CompositesWorld

AUG 2016

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Another ultralow-density SMC surfaces, a new "longest" in wind turbine blades, and thermoplastic RTM moves to market-readiness thanks to in-mold polymerization. AUTOMOTIVE BIZ BRIEF Dilutec (Senador Canedo and Piracicaba, Brazil), is a leading South American manufacturer of gel coat and thinner in Brazil, and a distributor of composites molding equipment. An exclusive agent of BÜFAtec Spain (Barcelona) in Brazil, Dilutec is expanding its distribution network in 2016. Currently, the company relies on four distributors in Brazil and one in Uruguay. Marcos Pannellini, commercial manager of Dilutec, says the intention is to accredit at least four more distributors by year's end, in the states of São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul, as well as partners that can sell its products elsewhere in South America. In Brazil, Dilutec's network currently consists of Assunção (Pernambuco and Paraíba), Bahia Fibra (Bahia), Mega Fibra (Rio de Janeiro) and Oticrel (Ceará) – Dimena, located in Montevideo (Uruguay), completes the list. In the Brazilian Central-West region, retail is covered by Dilutec, which has a unit located in Senador Canedo, in the metropolitan area of Goiânia. In 2015, distribution accounted for 20% of Dilutec's revenues, a share that should increase to 35% with the additional distributors. AUGUST 2016 18 CompositesWorld TRENDS Prompted by customer demand for a tough, low-density, E-coat-capable, cost-effective SMC, Ashland Performance Materials (Columbus, OH, US) has developed Arotran 771, the company's newest sheet molding compound (SMC), designed specifically for use in automotive applications. Arotran 771. It offers a specific gravity of 1.2, and represents a substantial increase in Ashland SMC performance, reportedly comparable to that of the first SMC to test as low as 1.2, TCA Ultra Lite, introduced in 2015 by Continental Structural Plastics (CSP, Auburn Hills, MI, US; see short.compositesworld.com/ CSP-LDSMC). Specific gravity, a measure of a material's density, impacts its weight, a critical concern for automakers. Michael J. Sumner, Ashland's group leader — gel coat, SMC, marine resin, says the company is trialing Arotran 771 with several customers involved in the automotive supply chain. In the meantime, Ashland isn't standing pat. Sumner reports that the company is already working on chemis- tries designed to push SMC specific gravity down to 1.1 and, eventually, to 1.0. In terms of weight and cost savings for automakers, that's the magic number. "If we can get to 1.0," Sumner asserts, "we can effectively compete with aluminum." And those products could come on the market relatively soon. At SPE's Thermoset Topcon conference (April 19-20), Sumner walked attendees through the just-announced SMC's development history, with particular emphasis on the evaluation of resin performance. Ashland had looked at various combinations of vinyl ester and unsaturated poly- ester resin (UPR), testing for finished part surface quality, mechanical performance, T g and E-coat tolerance. Initial tests of surface quality, as measured by advanced laser surface analyzer (ALSA), showed that a 50/50 blend of vinyl ester and UPR was optimal, with an ALSA value of 64. Ashland added reactive toughener (at 5 wt%) to the mix and got very good mechani- cal values: tensile strength of 85 MPa, tensile modulus of 8,600 MPa, flexural strength of 182 MPa, flexural modulus of 8,200 MPa and elongation of 1.41%. Drop dart impact resis- tance is 3.1J. Further testing, Sumner says, revealed that the selection of initiator system and mold temperature can influence part quality. Ashland conducted a series of tests, combining different initiators with mold temperatures of 121°C or 150°C, and then evalu- ating finished samples for surface quality and mechanical properties. The best-performing combination included the reactive toughener and a mold temperature in the 121-150°C range. To assess E-coat performance, Sumner says Ashland fabricated several SMC panels to a Ford Motor Co. (Dearborn, MI, US) specification and ran them through the Ford E-coat test protocol, involving exposure to 38°C and 100% humidity for 10 days, followed by short-term exposure to 200°C heat. The panels showed absorption of 2.25% with no blistering — the latter is a requirement for test success. Ashland unveils SMC with specific gravity of 1.2, aims for 1.0 Source | Ashland

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