3D printing with carbon fibre, too

Continuous filament in LATAMID 12 H2 K/15, a PA12-based LATI compound reinforced with 15% carbon fibre

The field of 3D printing, like others, is currently seeing the consolidation of new points of reference and increasingly interesting niche markets.

Profplast, a company based in Poland and active in the field of filaments for additive manufacturing, has decided to specialise in the production of high-tech articles aimed at demanding customers that, for their own manufacturing purposes, want materials with specific performance characteristics, such as thermal or electrical conductivity.
Profplast’s decision is based on the strength of its solid experience in the extrusion of complex materials based on all types of profile. It is undoubtedly this particular know-how that has allowed it to obtain a continuous filament in LATAMID 12 H2 K/15, a PA12-based LATI compound reinforced with 15% carbon fibre.

The idea of depositing a filament formulated in this way might raise some doubts, linked, for example, to the integrity of the filament itself, the precision of its diameter and the shrinkage of the melt.

Instead, the product behaved excellently, both in extrusion and during winding, thanks also to the mechanical characteristics of the matrix. The printing process proved trouble free, carried out at a rate of 150 mm/min and a temperature of around 240°C, using nozzles optimised to withstand abrasion potentially caused by the carbon fibres.
The reinforcement present in the material gives it interesting mechanical properties naturally linked to the deposition modalities, e.g.  orientation and infill.

The filament, marketed by Finnotech (https://f3dfilament.com/) under the trade name Nanocarbon, is offered for technical applications in which the use of ABS, PET-G or PLA is not feasible.
Its considerable dimensional stability, strength and resistance to environmental humidity and chemical attack make it an ideal candidate for the creation of structural parts for aerospace, medical, optical, robotics and automation applications.

LATI’s contribution to the unstoppable development of 3D printing does not end here.
It already offers compounds for the production of radio-opaque, identifiable by metal detectors, thermally and electrically conductive, reinforced and filled filaments.

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New permanent antistatic and colourable LATIOHM PD02

New permanent antistatic and colourable LATIOHM PD02

The rising number of conductive compounds in state-of-the-art technological solutions demand ever greater control over the electrical characteristics available in manufactured goods. This is particularly true for projects that need to comply with ATEX standards, destined for use in explosive atmospheres.

ATEX specifications demand a precise threshold of surface resistance on the item, with a set upper limit of 109 ohm. While it is true that the problem is addressed by adopting highly conductive compounds, it is also true that a low resistance often creates electrical, mechanical or aesthetic type problems due to the presence of carbon black, carbon fibre or graphite.

The new generation of LATIOHM PD02 was developed to overcome similar issues. The strength of these materials resides in the adoption of intrinsically antistatic polymers, the purpose of which is to ensure an interval of permanent resistance of between 107 and 109 ohm. The compounds are developed using amorphous or semi-crystalline matrices like ABS, PP and PA for the base, reinforced where necessary to deliver excellent mechanical performance, even when cold.

The requirements associated with typical fields of use also impose excellent resistance to thermal cycles and stabilization to UV radiation, as required for example for electronic command housings for extended outdoor use, employed in building sites, in the mineral, petroleum and mining industries, and in the transportation of mineral or food powders.

A notable advantage of the PD02 formula is colourability and excellent exterior appearance made possible by the adoption of conductive polymers. No longer, then, just black articles, and the usual carbon black or carbon fibre, but also items that at last can be tailored – without any kind of limitation – to the needs of increasingly demanding technical markets, including in terms of aesthetics.

As LATI has learned from its long experience, the new LATIOHM materials are often designed for simple processing without particular hurdles in terms of process or equipment. PD02 grades do not, in fact, require specific adaptations to develop moulds, and the dispersal of antistatic polymers happens spontaneously and uniformly throughout the cast mass, ensuring continuity in electrical performance throughout the manufactured item.

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Coffee machines? In engineering plastic!

Plastic has for some time been the material of choice for manufacturing coffee machines, whether home or professional machines, including vending machines for hotels, restaurants and other catering businesses.

The fields of use, however, are becoming increasingly challenging, as are the demands the materials need to meet. In fact, we are no longer talking about just the aesthetics of plastic for structures and coverings, but about highly engineered compounds that can stand up to major mechanical stress, at temperatures in excess of 100°C, and under constant chemical attack by steam and the coffee itself.

The LATIGLOSS family grades are made by reinforcing PA66 or PPA with up to 60% glass fibres, and have been designed to meet the many demands of this industrial sector, always in perfect compliance with the international standards that govern food and drinking water, i.e. NSF, ACS, KTW and WRAS standards.

The Coffee machines division of the Tecnoplastica Group (http://www.tpvcoffee.com/espresso-coffee-machines/) has chosen LATIGLOSS 57 G/50 to produce the infusion unit for the entire range of its espresso capsule coffee machines.

During the infusion process, water passes through the coffee powder at a temperature of about 90°C and at a pressure of almost 20 bar. The temperature and mechanical stress impact the entire structure that naturally has to remain reliable over time.

The PPA by LATIGLOSS 57 is the ideal choice for the temperature and contact with hot water and coffee, the high glass fibre content allows the material to resists creep and mechanical stress without shrinkage, that could lead to breakage or loss of liquid or pressure.

The manufacture of such critical thermoplastic compound elements has required numerous verifications to be done, starting in the design stage. All the parts of the infuser must not only be mechanically reliable, but also precise in terms of size, to protect the seal, and protect against leaks and rapid wear in moving parts and seals.

The moulding process was therefore simulated in order to validate the geometry of the mould and the transformation parameters.
At the same time, the size and geometry of the infuser were the subject of FEM calculations that confirmed the design of the final version.

Excellent design, choice of ideal materials, a clear and innovative vision of the industry: these are the elements of the Tecnoplastica Group’s winning approach.

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Electrically conductive compounds for the HVAC industry

Electrically conductive compounds for the HVAC industry

The continual improvement in comfort levels in closed environments where people work is achieved thanks to solutions that heating, ventilation and air conditioning professionals make available to us.
The research objectives in this field are aimed at the achievement of constantly improving performance, such as curbing energy consumption; all without compromising safety, naturally.

Condensing type boilers make up a family of devices designed to deliver the quantities of heat we need in our homes, while minimizing losses.

Wolf GmbH, a German leader in the heating and air conditioning sector, puts people’s needs for comfort and protection at the heart of what it does. In order to ensure the safety of its gas heaters, Wolf has decided to adopt electrically conductive LATIOHM to manufacture the couplings that handle the air-gas blend.

Such a delicate project obviously presents many exacting needs. Electrical conductivity first and foremost, that must be homogeneous, uniform and sufficiently elevated to prevent electrostatic charge accumulations.

With the LATIOHM 66-07 PD08 G/30 that Wolf has included in its project, electrical resistance is kept under control by carbon fibres and specially selected electrically conductive additives. Mechanical sturdiness is imperative, even at temperatures normally found inside a boiler. This task is handled by reinforcement fibres – glass and carbon – that take the material to a breaking point well above 100 MPa even at 90°C.

The coupled parts are held firm by the dimensional stability of the compound, the fruit of intense R&D work by LATI and extraordinarily elevated for a material containing consistent quantities of reinforced fibre.
The life expectancy for LATIOHM sleeves is elevated by the maximum chemical inertia of the substances present in the air-gas blend and the resistance to thermal ageing of the polymer component of the compound.

Considering the diffusion of these goods even on the US market, LATIOHM 66-07 PD08 G/30 also enjoys UL certification with RTI. The range of LATIOHM electrically conductive compounds includes solutions for all types of needs, from antistatic products to more complex, conductive polymer and carbon nanotube formulas.

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PEEK as a replacement for steel and titanium

PEEK as a replacement for steel and titanium

The chemicals industry is one of the application sectors that has benefitted the most from the introduction of synthetic materials. Indeed, numerous polymers offer considerable resistance to attack by acids, bases, solvents and hydrocarbons.
PPS- and PEEK-based compounds, for example, can remain unaltered even in environmental conditions in which most metals, including alloys such as anti-corrosion steel, soon fail.

PEEK as a replacement for steel and titanium - the experience of Metau Engineering

The risks associated with chemical industry processes have often imposed the implementation of complex and costly solutions based on traditional materials, such as AISI316 steel or even titanium.
In such cases, failures and even simple maintenance problems must be anticipated and avoided by taking every possible precaution.

The Italian company Metau Engineering, a leader in the design and production of hydrodynamic systems, is familiar with all the criteria that must be respected when producing machines for the chemical industry — especially ones designed to process delicate or hazardous substances.

The new generation of magnetic drive couplings suitable, for example, for the handling of polyurethane monomers, are a case in point. In these devices, the magnetic drive has the task to avoid axial and radial stresses and vibrations, and to prevent any contact between the inner side and the external environment, after fluid leaks for example.

PEEK as a replacement for steel and titanium - the experience of Metau Engineering

The separation of the two areas is achieved thanks to a special bell, which has to meet a long series of requirements.

First of all, it must guarantee the highest levels of chemical resistance in order to ensure maximum flexibility of use.

When the system is in operation, the bell is subject to temperatures of almost 100 °C and internal pressures as high as 50 bar.

High temperatures and mechanical stress can deform the bell, which runs the risk of rubbing against the internal sleeve of the coupling, and getting damaged.

Clearly, therefore, the levels of thermal resistance and mechanical strength have to be very high in order to ensure maximum performance, even when transmitting high torques (of up to 500 Nm).

After numerous tests and trials, Metau has opted for LARPEEK 10 K/30, a PEEK-based compound from LATI reinforced with 30% w/w high-tenacity carbon fibers.
With PEEK, high temperatures and chemical attack are no longer an issue, while the carbon fibers guarantee the necessary structural strength and dimensional stability even under stress.
Finally, thanks to the high electrical conductivity of the carbon fibers, the whole apparatus qualifies for ATEX certification (Ex II 2GD c II C TX).

This represents a new and important achievement both for Metau, allowing it to market even safer and longer lasting products, and for LATI special compounds.
PEEK as a replacement for steel and titanium - the experience of Metau Engineering

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PTFE-free self-lubricating compound

PTFE-free self-lubricating compound

PTFE is a polymer with peculiar characteristics, including a very low friction coefficient. This property can be transferred onto different thermoplastic matrices by dispersing appropriate percentages of PTFE into them though compounding. The tribological behaviour of such formulas stands out for low static and dynamic friction coefficients, even for grades reinforced with glass or carbon fibre.

The elevated performance delivered by the PTFE enables the use of these self-lubricating compounds in technologically advanced applications where wear and friction need to be limited.

The processing of self-lubricating compounds containing PTFE however has a disadvantage linked to the formation of deposits on moulds, and corrosion problems for equipment and the danger of fumes due to the possible thermal deterioration of part of the PTFE. Formulas containing PTFE also have problems caused by fluorine, a halogen whose presence is today subject to increasingly stringent regulatory restrictions due to the risks associated with their release into the environment at the end of their life.

The replacement of PTFE is therefore a highly topical debate and LATI (www.lati.com) has developed a family of self-lubricating grades, Latilub, formulated to ensure high tribological performance without the use of fluoropolymers. Lati chose UHMWPE as a replacement polymer, an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyolefin known for its extreme resistance to abrasion.

The results are encouraging, even in formulas highly reinforced with glass fibre. The UHMWPE, dispersed in amorphous or semi-crystalline matrices, means friction coefficients are comparable to PTFE with similar run-in times.
Even abrasive and adhesive wear has been clearly slowed. From a mechanical standpoint, no significant differences were noted under static load action nor in the presence of impulsive stresses. Lastly, the lower density compared to PTFE permits solutions that are interesting also from an economic point of view.

UHMWPE Latilub are available in reinforced and non-reinforced grades, also with additional self-lubricating systems (for example, silicon oil or aramid fibres) and for thermal performance up to 200 °C. LATI supports Latilub formulas also by facilitating the work of engineers and designers.

Latilub 66-10E G/15 with UHMWPE has obtained Gold Moldflow characterization, enabling the simulation of moulding with the utmost reliability.

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Artemide and LATI: the success of Ameluna

Artemide Ameluna

“An innovative vision of design where light is able to generate emotion and interaction”. This phrase perfectly fits Artemide’s presentation of Ameluna, the lamp designed in partnership with Mercedes-Benz Style.

Artemide and Mercedes-Benz are leaders in their respective fields and the development of a synergy between the two could not have been expected to result in anything other than a new icon, destined to become an eternal point of reference in the world of lighting design.

Ameluna — the name is a blend of Artemide and Mercedes with Luna (Italian for moon) — is a lamp designed to reflect and diffuse, in an unusual way, the light produced by a series of LEDs arranged inside it and controlled by a sophisticated and innovative optoelectronic system. The elegant asymmetric dome in PMMA is the most surprising part of this object, although every element of the whole reflects its highly innovative content.

Innovation: Artemide regards innovation as a concept that must embrace respect for ethical and sustainable values, especially when it comes to products designed for people and the environment they live in.

This deeply-held philosophy of design underlies the decision to adopt innovative solutions with a low environmental impact even for the most hidden part of Ameluna, that is to say the large round ring that houses the LEDs and also allows the lamp to be suspended from the ceiling.

To create this important element Artemide chose to use thermally conductive compounds supplied by LATI. The demands of the design are such that the engineering polymer must be able to effectively dissipate the heat produced by the LEDs but also fulfil a structural function, supporting the weight of the entire fixture. To guarantee maximum aesthetic quality, Artemide decided to produce the ring as a single monolithic piece: a challenge within a challenge, given its considerable size and the dimensional stability, in terms of flatness and roundness, that it must guarantee in order to ensure perfect coupling with the dome.

The design phase saw the LATI technicians engaged in an intensive simulation activity and FEM calculation that allowed them to establish the thermal performance of the material, the best configuration for the mould, and the optimal moulding process setup. The material, too, was carefully studied and improved, especially with regard to its rheological properties, in view of the flowability it must possess in order to efficiently fill the mould cavity in spite of the large quantity of non-abrasive ceramic fillers necessarily dispersed in the polymer matrix.

The heart of Ameluna is made from LATICONTHER 62 CEG/500-V0HF1, a PA6-based product that contains isotropic, thermally conductive ceramic fillers, and is self-extinguishing yet free of environmentally harmful additives such as halogens red phosphorous. The formulation of the material helps to ensure not only excellent thermal and mechanical performance levels, but also low dimensional shrinkage and excellent surface smoothness and varnishability.

The happy ending to the Ameluna story is a lifetime of safe and reliable performance!

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PPA and carbon for fuel lines

PPA and carbon for fuel lines

The automotive industry is certainly among those in which high performance thermoplastic compounds have seen an exponential increase in interest and applications over the last few years. The reasons are many: From the ever-pressing need to contain weights and costs to the widespread use of electronics in the control of the vehicle and its utilities, from hybrid solutions involving the management of electric and thermal loads to temperature increase in the underhood environment. LATI’s special compounds are the natural answer to all these needs embodied in the evolution of the concept of car and transport.

So PPS, PSU, PPA, and PEEK are used near the engine for their thermal properties, self-extinguishing materials where important electric currents are to be handled, electrically conductive and shielding compounds for the protection of onboard electronics and computers, thermally conductive grades for cooling of LED optical solutions, and structural materials wherever robustness and strength of metal are required.
Fuel transport is a particularly critical field within the complex propulsion system for obvious safety and reliability reasons.

Any part operating with fuel streams must withstand continuous contact with hydrocarbons without embrittlement or loss of strength. Accumulation of electrostatic charges is also to be avoided due to the risk of malfunction or fire.

For these reasons, SAROPLAST, an Italian company specializing in the molding of high performance resins, has chosen the LARAMID K/30 compound for the manufacture of fittings used on diesel fuel transport lines. The reasons for this choice are the excellent chemical resistance of the PPA matrix to oils, solvents, greases and hydrocarbons, as well as the electrical and mechanical properties offered by 30% carbon fiber contained in the compound.

Carbon, in fact, allows to have electrically conductive technopolymers, so perfectly suitable for electrostatic discharge to ground. At the same time, fibers also increase the structural strength and dimensional stability of the molded part, which are parameters required to safely handle the pressure and fuel flow to the engine.

As is customary in underhood applications, operating temperature, too, requires to be safely managed. In this case, LARAMID K/30 ensures maximum performance beyond the required 130° C.
The range of LATI solutions based on aromatic polyamides includes not only carbon fiber reinforced products, but also purely structural grades with up to 60% glass fiber, self-extinguishing, self-lubricating and thermally conductive products.

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LED COB and thermally conductive compounds

LED COB and thermally conductive compounds

The rapid evolution of LED lighting systems has led to the development of increasingly powerful and efficient devices, suitable for replacing conventional sources even in the most challenging applications, such as, e.g., lights for public and industrial use. The main players of this sector are the COB LEDs (Chip On Board) LEDs in which numerous light diodes are joined together and mounted on the substrate to form a single large source. The advantages of the COB LED solutions are many, such as the reduction of necessary components for the lowest number of welded joints, the absence of lenses, and the higher light density. It is clear that the management of the heat generated by such a structured system is of vital importance for the duration of the product. The use of aluminum heat sinks is a solution considered to be mandatory even at maximum junction temperatures close to 150° C.

Electromagnetica, a company based in Romania and a leader in the production of electrical and electronic equipment, has decided to buck the trend focusing on thermally conductive plastic compounds to develop a new industrial projector built with COB LED light sources.

This challenge required a robust scientific approach, based on numerous rigorous simulations and experiments aimed especially at evaluating the cooling as well as the quality of the emitted light.
The result is the CASTOR 2M light, an industrial projector that houses two COB modules for a total power close to 70 W. The unit must be reliable up to an ambient temperature of 45° C and under natural convection, i.e. without forced air. Despite the high electrical efficiency, the system generates a large amount of heat to be dispersed.
Is it possible to use a technopolymer heat sink with such a scenario? The answer is affirmative, provided that the geometry of the radiating elements and the interface between the PCB substrate and the thermoplastic compound are correctly configured.

The material chosen by Electromagnetica is LATICONTHER 62 GR/70, a product that LATI has developed to disperse 70% of selected graphite in the PA6 polymer matrix. The thermal performance of this compound has been carefully measured. The average thermal conductivity was close to the effective 10 W/mK even at high ambient temperatures and regardless of the orientation of the graphitic flakes. These values are well above the benchmarks of other LATI and competitor compounds.

The correct design of the heat sink has proved to be fundamental due to the large amount of heat to be disposed of and the thermal limits of the thermoplastic matrix. So the thickness of the heat sink base as well as the shape and spacing of the fins have been optimized.
The meticulous study of the thermal phenomena at the base of the cooling efficiency is also fundamental, to which the radiation contributes in a similar way to the convection.

Thermal conductivity of alloys normally used to manufacture heat sinks is close to 150 W/mK, thus far from the 237 W/mK of pure aluminum. This difference helps to reduce distance between metals and LATICONTHER. Higher heat capacity of plastics provides another valuable advantage, that is reduction of thermal load to be transferred thanks to increased heat storage capabilities of the sink itself.
Advantages provided by LATICONTHER include extremely low moulding shrinkage and related excellent dimensional stability, required for flawless assembling, and reduced weight thanks to its density, close to one half that of aluminum.

The light is able to provide a minimum luminous flux of 8000 lm without the junction exceeding 80° C. The excellent appearance of the product is also ensured by the quality of the surface finish of the heat sink in LATICONTHER and by the cataphoresis coating directly carried out on the technopolymer. The IP65 classification completes the technical framework of the CASTOR 2M.

For any further information please contact LATI Technical Assistance.

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Lati & Dräger for road safety

Lati & Dräger for road safety

Dräger is a leading multinational company in the field of technology dedicated to the medical and safety field. The company’s motto, “technology for life”, also translates into the range of equipment designed to increase road safety.

The family of Dräger drug and alcohol detection devices for roadside testing by law enforcement today also includes additional solutions designed to allow the driver to personally test his or her driving ability.

Interlock 5000 and 7000 devices, which can be installed on any vehicle and equipped with GPS/GPRS communication modules, instantly detect the alcohol content in the breath exhaled by the driver, preventing the engine from being started in the case of positive test.

These devices require, of course, maximum operating precision, so as to prevent the vehicle from being blocked or, worse, used due to wrong measurements. In addition, the electrochemical sensor of the breathalyzer should be quickly ready for use and feature low power consumption of the electronics even at very low ambient temperatures.

To achieve these results, Dräger successfully used LATI Spa  thermally conductive compounds of the LATICONTHER family based on 70% graphite reinforced PP and PA6. These technopolymers were chosen by Dräger engineers for the manufacture of the molded mouthpiece and sensor heaters due to their combined high electrical and excellent thermal conductivity greater than 20 W/mK, so one hundred times that of conventional plastics.

The injection molding of these pieces is made possible by the rheological properties of the compounds, formulated so as to ensure the filling of complex cavities despite the presence of a high percentage of conductive charge. Mechanical strength and heat resistance typical of automotive applications (from -30° C to + 85° C) are additional properties of selected compounds.

The special composition of PP-based LATICONTHER compounds also allows the use in contact with food and therefore with the driver’s mouth.

The performance of LATI compounds also allowed to obtain for the breathalyzers of the Interlock family both the E1 mark and the EN 50436-2 certification, the European standard for the use of blocking devices based on alcohol concentration for preventive purposes.

For any further information pls. contact LATI Spa technical service – www.lati.com.

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