In October 2021, PLASTRON® LFT business was transferred from Daicel and Daicel Miraizu to Polyplastics.
PLASTRON is resin in which reinforcing fibers (glass fibers and carbon fibers) of the same length are incorporated into resin pellets in the same direction. As a material which has both rigidity and high impact strength that are unattainable with conventional fiber-reinforced resins, it helps reduce weight in a broad range of applications, from industrial products such as industrial-use pump housings and fitting parts of civil engineering pipes to various functional parts and structural members of automobiles and motorcycles.
We are also currently developing long cellulose fiber reinforced thermoplastics which are environmentally friendly. This cellulose is a renewable, inedible biomaterial that is at no risk of ever running out. Also, by incorporating this cellulose into resin as a reinforcing material, the CO2 emissions over the entire life cycle of the product can be reduced. It further contributes to reduced CO2 emissions thanks to the greater fuel efficiency achieved when it is used to lighten the parts of vehicles.
With regard to product quality, as well, many years of study into cellulose materials and research and development utilizing long fiber-reinforced thermoplastic resin manufacturing technology has enabled us to produce a product which is markedly stronger than conventional cellulose fiber compound resins.
We will continue developing resins which are both functional and environmentally-friendly and offering them to our customers, all for the sake of helping to realize a more sustainable society.
This is a long fiber (6mm-30mm), reinforced resin. For the base resin, any type of engineering plastics from general purpose PP resin to PPS resin can be used. It is distinctive in that glass, carbon, cellulose and other fibers of the same length are incorporated into resin pellets in the same direction. In addition to rigidity, it offers improved impact strength and is seen as a potential commercial material that can be used in place of metal.
To achieve carbon neutrality, the shift from conventional fossil fuel-derived energy to renewable energy such as solar, wind, and geothermal power, and biomass that is clean and does not increase atmospheric CO2 is attracting attention. This global energy conversion mega-trend will require equipment for a new power network of the future.
Our group company, TOPAS Advanced Polymers GmbH in Germany, has joined together with Borealis, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of polypropylene (PP), to develop a new, ethylene-propylene-norbornene (EPN) material suited for use as a film capacitor dielectric in power network equipment. PP resin, which is frequently used as a dielectric for conventional capacitors, is inexpensive, but its durability temperature remains at a max. 105℃, while EPN achieves high heat resistance up to 140℃ while being inexpensive.
Capacitors can be used at higher temperatures, reducing the space required to suppress the effects of heat generated inside switching components used throughout power networks, downsizing the component itself. Therefore, it is possible to reduce the size and construction cost of power transmission and substation equipment, and to reduce the size and improve fuel efficiency of final products such as EVs that use the transmitted electricity. Thus, it is anticipated that this material will contribute to lower costs and greater efficiency across the entire renewable energy power network.
In addition, the increased heat resistance can further reduce the deterioration of the dielectric due to heat, which leads to a longer product life, making it suitable for use in wind power generation equipment installed on the ocean where it is difficult to repair or replace parts.
At Polyplastics, we are helping to facilitate widespread adoption of renewable energy through the development of new materials that are more cost-efficient and functional.
At Polyplastics, we use CAE* analysis technology to support product development by our customers. This technology simulates the problems which arise during the product design, mold design and injection molding processes, such as problems with resin flow during injection molding and defects caused when force is applied to the product after molding.
As an engineering plastics expert manufacturer, we at Polyplastics have a vast wealth of accumulated CAE analysis-related knowledge and experience which we are able to use to provide extremely precise predictions that can be used as the basis for predicting appropriate lifespan and for developing product designs. This analysis makes it possible to reduce the amount of trial production that would typically need to be performed during development, thus reducing the amount of materials used in making prototypes and molds, as well as the amount of energy used to perform molding.
In recent years, we have been developing even more advanced analysis technology and have developed a highly precise method for addressing the extremely difficult task of predicting deformation trends when heat is reapplied (reflow process) to molded products in order to solder parts, thereby further reducing the amount of trial production.
We use the experience and technology which we have cultivated over many years to help our customers even reduce resource and energy consumption in their development process.
Polyplastics Research and Development Division is continually developing new products and technologies to meet the latest needs of customers and society. In FY2021, two employees in the Research and Development Division were the recipients of a prestigious award from an academic society for their research.
POM, which is used extensively in the fuel-related components of automobiles, tends to degrade in strength and other characteristics when subjected to fuel swelling (because a very small amount of the fuel seeps into the POM).
Polyplastics researched how POM changes when subjected to heat and compared this with unheated POM to understand the sorts of changes which occur in the molecular structure of molded POM during fuel swelling. This research revealed the mechanisms by which the POM polymer, which exhibits softening in all three phase structures (amorphous, crystal and intermediate phases) when subjected to heat, softens only in the amorphous and intermediate phases when subjected to fuel swelling.
Given that no research previously compared the microstructural changes between heating and fuel swelling, nor encompassed a multifaceted investigation into the phase-specific changes, including the hard-to-observe intermediate phase, these results were recognized as groundbreaking and deserving of this award.
The elucidation of the molecular mechanism can be expected to be useful for developing fuel swelling resistance grades and for improving the accuracy of defect prediction.
With the increasing electrification of automobiles, the technology for integrated molding of metal and plastic, known as “insert molding,” is becoming more widespread. However, due to the difference in the coefficient of linear expansion between metal and plastic, accumulated residual stress can lead to problems such as thermal shock breakage of the molded product; thus, it is important to ascertain and manage this issue.
Although technology for measuring residual stress within molded products already exists, the award given to Polyplastics was for the development of new, physical property evaluation technology which can be used to create quantitative and highly precise predictions in real-time of residual stress in injection molded resins while they are in the process of solidifying, regardless of shape.This highly precise prediction technology will not only help customers produce more efficient and effective product designs, as well as improve product reliability and lifespan, it can also contribute to more appropriate and effective use of resources.
Polyplastics will continue to pursue the development of technologies and products that add value to society.