best option for coloring plastics products

Designers of plastic products know the importance of choosing a dynamic color in order for a product to stand out from the competition. Not surprisingly, many are not as familiar with the fundamentals of color matching in plastic and the challenges certain resins can pose. Unfortunately, often this isn't discovered until deep into the product development cycle and after considerable time and money are invested in the project.
Read the full article.


Photo etching thin titanium components

Tech-Etch specializes in the photo chemical etching of titanium. Because of its low weight, strength, and corrosion resistance, titanium is used in everything from jet engines to eyeglass frames. And because titanium is inert and completely biocompatible, it is also used in many medical implantation applications, as well as anode and cathode battery current collectors and telemetry antennas found in implanted medical devices.
Get the Tech-Etch Precision Engineered Parts capabilities brochure (no registration required).


Cool Tools: World's darkest spray paint

A whole range of products can now take advantage of the world's blackest coating, Vantablack, thanks to the development of a new spray version called Vantablack S-VIS. It is easily applied at large scale to virtually any surface. Vantablack's carbon nanotube matrix structure absorbs virtually all (99.8 percent) incident light, enabling precision optical systems to be optimized. The material's developer, UK-based Surrey NanoSystems, has mimicked the performance of its original Vantablack with this new version that can be sprayed onto objects, rather than deposited using a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process.
Click here to learn more.


Expanded TPE portfolio for soft-touch surfaces

The new FG/SF THERMOLAST K series compounds from KRAIBURG TPE provide design flexibility, cost-effective processability, and flawless surface quality. They comply with all established automotive standards set by OEMs with regard to emission and odor, and they also provide permanent UV stability. The flexible materials are available in hardness grades ranging between 50 and 80 Shore A. They offer excellent adhesion to polypropylene in two-component applications and provide attractive, satin-finished surfaces with a pleasant soft-touch feel and permanent abrasion resistance.
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Know your materials: Nylon 12CF

FDM Nylon 12CF is a chopped carbon fiber-filled polyamide 12 material that is available for 3D printing on compatible Stratasys Fortus production systems. The material is 35 percent carbon fiber by weight and has a high strength-to-weight ratio with a tensile strength on par with high-performance FDM material. The 3D design and rapid prototyping specialists at TriMech run through what you need to know about this exciting and versatile material.
Read the TriMech blog.


Cool Tools: Desktop full-color 3D printer

The all-new XRIZE desktop industrial 3D printer enables users to manufacture functional polymer and composite parts in full color. And since RIZE's intelligent and innovative solutions focus on the user as much as the machine, XRIZE is easy to use, safe, and enables markup to provide much-desired IP security, traceability, and branding. This machine requires minimal pre-processing, post-processing, and material management. It uses a patented Augmented Deposition process by extruding an engineering-grade thermoplastic and simultaneously jetting C-M-Y-K inks through industrial printheads to achieve the full-color part. Build volume is 12 x 8 x 8 in. (310 x 200 x 200 mm). New carbon fiber materials also available.
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New food-grade high-performance PEEK polymers

To help OEMs meet the stringent regulatory and quality demands affecting the food equipment industry, Victrex is introducing a dedicated PEEK food-grade portfolio. Compared to metal components, the new VICTREX FG family of high-performing thermoplastics offers additional benefits in terms of cost effectiveness, productivity, and performance for OEMs -- and the neutral taste expected by consumers. In addition, with the adoption of Industry 4.0 technology, VICTREX PEEK can offer food and beverage manufacturers the opportunity to optimize efficiency and reduce production costs, when compared to the use of metals.
Learn more.


New energy-conversion record set for polymer solar cells: 10.6%

By Wileen Wong Kromhout, UCLA

In the effort to convert sunlight into electricity, photovoltaic solar cells that use conductive organic polymers for light absorption and conversion have shown great potential. Organic polymers can be produced in high volumes at low cost, resulting in photovoltaic devices that are cheap, lightweight, and flexible. In the last few years, a lot work has been done to improve the efficiency with which these devices convert sunlight into power, including the development of new materials, device structures, and processing techniques.

In a new study published last week in the journal Nature Photonics, researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and UCLA's California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI) report that they have significantly enhanced polymer solar cells' performance by building a device with a new "tandem" structure that combines multiple cells with different absorption bands. The device had a certified power-conversion efficiency of 8.62% and set a world record in July 2011.

Further, after the researchers incorporated a new infrared-absorbing polymer material provided by Sumitomo Chemical of Japan into the device, the device's architecture proved to be widely applicable and the power-conversion efficiency jumped to 10.6% - a new record - as certified by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

By using cells with different absorption bands, tandem solar cells provide an effective way to harvest a broader spectrum of solar radiation. However, the efficiency doesn't automatically increase by simply combining two cells. The materials for the tandem cells have to be compatible with each other for efficient light harvesting, the researchers say.

Tandem solar cell.

 

 

Until now, the performance of tandem devices lagged behind single-layer solar cells, mainly due to this lack of suitable polymer materials. UCLA Engineering researchers have demonstrated highly efficient single-layer and tandem polymer solar cells featuring a low-band-gap conjugated polymer specially designed for the tandem structure. The band gap determines the portion of the solar spectrum a polymer absorbs.

"Envision a double-decker bus," says Yang Yang, a professor of materials science and engineering at UCLA Engineering and principal investigator on the research. "The bus can carry a certain number of passengers on one deck, but if you were to add a second deck, you could hold many more people for the same amount of space. That's what we've done here with the tandem polymer solar cell."

To use solar radiation more effectively, Yang's team stacked, in series, multiple photoactive layers with complementary absorption spectra to construct a tandem polymer solar cell. Their tandem structure consists of a front cell with a larger (or high) band gap material and a rear cell with a smaller (or low) band gap polymer, connected by a designed interlayer. When compared to a single-layer device, the tandem device is more efficient in utilizing solar energy, particularly by minimizing other energy losses. By using more than one absorption material, each capturing a different part of the solar spectrum, the tandem cell is able to maintain the current and increase the output voltage. These factors enable the increase in efficiency, according to the researchers. "The solar spectra is very broad and covers the visible as well as the invisible, the infrared and the UV," says Shuji Doi, research group manager for Sumitomo Chemical. "We are very excited that Sumitomo's low-band-gap polymer has contributed to the new record efficiency."

"We have been doing research in tandem solar cells for a much shorter length of time than in the single-junction devices," says Gang Li, a member of the research faculty at UCLA Engineering and a co-author of the Nature Photonics paper. "For us to achieve such success in improving the efficiency in this short time period truly demonstrates the great potential of tandem solar cell technology."

"Everything is done by a very low-cost, wet-coating process," Yang says. "As this process is compatible with current manufacturing, I anticipate this technology will become commercially viable in the near future."

This study opens up a new direction for polymer chemists to pursue designs of new materials for tandem polymer solar cells. Furthermore, it indicates an important step toward the commercialization of polymer solar cells. Yang says his team hopes to reach 15% efficiency in the next few years.

Published March 2012

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