AZoM talks to Mitch Johnson, PhD, Senior Technical Director of General Plastics Manufacturing Co, about the many applications and benefits of polyurethane, especially for soft tooling.
Could you please give a brief overview of General Plastics and how it is involved in the polyurethane industry?
General Plastics has been in business for over 70 years and we’ve been located in Tacoma, WA the entire time. We manufacture both rigid and flexible foams, including molded foam parts and machined parts. We’ve been manufacturing polyurethane foam for a number of decades, really since the mid- fifties.
Could you give an introduction to polyurethane and the different types that you work with?
Polyurethanes are a family of incredibly versatile industrial products and most people use these products every day. To make polyurethane foam, you can mix an isocyanate and, in this case a formulated polyol, so that they polymerize at room temperature to form a cellular plastic . It’s really a process that requires very little energy and can utilize renewable resources.
Polyurethanes are used a lot in flexible foams, but coatings are also a huge application. They can be very flexible, very tough materials and the formulation capabilities for urethanes are really endless. There’s so many combinations you can put together to achieve different properties.
We manufacture a lot of rigid foam and we’re considered a high density rigid foam manufacturer. We do make some three and four PCF (pounds per cubic foot) foam, but we do a lot in the 10 to 40 PCF range. In industry, that’s considered high density urethane foam.
Which industries typically use polyurethane?
The biggest industry for rigid polyurethane foam is insulation, including spray foams for insulation of walls, refrigerators, coolers, as well as automotive applications.
We are in more of a niche industry which caters to tooling and core materials. For example making sandwich panels, where there is a layer of fiberglass or carbon fiber, then a layer of foam, and then a layer of the same carbon fiber or fiberglass on the opposite side. That material will be much, much stronger and stiffer for the weight and lighter in weight than a solid sheet of all carbon or glass fiber. As I touched on before, one of our largest markets is the aerospace industry, where strength and light weight are the keys to success.
Staying on that topic, what are the benefits are of using polyurethane in those applications, compared to some traditional materials?
Traditionally, rigid polyurethane foam can be considered a synthetic wood. Wood is a very strong material, but it carries a lot of moisture with it and there can be a lot of variation in density, strength, resin content and possibility of decay over time.
The rigid polyurethane foam that we make is closed celled, so it doesn’t absorb moisture, does not support microbial or fungal growth and will last forever if protected from UV light. A urethane foam core will maintain its properties over the life of the part, if properly designed.
How does General Plastics generally manufacture these foams and how are you unique in that area?
Of course it’s all proprietary information and we have special manufacturing processes, but I think we want to communicate that we are a vertically integrated company. We bring in basic feedstocks, and formulate all of our own formulations.
We are also able to customize things on a batch basis - that’s really one of our strengths, being able to develop and manufacture small, short runs of bun stock or sheet stock products for customers. We have a very fast turnaround with types of projects.
Could you highlight what tooling board is and what tooling boards you particularly make?
Tools in general are basically molds or shapes that you can make composite or thermoform parts from. Our polyurethane tools are a low cost, very fast way to make those types of tools.
Traditionally, those tools have been made out of wood or metal, but with urethane you’re able to get a much more dimensionally stable material than with wood, and obtain much tighter tolerances over time, because wood of course is very sensitive to environmental conditions such as heat and moisture.
You can machine these very complex shapes from polyurethane, and our tooling boards are able to hold very sharp edges and hold tolerances. There’s also very low residual stress on our materials - they don’t warp and move around on you.
Most urethanes are designed to be used at fairly low temperatures such as room temperatures typical for ‘wet lay-up applications’, or low temperature curing Prepregs. So it’s been in the last couple of years that we’ve been looking at foamed polymers for much higher temperature processes. This allows the use of a much wider variety of composite matrix resins and curing requirements.
Could you go into a little bit more detail perhaps about why you would use a soft tool over a metallic tool?
The biggest driver is project cost. Machining or shaping aluminum tools is quite expensive time consuming and it’s also a challenge to do a very large aluminum tool because you always have seams to bring together and then you have a potential for vacuum leaks.
Also, for example, if you’re only going to make 1-4 parts off of it, using a metallic material like INVAR would be very expensive and time consuming. So that’s where soft tooling comes in, because you can machine it very quickly, seal it and pull a part off if it. This makes it a much lower cost process in terms of raw materials compared to using aluminum or metallic tooling in general. However, foam tools can usually not hold extremely tight tolerances that an INVAR tool can maintain, there are always trade-offs. Metallic tools traditionally used for larger runs of parts due to durability and repeatability.
Why are the curing times crucial for success?
Polyurethane foams for tooling typically range from around 20 PCF up to 50 PCF, and they are much better insulators than aluminum. Aluminum of course conducts heat (about 4000 greater than 20 pcf PU foam), and so you get cure from both sides of your composite and you can cool it much more quickly as well.
Urethane foams are good thermal insulators, so the part only sees heat from the side exposed to the hot air . So it takes longer to cure out the part, because you usually have to ramp your temperature slower and dwell longer to achieve proper cure of the composite part.
When looking at the ‘cool down’ aspect, the foam is hotter on the outer surface than the inside. This causes the foam to expand more on the outer surface of the foam. When the oven or autoclave begin to cool, the outer shell of the foam begins to faster than the warmer foam below the surface. This is due to low thermal conductivity of the foam. If you cool it too fast, the outer surface can crack requiring repair.
Engineers selecting to use foam as a tooling substrate need to be account for the thermal expansion, and the ability to move heat in and out of the foam. We typically recommend requesting a small test block of foam, which we run some quick test on first to validate the cure cycle that you want to use This is the best way to validate calculations.
Looking into the future, are there any advancements on the horizon in terms of tooling or polyurethane?
A couple of years ago we started selling a product called FR-4700, and that material is made of a high temperature resin that can handle the high temperature curing cycles required by advanced composite parts. There are very few other products on the market that are as low cost, rapidly machinable and is easy to work with.
With this product, composite tooling can be made from a monolithic foam master using BMI matrix resins.
So down the road, what we’re looking at doing is reducing that thermal expansion and increasing the thermal conductivity so the tool is more true to the desired final shape, so there is less compensation to be calculated. This increase in thermal conductivity will also shorten cycle times. That’s where General Plastics is heading in the future - low cost, soft tooling that has more metallic-like properties.
To summarize, that the ability to adjust the foam properties to the desired outcome of the process is one of our strengths. That’s something that we want to encourage customers to always request. If they need a process that doesn’t quite fit any current offerings, we can have a discussion about what they really need their process to do and work with them to develop this.
For more information regarding high-temperature, high-density epoxy-urethane foam, register for the new General Plastics Webinar.
Nominations Sought for Polyurethane Innovation Award
WASHINGTON (April 3, 2014) - The Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) of the American Chemistry Council today opened the call for entries for its 2014 Polyurethane Innovation Award. This award recognizes visionary technologies in the global polyurethanes industry and commercialized the previous year.
Nominations for this year's award must be submitted to CPI no later than 5 p.m. EDT on June 18. Click here for the award rules and entry form. The award winner will be announced during the 2014 Polyurethanes Technical Conference, which will be held Sept. 22 to 24 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Dallas.
"Each year, we are impressed by the breadth and depth of innovation in the polyurethanes industry and its downstream partners," said Lee Salamone, senior director of CPI. "CPI's Polyurethane Innovation Award seeks to recognize the exciting and visionary technologies, products and initiatives being developed around the world."
The 2013 Innovation Award winner, Romeo RIM, Inc.'s Class A, In-mold Decorated Long Fiber Injection, will also be showcased at this year's conference.
Award entries in polyurethane chemistry may include raw materials, finished products, initiatives, training or education programs, or processes or processing equipment. Entries pertaining to a polyurethane product or polyurethane manufacturing must relate to polyurethane chemistry, defined as the reaction of an isocyanate with a polyol.
Entries must represent innovations that have not previously been submitted for consideration for the Innovation Award and have not been available for commercial sales longer than 15 months prior to June 18, 2014.
All eligible submissions will be evaluated by a panel of judges comprised of experts representing technical disciplines and the polyurethane supply chain. Judges will determine three finalists from the entries based on impact on the polyurethanes industry, uniqueness of the innovation, quality of the science and societal impact.
Conference attendees will vote for one of the three finalists during the Opening Session of the Polyurethanes Technical Conference on Monday, Sept. 22. The judges' scores will represent two-thirds of the final score, while the attendees' votes will be tabulated for the final one-third of the score to determine the 2014 Polyurethane Innovation Award winner.
Each of the three finalists will be notified by July 28 and will receive one complimentary, full registration to the 2014 Polyurethanes Technical Conference. During the Opening Session of the conference, finalists will give a three-minute presentation on their innovation, which will also be featured in the conference poster sessions. The winner of the 2014 Innovation Award will be announced on Wednesday, Sept. 24, during the Closing Session.
How to enter
Companies or individuals interested in entering the award program must submit an application no later than 5 p.m. EDT on June 18. Incomplete or late submissions will not be considered. Details on the award, including an entry form, can be found on the CPI website.
For more information on the 2014 Polyurethanes Technical Conference, visit www.americanchemistry.com/polyurethane. Several sponsorship opportunities, including Industry Reception and assorted session sponsorships, are still available. Get the latest updates and conference news on LinkedIn and Twitter. Follow @AmChemEvents and use the hashtag #PUtech to join the conversation.
INDIANAPOLIS, March 27, 2014
INDIANAPOLIS, March 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Vertellus Specialty Materials, a division of Vertellus Specialties and a leading supplier to the coatings and sealants industry, will introduce two new Polycin® polyols at the American Coatings Show in Atlanta, Georgia, April 8 - 10.
The products, Polycin® XP – 100 LV and Polycin® XP – 200 LV, have excellent utility in industrial coatings applications and allow coatings formulators the ability to increase solids and lower VOCs without sacrificing other key performance characteristics.
"One serious drawback to solvent borne acrylic urethane coatings is the high level of VOCs, which are required to allow them to have good application characteristics," says Dr. Tim Miller, Technical Director at Vertellus Specialties. "The Polycin® polyol line from Vertellus is generally used as a reactive diluent in SB acrylic urethane coatings. Polycin® XP 100 LV and Polycin® XP 200 LV were developed to assist in meeting lower VOC targets in high solid coatings," Miller adds.
Key features of Vertellus' Polycin® XP – 100 LV and Polycin® XP – 200 LV:
- 100% solids
- Low Viscosity and Excellent Viscosity Reducing Power
- Moisture Resistance
- Excellent Compatibility with Acrylic Resins
- Good Chemical Resistance
- Good Film Hardness
- Excellent Pigment Wetting
Miller will be a featured speaker at the conference's Polyurethanes II session, and will speak on "New Reactive Diluents for 2K Solvent Borne Polyurethane Coatings" on April 8th at 2 p.m. in room C205.
"We hope attendees walk away with a better understanding of our new offerings at Vertellus and stop by our booth to have further discussions about these and other products," Miller says. "Vertellus offers a full range of polyols and we feel the market will be excited to learn of these two newly developed Polycins® polyols."
Vertellus offers a full line of castor oils and castor oil derivatives, including refined castor oils, polymerized castor oils, dehydrated castor oils and hydroxy waxes.
Vertellus representatives will be at Booth #2225 at the conference to answer any questions about their product line.
ABB (USA) announces the introduction of the new MB3600-CH70 Polyol Analyser, a rugged and high-performance industrial FT-NIR spectrometer for R&D and QA/QC applications on polyols and derivatives. This spectrometer is intended for chemical industry laboratories that perform a large number of daily measurements for QA/QC analysis or at-line process support. It is particularly adapted for applications in the fields of polyols and polyurethanes.
The MB3600-CH70 is a maintenance-free bench analyser enabling fast determination of several quality properties in liquid chemicals. It captures over 20 years of expertise in polyol analysis, in particular for the determination of hydroxyl value (OH) an important quality estimator for organic compounds. The OH value measures the amount of reactive hydroxyl groups available for reaction and provides critical information on distribution and range of chain lengths.
The MB3600-CH70 features a set of pre-loaded calibration models with operator interface for immediate OH value determination in polyols and derivatives. This approach is easier, cleaner and significantly faster than the primary titration methods that require toxic solvents; it makes the MB3600-CH70 a true turnkey solution operational from the day of installation. Users can access an extensive library of FT-NIR spectra and additional custom calibrations can be developed on the MB3600-CH70 for rapid measurement of more quality parameters such as iodine value, acid value, saponification number, amine content, isocyanate content and TDI isomer ratio.
- See more at: http://www.envirotech-online.com/news/environmental-laboratory/7/abb_measurement_products/new_turnkey_analyser_for_polyols_and_derivatives/29173/#sthash.I6x1avUV.dpuf
Dow Intros New Polyurethane Backing System
- Analyst Blog By Zacks.com, February 21, 2014, 05:10:01 PM EDT
The Dow Chemical Company ( DOW ) has unveiled the new ENFORCER Sport polyurethane backing system that will help turf producers to increase yarn yield at lower energy-consumption levels during production, without affecting the line speed and productivity. Tufters can use polyurethane on the existing equipments with minimum modifications. The ENFORCER Sport polyurethane backing system will also benefit the turf field owners by reducing thermal stress, thereby improving yarn durability.
The uniqueness of the new polyurethane system is that it can be cured at temperatures in a range of 85-100°C, depending on oven efficiency compared with the conventional coatings that require processing temperatures of up to 150°C for curing, thus conserving energy. The new system also incorporates features, such as, excellent tuft lock and increased stiffness. The low temperature catalyzed system utilizes a cooler that helps improve yarn yield, reduce yarn tips and enhance turf life.
In the new polyurethane system, no water or solvents are used to evaporate, thus allowing for faster line speeds than other coating materials. It also requires less make-up air to cure, saving energy. Apart from these benefits, the new polyurethane system can be custom-made to the existing production process, enabling strong tuft lock, while at the same time retaining tuft lock properties when wet due to the hydrophobic nature of polyurethane coatings. Also, during installation, polyurethane backings provide an excellent bond to the polyurethane seam adhesives, thus enabling longer durability.
Read more: http://www.nasdaq.com/article/dow-intros-new-polyurethane-backing-system-analyst-blog-cm328842#ixzz2uFim1wAl
West Lebanon, NH (PRWEB) February 18, 2014
Rollerblade®, international leader in the inline skate industry, kicked off 2014 with the debut of its latest innovation: Hydrogen Wheels. The new wheels are made in the U.S, available in five different sizes, and can already be found on several skates within Rollerblade’s inventory, as well as purchased separately to turn old inline skates into fast and smooth super skates.
The Hydrogen Wheels technology combines a proprietary urethane formula, scooped cores and hub integration. The urethane formula has more grip and a faster rebound no matter what terrain you’re taking on, ensuring maximum control and the smoothest skate possible. The core is strategically designed to add flex for more power and energy into the stride. These elements are bonded together so the hub properly supports the urethane for consistent performance, speed, cornering and momentum with less effort. The Hydrogen wheels also provide optimal resilience and increased longevity for inline skates.
Rollerblade’s Hydrogen Wheels are available in five sizes: 80mm, 84mm, 90mm, 100mm and 110mm. The new wheels can be found on a few different Rollerblade models, including the Maxxum, a hybrid skate that delivers new levels of support and control to fitness skating, the Powerblade GT, a premium fitness performance skate and the Fusion GM, a high performance urban skate perfect for navigating city streets. The wheels can also be purchased separately to upgrade any pair of skates instantly.
Ronnie Kuliecza, product development manager at Rollerblade, is excited for the level of performance the Hydrogen Wheels bring to inline skaters, as well as increased options for customizing the perfect skate. “The Hydrogen wheels are truly top of the line. The innovation behind the design makes it one of Rollerblade’s most exciting releases to date,” says Kuliecza, "This is something exciting to the industry and we are thrilled to be bringing this technology to our customers."
Rollerblade® is an international leader in the inline skate industry and founder of one of the fastest growing sports, with more than 17.3 million participants worldwide. Headquartered locally in West Lebanon, NH, and internationally based in Giavera, Italy, Rollerblade is a top innovator in inline skates, accessories and gear with over 250 patented products. Today many athletes, fitness fanatics and thrill seekers enjoy the benefits of inline skating as it continues to grow as a lifestyle sport for all levels to experience. To learn more visit http://www.rollerblade.com/, “like” Rollerblade on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RollerbladeUSA or follow the company on Twitter @GoRollerblade.
Call for Abstracts for Polyurethane Foam Association
Technical Program in St. Petersburg, Fla
March 7 is the deadline for submitting abstracts
Loudon, TN –March 7 is the deadline for submitting proposals for technical presentation requests and abstracts for the May 1, 2014 Polyurethane Foam Association (PFA) Technical Program in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Technical papers summarizing recent research and commercial product developments related to the processing of flexible polyurethane foam (FPF), innovations in formulation, and foam production technology are welcome. PFA also encourages papers on product sustainability and environmental issue that may affect FPF production or specification.
Abstracts will be reviewed prior to acceptance. A short summary (abstract) of the intended content must be submitted no later than March 7, 2014 to PFA Executive Director, Bob Luedeka at email@example.com, 865.657.9840. A maximum of eight presentations, each 30 minutes in length, will be scheduled.
Based on a program that includes at least six technical papers, the presentations will be scored to compete for a $500 Technical Excellence Award provided by the Herman Stone family endowment.
Those submitting abstracts must agree to provide a written paper and slide file in addition to making a presentation during the May 1, 2014 PFA Technical Program at the Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla. Discounted rooms will be available beginning March 15, 2014.
The Polyurethane Foam Association was founded in 1980 to educate customers and other groups about flexible polyurethane foam (FPF) products. This includes providing facts on environmental, health and safety issues, and technical information on the performance of FPF in consumer and industrial products. The PFA membership includes FPF manufacturers and their suppliers of raw materials, processing and fabrication equipment, and various industry services. For more information, visit www.pfa.org.
By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (Allentown, PA) has been issued patent number 8618014, according to news reporting originating out of Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews editors.
The patent's inventors are Andrew, Gary Dale (Walnutport, PA); Listemann, Mark Leo (Kutztown, PA); Stehley, Patrick Gordon (Allentown, PA); Tobias, James Douglas (Center Valley, PA); Miller, John William (Allentown, PA).
This patent was filed on July 12, 2012 and was published online on December 31, 2013.
From the background information supplied by the inventors, news correspondents obtained the following quote: "The invention relates to polyurethane products and methods for producing them. More particularly, it relates to catalyst compositions for forming the polyurethane products.
"Manufacturers of polyurethane articles require ever-improving processing technology to meet the escalating pressures of cost efficiency and complicated part design. Two important parameters affecting the ability of a manufacturer to meet these challenges are the ability to fill the mold completely and rapidly before the initiation of the polyurethane reactions increases the viscosity, and the ability of the system to cure very rapidly thereafter so that the part can be quickly removed from the mold ('demolded'). It is desirable for the polyurethane-forming composition not to react significantly or increase excessively in viscosity until it has essentially filled the mold. Delaying the polyurethane initiation time in this way provides a longer time window for filling the mold, thereby allowing the production of more complex parts, and frequently also allows for longer screw cleaning cycles. At the same time, reducing the overall reaction time increases the productivity of the expensive capital equipment used for making the parts. The total elapsed time from the beginning of injection into the mold until the part is removed is commonly referred to as 'demold time'. Both initiation time and demold time can be strongly affected by the choice of type and amount of catalyst. However, catalysts that delay the onset of the polyurethane-forming reaction also frequently increase the demold time, thus increasing incremental cost.
"At the same time, there is a trend toward the production of polyurethane foams having lower and lower densities, which tends to increase demold times, thereby further hurting productivity. Thus there is an increasing need for a delayed action catalyst, i.e. a catalyst that will delay the onset of reaction of the isocyanate, commonly referred to as 'initiation time' or 'cream time,' and still not substantially increase the demold time. Alternatively, there is also a need for a catalyst that will yield the same initiation time with a shorter demold time. Thus improved polyurethane catalyst systems are sought in the industry."
Supplementing the background information on this patent, VerticalNews reporters also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "In one aspect, the invention provides a composition for use in making a polyurethane foam. The composition includes a catalyst combination containing a gelling catalyst and a trimerization catalyst, wherein the gelling catalyst is selected from the group consisting of tertiary amines, mono(tertiary amino) ureas, bis(tertiary amino) ureas, and combinations of any of these. The composition also includes one or more cure accelerators selected from one or both of: i) a first group consisting of diols comprising at least one primary hydroxyl group, and having from five to 17 chain backbone atoms chosen from carbon, oxygen, or both between the hydroxyl groups, provided that at least five of the backbone atoms are carbon; and ii) a second group consisting of compounds comprising three or more hydroxyl groups, at least two of which are primary, and having molecular weights between 90 g/mole and 400 g/mole.
"In another aspect, the invention provides a method of making a polyurethane foam. The method includes mixing together a polymeric polyol, a polyisocyanate, and a composition as described immediately above.
"In a further aspect, the invention provides a polyurethane composition including a product of a reaction between a polymeric polyol and a polyisocyanate, the reaction taking place in the presence of a composition as described above."
For the URL and additional information on this patent, see: Andrew, Gary Dale; Listemann, Mark Leo; Stehley, Patrick Gordon; Tobias, James Douglas; Miller, John William. Fast Demold/Extended Cream Time Polyurethane Formulations. U.S. Patent Number 8618014, filed July 12, 2012, and published online on December 31, 2013. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=80&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=3998&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=20131231.PD.&OS=ISD/20131231&RS=ISD/20131231