LATI with Tamara Molinaro in the WRC2

LATI with Tamara Molinaro in the WRC2

Everyone loves a success story. That is why, today, we have decided not to talk about innovative polymers and compounds, but instead about two very different but equally striking experiences that ultimately brought together their two protagonists — two women who share the same profound values and the same readiness to rise to a challenge.

Let us begin with Michela Conterno, CEO of LATI, a leading Italian company in the field of thermoplastic engineering compounds. It was 2009 when Conterno agreed to take the helm of the family business, a complex reality in a demanding industrial setting, at a time when the economic crisis was at its height. Setting out to build on all the company’s assets, and exploit its wealth of experience, as well as the expertise of its skilled workforce and management team, she saw the company achieving remarkable results both in terms of revenue and market position. And yet this highly focused pursuit of results was not allowed to distract the company’s management from other, equally important goals: corporate welfare, worker safety and environment protection, and hefty investment in the local area, so as to further consolidate the capacity and structures of the company.

Running parallel to this story, although in an entirely different setting, is that of Tamara Molinaro. Born in 1997, she grew up surrounded by the racing engines that were prepared at her parents’ engine shop, G.Car Sport of Villaguardia (Como). Already in the driving seat at just 12 years of age, she was quickly spotted by champion drivers, such as Gigi Galli, and iconic figures in the rally world, such as Group B driver Michèle Mouton. Able to draw upon the extraordinary experience of her family, as well as considerable professional support, Tamara fielded her talent, notching up a series of successes that led her, in the space of just a few years, to compete in the WRC2 championship at the wheel of a Citroen C3 R5, and also saw her excelling at rallycross (in the TytanRx competition).

Michela and Tamara’s stories really do provide food for thought. Both are women whose achievements stem from the enterprises built with determination and commitment by their respective families, and who have more than proved themselves in traditionally male dominated fields. Both have enjoyed great success thanks to their ability to manage their own resources, and both have shown the value of female leadership, when this is based on an ability to involve one’s team, also in decision making.

This piece is certainly not about paying lip service to “token females”: it is about recognising and acknowledging two women who embody the power of dreams and the determination to pursue them.

This affinity is behind LATI’s decision to run with Tamara Molinaro in her coming competitions. Its support will undoubtedly further boost her enthusiasm and raise her expectations.


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LATI takes flight with ICARO2000 hang gliders

A dream, to be lived again and again. This is how Christian Ciech, hang gliding instructor and several times world champion, describes the unique experience of free flight.

It is an experience that, to be enjoyed to the full, demands apparatus that is absolutely safe, comfortable and flawlessly designed, just like the gliders offered by Icaro2000 of Sangiano (Varese) a leading company in the construction of hang gliders, helmets and accessories that hired Ciech and other sector experts.

Over years of activity on airfields (in both a teaching and a competition capacity), Icaro2000 has gained enormous expertise, which it constantly applies to the development of a series of hang gliders that have repeatedly topped the podium at world-level sporting events.

These impressive results are the fruit of ongoing efforts to improve the entire hang glider structure, with the focus placed as much on the reliability of the aircraft as on the pleasure to be derived from using it, even in extreme conditions.

Always acutely aware of the crucial importance of ensuring the hang glider’s personal safety, the technical team at Icaro2000 recently decided to strengthen the wing fixing system, completely revising the design of the hooks used to attach the sails to the hang glider frame.

The collaboration of the company Plastì based in Barasso (Varese) – www.plastisrl.it, – which operates the field of plastics processing and also engineers items aimed at the sports market, proved essential in optimizing the performance of components made of engineering polymers.

First of all, the compound used to make the new fixing devices had to provide extreme mechanical strength, lightness and versatility. Naturally, it also had to be tough, in order to guard against the risk of brittle failures due to impulsive stresses transmitted from the wing to the supports holding it. Last in the list of requisites was excellent resistance to environmental conditions, humidity and solar radiation.

In the end, Icaro2000 and Plastì opted to use LATAMID 6 CUVHPX10 G/35, a structural compound for injection moulding obtained from a high polymer PA6 base that is toughened and stabilised to withstand heat and weathering. The real strongpoints of this material are its mechanical strength, conferred by the glass fibre reinforcement, and the excellent toughness of the elastomer dispersed in the matrix.

The performance of the new fixing devices is far superior to that of the previous solution, which was also based on reinforced polymers. As a result, a safe wing-frame anchoring is guaranteed even in situations in which, previously, the sail risked becoming detached. The final tests, passed with flying colours, included special flight manoeuvres and simulations pushing the test aircraft to the frame’s structural load limit.

All this provides a further illustration of how LATI customers are able to successfully use structural compounds in various challenging, cutting-edge applications.


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LATI3Dlab

LATI officially enters the world of Additive Manufacturing
LATI officially enters the world of Additive Manufacturing, this is why it has created LATI3Dlab, set up as a true R&D laboratory whose objective is to develop specific borderline technical products for the AM market: high performance polymers, with carbon fibers, with advanced functional properties, like being thermally and electrically conductive, self-extinguishing, radio-opaque, identifiable by metal detectors, as well as mechanical and self-lubricating properties; all, as needed, developed ad hoc to the specifications of customers, whether filament manufacturers or users in technical and industrial fields.

After an initial phase focused on developing aesthetic products and resins with limited thermal, mechanical and functional needs, the Additive Manufacturing market is today blossoming, among both 3D print manufacturers as well as users, linked increasingly to the industry and to the production of small series featuring customised or functional properties.

Backed by its seventy-five years of experience in technical compounding for injection moulding, LATI R&D for some years now has been committed to developing compounds for 3D printing, and regularly supplies major Italian and European filament manufacturers.

However, the special requirements of 3D printing and the need to develop increasingly complex and challenging formulas has prompted the Varese-based company to invest further in this sector.

This is why it has created LATI3Dlab, set up as a true R&D laboratory whose objective is to develop specific borderline technical products for the AM market: high performance polymers, with carbon fibers, with advanced functional properties, like being thermally and electrically conductive, self-extinguishing, radio-opaque, identifiable by metal detectors, as well as mechanical and self-lubricating properties; all, as needed, developed ad hoc to the specifications of customers, whether filament manufacturers or users in technical and industrial fields.

For contact and other information: info@lati3dlab.com


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Self-extinguishing compounds for electric mobility

Self-extinguishing compounds for electric mobility, allow you to face the danger of flame and fire with low environmental impact

The advent of electric vehicles for public and private transport is a process that is now very much under way. Indeed, it is forecast that by 2040 a good 35% of registered cars will be electric powered, either battery powered (BEVs) or plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs).

All the major car manufacturers and internal combustion engine specialists are now seeking to diversify their production, so as to be able to accommodate this completely new and revolutionary technology.

This historic transition throws up numerous challenges to be met, the main one being the safe management of the significant electrical voltages and currents present in these vehicles.

All the structural parts, the batteries and the systems controlling and transporting electrical energy must, in fact, be able to guarantee maximum user protection at all times: when the vehicle is running, when it is being recharged, and when it is parked, not to mention in the event of accidents.

Clearly, then, the use of materials resistant to electrical voltages and able to cope with the fire risk associated with the presence of short circuits, or simply the high temperature of metal parts, is fundamental.

For all these reasons, self-extinguishing plastic compounds are now rightly taking their place in the automotive world, emerging as ideal products from which to make charging systems, as well as supports and housings for electrical and electronic parts, engine parts and batteries.

Furthermore, knowing the most important parameters to monitor, namely flame retardancy, glow wire resistance, thermal and physical aging, resistance to environmental conditions and creeping currents, dielectric rigidity and mechanical strength, is just as important as choosing the right material. The decision-making process is complex and calls for highly specific skills.

LATI, strengthened by half a century of experience in the world of self-extinguishing compounds, is ideally placed to offer car designers valuable know-how, experience and the best materials.

The aim is to generate effective solutions such as those fielded by the major players in the E&E and rail transport sector with which LATI has always collaborated – solutions able to give excellent results even in situations that are, from the regulatory standpoint, extremely complex and demanding.

Thanks to LATI’s self-extinguishing compounds, born of years of research and ongoing improvement, it is now possible to address the fire and flame hazard problem through solutions that, in addition to their low environmental impact, are modern and versatile, in other words, suitable for creating complex geometries of any size, as well as structural elements and other functional parts.

The LATI range self-extinguishing grades covers all resins, none excluded: PA and PBT for traditional applications, PPS and PPA for high temperatures, PEEK for extreme conditions.


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Automotive – structural and thermally conductive compounds

Automotive - structural and thermally conductive compounds. The cars of the future are also destined to see the introduction of other important innovations, first and foremost the extreme integration of electronic systems for self-driving and connectivity applications.

For some time now the automotive sector has been involved in an ongoing change of enormous significance linked to the introduction of hybrid and electric mobility projects designed gradually to phase out traditional combustion engines in cars.

The cars of the future are also destined to see the introduction of other important innovations, first and foremost the extreme integration of electronic systems for self-driving and connectivity applications.

In this scenario, synthetic materials of all kinds, ranging from composites to aluminum alloys, ceramics and special thermoplastic compounds, are set to find an ever-increasing range of applications.

A fundamental goal for designers is to obtain lightweight structures. Although this is easily achieved thanks to the use of plastic materials, it comes at the expense of important features such as cooling capacity and strength, typical of metals.

Today, however, mechanical strength and thermal conductivity are combined in LATICONTHER MI, a new family of LATI thermoplastic compounds specially designed for the automotive applications of the future.

The basic objective of the MI grades is to increase as much as possible the thermal performance of the material without foregoing the mechanical features typical of glassfibre-reinforced compounds. This challenge is made even more complex by the need to deliver solutions that are chemically and thermally suitable for the typical application conditions of the modern automotive industry.

The LATICONTHER MI compounds are based on 35% glassfibre-reinforced PA66, a formula widely used and much appreciated within engineering and design fields. The thermoplastic matrix is stabilized to withstand chemical attack by the fluids typically found in the engine compartment, namely lubricants, fuels and coolants.

Higher thermal conductivity performance is achieved by filling the basic composition with special additives designed to facilitate heat transfer without, however, affecting the mechanical strength of the material. The result is a compound with a tensile strength far above 100 MPa and a thermal conductivity over ten times higher than that of traditional solutions.

The MI01 grade focuses on mechanical performance, with a tensile strength of nearly 150 MPa associated with a thermal conductivity of 2 W/mK, as opposed to the 0.2-0.3 W/mK of other conventional 35% glassfibre-reinforced PA66 compounds.

Instead, the MI02 solution offers heat transfer capacity, providing thermal conductivity of about 5 W/mK lengthwise and greater than 1 W/mK crosswise. These values are extremely high when considering the tensile strength (120 MPa) and elastic modulus (15 GPa) achieved by this compound.

The LATICONTHER MI01 and MI02 compounds can meet designers’ requirements not only in the automotive sector, but also in other application fields requiring faster heat dissipation through structural components, as well as improved strength and reliability of cooling elements. All this while still ensuring a lighter weight, given that the density of both materials remains well below 1.6 g/cu.cm.

Other solutions based on PP, PBT and PPS are now in the development stage in the LATI laboratories.


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Scenario planning – strategy and sustainability

The current economic, political, social and environmental scenario is such that modern companies have to be capable of planning their own strategies and of measuring, dynamically, performances and response times.

The current economic, political, social and environmental scenario is such that modern companies have to be capable of planning their own strategies and of measuring, dynamically, performances and response times.

LATI recently organised a training day focusing on the scenario planning concept under the lead of Dr Alberto Bubbio, associate professor of business economics and director of the programming, control and performance measurement courses at LIUC-Università Cattaneo (Castellanza, Varese, Italy)

It turns out that scenario planning is actually the means of acquiring the tools you need in order to navigate unknown environments with continuously and rapidly changing conditions, characterised by elements such as  hypercompetition, overproduction, evolving customers, and a growing interest in environmentally compatible products.

In such complex, volatile and uncertain environments, efforts to predict, or rather anticipate, future scenarios demands extremely meticulous planning. The analysis should begin with an assessment of the current scenario, both within and outside the company, a careful study of your competitors’ financial, organisational and product assets, and, above all, a study of the megatrends that are shaping the evolution of the world’s social and economic fabric.

In this regard, a strikingly important role is of course played by the change in market dynamics imposed by the advent of the web communities and commercial web networks that have fragmented the market, creating, within it, new unexplored oases in which to compete.

For this reason, company performances now need to be translated and reinterpreted using a balanced scorecard, a complex and powerful corporate tool that makes intangible resources measurable and thus delivers tangible parameters that can be aligned with corporate missions, visions and strategies. The quantification of financial success is now accompanied by the assessment of medium-long term phenomena, such as customer perception, learning dynamics and development.

To integrate the structured approach to business strategy outlined by Prof. Bubbio, there followed a lecture by Prof. Dipak Pant, founder and coordinator of the Unit of Interdisciplinary Studies for sustainable economy at LIUC-Università Cattaneo in Castellanza.

Prof. Pant, who is considered one of the world’s leading experts on sustainable development, explained that the survival and competitiveness of structured companies cannot be divorced from the social and environmental sustainability of industrial operations.

Indeed, close attention to the need to respect our world and its resources may well prove to be the source of new economic and emotional drivers that we can exploit in order to increase our competitiveness.


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Farifax 3D Design chooses LATI conductive plastic

UK company Fairfax 3D Design has chosen LATIOHM electrically conductive nylon from LATI SpA as the ideal material from which to manufacture its innovative new pressure relief valve. The pressure, or vacuum, relief valve is designed to be fitted into each compartment on a road tanker

UK company Fairfax 3D Design has chosen LATIOHM electrically conductive nylon from LATI SpA as the ideal material from which to manufacture its innovative new pressure relief valve.

The pressure, or vacuum, relief valve is designed to be fitted into each compartment on a road tanker.

The road tankers carry hydrocarbon liquids, anything from Diesel to Motor Spirit, and can have up to 7 compartments carrying 40,000 litres usually a mixture of spirit and diesel.

Due to the nature of the product all protrusions into the compartments must be conductive and therefore be at the same potential throughout the whole of the tanker.

Fairfax 3D design were looking for a cost effective material from which to manufacture the valves, that offered very good conductivity, corrosion resistance and the opportunity to design a robust part offering a good balance of weight to performance.

LATIOHM 66-07 PD08 G/30 met all these criteria, offering a surface resistivity of 1 x 10^3 Ohms in combination with the strength of a reinforced nylon 66.

The compound is made from 30% glass fibre reinforced PA66 with the addition to this matrix of carbon fibres and other additives to obtain an electrically conductive material. Simple to mould even on ordinary equipment thanks to its well manageable shrinkage, LATIOHM 66-07 PD08 G/30 is also an excellent choice for the price/performance ratio.

For further information on Fairfax 3D Design please see www.fairfax3d.design


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TCL and LATI boost fuel tank security against frauds

TCL and LATI boost fuel tank security against frauds

SpinCap® is a smart closure system for fuel tanks, designed to ensure that handling operations can only be carried out by authorised personnel.

The project was launched in Italy by TCL Group, a company specialising in electronic engineering which operates in a wide variety of industrial sectors. The idea stems from the need to secure hydrocarbon fuel (e.g. LPG) storage tanks, preventing anyone from filling or emptying them without due authorisation. The cap is unlocked by means of an electronic system, housed inside SpinCap®, which is able to recognise access credentials assigned only to authorised personnel equipped with a mobile and relative app.

The control electronics are housed inside a special steel case enclosed in a housing made from select thermoplastic compounds.
Since this is a security system, the requirements on the device’s technical features are particularly severe.

First of all, the cap must be able to withstand any tampering and break-in attempt. Therefore, structurally it must be exceptionally strong, even when subjected to considerable stress.
It must also be able to cope with challenging environmental conditions, such as extreme temperatures and prolonged immersion, as in the case of flooded wells, and must always be safe in environments that have a potentially explosive atmosphere (ATEX).

Naturally, it must also have chemical resistance to fuels, and be able to withstand solar radiation and adverse weather conditions as well as accidental falls.
Bearing finally in mind that SpinCap® is designed for long life, the housing must also remain intact and reliable over time.

Primarily, the collaboration with LATI concerned the selection and development of structural materials capable of meeting the various mechanical, thermal and environmental demands. It was decided to use grades reinforced with large quantities of glass fibre obtained from specially modified PA66 and PBT matrices .

The mechanical performances were first verified through FEM calculations, and on this basis LATI, simulating various tampering scenarios in different environmental conditions, confirmed the validity of TCL’s project. The long-term sealing capacity of the mechanical closure system was also verified through numerical simulations, which confirmed its excellent resistance to creep and yield of the geometry and the materials.

The entire system was then put through various climatic and environmental tests at certified laboratories and these fully confirmed the features envisaged for the device, also for the purpose of obtaining the necessary product certifications.

SpinCap® is now available to anyone wanting to ensure that their fuel cisterns and tanks (not only for hydrocarbons) are absolutely safe and secure, limiting access to the same by replacing their existing caps with a new lightweight, effective and smart solution.


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PVC-free corrugated pipes

corrugated pipes, LATI has developed a special extrusion formula based on polyolefins made self-extinguishing by environment-friendly additives, LATENE EP1-V2HF

The removal of halogens and other hazardous substances from materials intended for the electric and electronics sector is an industrial priority since long. The main reason lies in the dangerousness of these products when they reach their end of life.

For some compounds, this process started successfully, for example with the use of self-extinguishing systems without chlorine, bromine, red phosphorus and antimony. For other materials, a good compromise between performance and price compared to conventional solutions with a high environmental impact is instead more difficult to reach.

This is the case of PVC, a polymer containing large amounts of chlorine in its molecular chain, safe and versatile when used at room temperature, but potentially dangerous if heated or burned due to the release of chlorinated chemical species harmful to human health.

Among the many uses of PVC, one of the most common is the manufacture of conduits and pipes for the positioning of electric cables. Compliance of these products with current laws requires passing many non-trivial tests for thermal and mechanical stress resistance.

To successfully replace PVC in the manufacture of corrugated pipes, LATI has developed a special extrusion formula based on polyolefins made self-extinguishing by environment-friendly additives, LATENE EP1-V2HF.

In addition to the absence of toxic substances, this formula naturally also offers all the properties necessary for corrugated elements to meet the requirements of the industry standards, e.g. EN61386 for pipes and accessories for electrical plants.

However, LATI’s research was not limited to corrugated pipes, but developed also compounds for the extrusion of rigid conduits. The flame resistance performance includes V0 self-extinguishing at 1.6 and 3.2 mm thickness. This material, LATENE HD1 H2W-V0, features excellent mechanical strength at low temperature, a completely halogens and red phosphorous free formula, and is interesting for PVC replacement also in terms of price.

LATI’s proposal for the sector of civil and industrial electrical installations includes LATENE EP7-V2HF, a compound based on self-extinguishing PE-PP copolymer optimized for PVC replacement in the molding of flush-mounting junction boxes.

In this case, too, performance and price find a winning agreement for modern, practical and safe electrical installations.


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Resistance without compromise: Progalvano’s experience

LATENE AG3H K/10, which is a high thermal performance polypropylene reinforced with carbon fibre for the realization of the tumblers mounted on the Rotors of the Progalvano company

The chemical industry is clearly an extreme testing ground for polymers that can deliver the highest performance levels.

Of all chemical processes, those developed by electroplating certainly need to be on the list of most harmful, not only because of the extremely aggressive organic and inorganic chemicals, used in the galvanizing bath, but also because of the strong electric currents and free ionic species that have the potential to attack the materials used.

All problems well known to Progalvano (http://www.progalvano.it ), an Italian company and world leader in the production of all types of plating barrels used for galvanizing and chemical processes.

To manufacture the tumblers mounted on Rotor systems, Progalvano uses only polyolefins and other resins with optimal resistance to chemical attack.

The door barrels are fastened by large springs, normally made from carbon fibre PVDF. However, Progalvano needed to find a solution other than PVDF for highly alkaline processes, so it turned to LATI with a project full of challenges.

The springs must in fact deliver impressive mechanical performance, be highly resistant but also elastic during use, with exposure to temperatures up to 100°C. The elastic response must always be available to combat phenomena such as creep and relaxation of the coating, thus requiring compounds that are highly reinforced with appropriate fibres.

The resin base is also important and the thermal needs require a high viscosity PP optimized for temperature resistance.

The material used to make the first prototypes is LATENE AG3H K/10, which is a high thermal performance polypropylene reinforced with carbon fibre.

Field tests demonstrate how the performance of the new springs perfectly meets project specifications, and also offers unexpected advantages in terms of life expectancy.


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