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Polyurethane Developments for Automotive Applications

utech (select to view enlarged photo)

LONDON & MAASTRICHT, The Netherlands--March 1, 2012: The increasingly important role of polyurethanes in the automotive industry will be evident at UTECH Europe this year, with experts discussing some of the latest advances relevant to the sector during the three-day conference. Running from 17-19 April at the MECC in Maastricht, the UTECH Europe Conference will cover major developments such as new lightweight composites for automotive components and tackle issues such as emissions, flame retardants, fogging and humid-ageing of foam products. Conference delegates and other UTECH visitors can also seek out the latest products and solutions for manufacturing polyurethane-based automotive components in the UTECH Europe exhibition which runs alongside the conference.

“Polyurethane-based products are ideally suited for making a wide range of automotive products, so they remain the most widely used polymer in the sector”

"Polyurethane-based products are ideally suited for making a wide range of automotive products, so they remain the most widely used polymer in the sector" says UTECH conference chairman David Reed. "Their versatility has led to applications ranging from bumpers to paint coatings and on into a wide range of interior components such as car seat cushioning, headrests, steering wheels, noise-suppressing carpets and air filters. But their continued use faces tough challenges ranging from European legislation to tightening standards, which vary from car-maker to car-maker. Accordingly anyone involved in the manufacture and supply of these polyurethane parts must be ahead of the game, making a visit to the UTECH event a valuable experience: in just three days they can meet with and discuss the very latest developments with representatives from most of the world's key specialists."

Automotive Conference Highlights

BASF Polyurethanes GmbH will open the Innovations Session on 17 April with a presentation on CosyPUR, which it describes as 'the ultimate foaming concept for flexible moulded applications,' and there will be a presentation from Bayer MaterialScience on advanced lightweight composites for automotive components.

The conference programme on 18 April includes a dedicated Flexible Foams session which covers gelling catalysts, halogen-free combustion-modified flexible foam, and additives to reduce emissions and enhance hydrophilicity. Antoine Fluhr of Johnson Controls Inc., Belgium, will discuss the latest developments in humid heat-aging of polyurethane foams in car seats. Joop Wuestenenk, Technical Development Manager of ICL--IP Europe BV, will give a presentation on sustainable flame retardant developments for low emission foam systems, and experts from SABA Dinxperlo BV will discuss the future in foam bonding, adhesive technology and systems. The flexible foam session programme closes with a paper on the long-block splitting system for converting foam blocks to usable products, delivered by Nina Patisson, Albrecht Baumer GmbH & Co. KG, Germany.

The conference session dedicated to CASE products (coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers) on 19 April will include a presentation from Huntsman Polyurethanes on modelling the influence of microstructure on sound-absorbing properties of polyurethane foam, an important concern in the automotive sector.

The issues covered in the conference session are highly topical, as Reed explains: "Matters such as lightweighting and reduction in fogging emissions from interior components such as foam seating, continue to dominate the automotive industry's concerns, while interest grows in the use of 'green' resources, such as products derived from renewable raw material. To meet these different challenges, the industry is increasingly turning to lightweight construction as a means to save fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, while efforts to reduce emissions from finished products are a strong focus for many suppliers to the sector."

Automotive Solutions in the Exhibition

Around the exhibition, visitors can find out about the latest developments in formulated systems for automotive applications as well as key ancillary chemicals such as surfactants, catalysts and flame retardants. Exhibitors include:

  • Bayer MaterialScience which has developed Bayflex® RIM Light Weight, a new material for bodywork parts produced using reaction injection moulding (RIM) giving end products which are even lighter than water. A sophisticated combination of fillers reduces the weight of the parts by 20 to 30 percent compared with conventional polyurethane solutions while retaining the mechanical properties, Bayer claims.
  • Huntsman who will be showcasing new VITROX® bonding solutions which bridge the performance gap between polyurethane and epoxy adhesives and are extremely useful for applications where heat-resistance is a fundamental consideration such as modern lightweight cars where engines and their associated components need to function in smaller, hotter spaces.
  • Shijiazhuang Hejia Chemical Products who will be talking to visitors about its balanced catalyst and delayed blowing catalyst for cold-moulded foams in car seat applications.
  • Milliken who will be showcasing pioneering additives including a 100-percent reactive ultraviolet light absorber suited to automotive clearcoats and epoxy coating applications.
  • ICL--IP Europe who will be exhibiting its full portfolio of flame retardants including the new Fyrol HF-5 non-halogen FR for flexible foam which passes the VW/Audi volatiles requirements and the Fyrol PNX-LE non-halogen FR for flexible foam which passes the extremely stringent Mercedes volatiles requirements.
  • Invista who will be showcasing Dytek® DCH-99 Amine for high-performance applications including aircraft fuselage, automotive parts and sporting goods.
  • Evonik who will be exhibiting a silicone surfactant that has been proven to reduce transmission of vibration through HR TDI or TM20 seating foam, improving passenger comfort. TEGOSTAB® has easy foam crushability and wide processing latitude and meets low VOC requirements. The firm will also be exhibiting a catalyst-free release agent for automotive seating applications and a new release agent for steering wheels with low VOC content providing a very matte surface.
  • AINY Ele-Mechanical who will be exhibiting the TODI urethane elastomer with unique heat and hydrolysis resistance properties making it suitable for car parts.
  • Chemtura Corporation who will be highlighting its new liquid LOWILITE® UV B1260 stabiliser which has outperformed conventional light stabiliser packages in fogging tests.

In terms of manufacturing technology and equipment:

  • Isotherm will be showing its developments for the use of solvent- and flush-free high-pressure technology for the production of automotive interior parts.
  • Desma Tec will be showing a new bumper production machine which offers automatic product de-moulding and stripping, fast mould and colour changes and a self cleaning mixing head. These machines can produce nine million bumpers a year.

Other key exhibitors offering polyurethane products and services for the automotive industry include Cannon, Plasfi, OMS, ISL-Chemie and all the major raw material suppliers, from Air Products and Chemicals to Yantai Polyurethanes Co Ltd of China.

Anyone wishing to attend the paid-for UTECH Europe conference and the exhibition can now register online at UTECH Europe. A wealth of travel and accommodation information is available on the event website UTECH Europe.

About UTECH Europe 2012:

Held at the MECC in Maastricht, where The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium meet, UTECH Europe 2012 is uniquely placed as the only truly international exhibition and conference for the polyurethanes industry. Unique to Europe is the sheer breadth of the applications of polyurethanes technology. From tiny medical devices to the roof insulation of the highest skyscrapers, polyurethane-based product applications are wide and varied. In 2009 UTECH attracted an audience of just under 3,000 decision makers from 85 countries and the sector is predicted to grow rapidly in the coming years.