K 2019 was held in Dusseldorf, Germany for eight days in October. We take a look at some of the polyurethane industry product and machinery highlights that were exhibited at the event The K show held in Dusseldorf, Germany once every three years is a fixed point in the life of the European polymer industry.
Although The event is dominated by thermoplastics producers, processors and machinery makers, but search hard, and you can find some polyurethane companies in the throng. Here is a round-up of some of the more interesting companies at the event. Contact details for all of these companies can be found on at www.k-online.co.
Cannon used K to explain its range of mix heads and dosing units for polyurethane composite materials. For example, the company showed its new A - Prima high - pressure dosing unit for polyurethanes. This is designed to be an entry - level metering machine for processors who have only used low - pressure systems, or who are new to polyurethane moulding. It is available with a wide range of metering components and electronic controls.
This was accompanied by a quartet of new mix heads. The first, the JL Vector 420, has three separate mixing chambers, and is designed to provide good mixing efficiency with high - viscosity polyols. It is built with a 420mm - long nose so it can effectively inject up to 3kg/s polyurethane. It is aimed at large insulation panels and wide refrigerators.
The new FPL SR 26 QCC can sequentially produce foams of two different colours without contamination. This makes it suitable to produce large colour - coded parts such as mattresses, flexible couches and blocks of sound insulation foam.
The AX 22/7 mix head. This is designed to mix six components radially and one axially. It was specifically conceived for the automotive seating market. And finally, a low output mix head for low - weight parts was unveiled. The FPL SR 10 is designed to give good mixing efficiency, and long - lasting operations with reduced and simplified maintenance in an extremely compact design.
Cannon also displayed details of its Shutter system to optimise mould filling when processing RTM composites, and a tool to make PU grommets for automotive applications. This is designed to reduce cycle time and possible accidents when moulding PU around wiring harnesses.
Covestro used the K show to outline its materials for a number of different product areas, and also to highlight how technology can help design and production become more efficient.
‘In addition to the advancing digitalisation, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals will be a driving force in society and the economy for the coming years,’ said CEO Markus Steilemann. ‘Their fulfilment is not only imperative for a better, cleaner and healthier world, but also holds great economic potential in the long term. Covestro is determined to realise the UN sustainability goals at many levels.’
Rigid polyurethane insulation is an area that, Covestro said, is already benefitting from its approach to digitalisation. The company pointed out that its insulation properties are 30% better than competitive products such as EPS.
The company explained that its digital technical services are supporting customers by helping them to optimise sandwich panel production. The process focuses on digital, computer aided chemistry and machine learning models. This focus is designed to help panel makers increase efficiency and cut costs by avoiding waste. It can also lead to more stable processes, it said.
For flexible foam, Covestro outlined a digital product fin der. This enables foam manufacturers to find raw materials for their products, including Cardyon polyols that are partly based on CO2.
Raw materials and manufacturing processes to solve some of the problems with viscoelastic mattresses that make users ho t were also outlined. Foams are available with increased air circulation and less temperature sensitivity than their predecessors. The formulations also feature reactive catalysts, which are integrated into the foam’s polyurethane chains. This cuts down emissions, Covestro said.
Away from high volume foam applications, footwear was a significant focus for the company. It outlined a running shoe with a 3D printed midsole and Insqin water based PUD upper, and a basketball shoe. Both featured carbon fibre reinforced TPU sold under the Maezio banner.
Maezio is light, stiff and torsion resistant and recyclable, Covestro said. This unique material combination offers a high degree of design freedom and a strong aesthetic appeal with unique, unidirectional carbon fibre optics; in addition, it is recyclable.
The uppers of both shoes contain TPU fibres. These resist abrasion and tearing, but they feel extremely comfortable. The running shoe’s upper is made by screen printing Insqin through the fibres. This give a surface which, the company claims, both looks and feels attractive. The insoles are made of viscoelastic PU foam to absorb mechanical loads.
Finally, Covestro showed a fully recyclable 3D printed sports shoe made from thermoplastic polyurethane. This uses a Desmopan material, which is partly made from biomass or polycarbonate polyols derived from carbon dioxide.
Turkey - based Donem Makina used the event to show its range of double belt presses for polyurethane board manufacture. It also outlined its range of high - pressure dosing machinery , whose outputs range from 120 g/s up to 5,000 g/s. E and P Wurtz Wurtz displayed its range of internal and external release agents for polyurethane moulds. The company said that using its PAT release agents within the formulation can help save money in production compared to the use of external release agents.
A range of bio - based polyurethane systems to make athletic shoe insoles was a highlight of this company’s stand at the event. The materials can be used with covered and uncovered insoles . They are available with hardness between 10 and 40 Shore A and densities from 220 - 320 kg/m3. Polyether systems for shoe soles with densities from 400 - 650 kg/m3 at between 40 and 85 Shore A hardness were also discussed. A range of intermediate and super - light products helped to round out the display.
Dow Polyurethanes showed a wide range of its products, from insulation materials through to breathable pillows. The company showcased refrigerated cabinets insulated with Voratec and Voracor rigid polyurethane formulations. These have good insulation and thermal efficiency, the company said. They can help users meet stringent energy and environmental regulations by using low global warming potential blowing agents. Building insulation with V Plus Perform was also highlighted. These were developed with panel makers, architects and sustainability experts to create panels with increased energy efficiency, more sustainable components and improved indoor air quality.
In flexible applications, its Vorguard systems were to the fore. The material has been designed to self extinguish, and this greater fire safety is accompanied by enhanced comfort and better indoor climate.
Finally, the company outlined products for the automotive sector, including Voraforce fibre reinforced polyurethane components. These are similar to steel but, because they are polymeric, enable longer repair intervals and reduced maintenance levels. Its Betafoam and Specflex products for NVH and power train applications rounded out the display.
Polyurethane foam systems, hot melts and aqueous dispersions were the highlights of the company’s stand at K this year. The company was founded in 2015, and has a particular focus on the automotive a nd furniture industries. It operates in Europe, and claims to work closely with its customers, often at their own sites.
Format used the event to highlight its range of measuring and testing equipment for polyurethane materials. This includes a one - component foam measurement device which is designed to detect foam expansion, as well as the pressure and temperature of one - component foams. The device can be supplemented with the company’s GF TB 200 meteorological station, which allows environmental parameters such as temperature, air pressure and humidity to be noted alongside foaming performance. The company also exhibited its Resimat machine, which measures the recovery of viscoelastic foams to IKEA specification IOS - MAT - 0076. Also on the stand was its ultrasonic distance sensor, the LRS3 Type 282. It has new circuitry and programmable functions, which the company claims make it suitable for all distance and thickness measurements that require a large measuring range and high accuracy.
The FreChem systems house is located in the German town of the same name, and has been developing polyurethane foam systems for more than 40 years. The company says it cites raw materials according to their suitability and environmental compatibility, and checks the quality of the raw materials, intermediates and end products during the production process so the systems meet customers’ specific requirements.
Polyurethane processing machinery was on display at the event. Featured products included a turntable system for flexible foam, which combines a heavy-duty turntable with low - cost mould carriers. These are actuated externally and may be replaced very quickly.
Hennecke displayed its machines, systems technology and high-pressure mix heads. Three brands shared the limelight at the show: Hennecke Polyurethane Technology, Hennecke OMS, and Hennecke Roll Forming Technology, Hennecke Profiliertechnik.
Visitors were given virtual tours of the company’s Smartflex continuous flexible foam production line. This has a modular design and a number of new features. It contains the company’s new Block Shape system. The company said this regulates the slab growth and results in less waste.
The line features a space saving paper guiding system and a new deflection plate called Mixguide. Additionally, high pressure mixing technology using new Smartjector technology and the company’s Foamware data recording system are used in the new machine.
Two new mix heads in the MT A range were available for virtual inspection. These are high pressure devices that are designed to have a long service life and be easy to handle and clean.
Visitors also saw examples of the company’s metering machines. These included the Hennecke OMS Jetline, a compact metering machine. It is designed for wet compression moulding applications.
Turning to cast processes, the company showed its EL and CAL low pressure elastomer casting machines. It also launched its Elastoline HP for high pressure spray coating.
At K 2019, Huntsman officially launched its Iroprint 3D printing materials based on polyurethane. The F grade materials are suitable for fused filament fabrication and other extrusion based print methods. R resins are soft durable one component l iquids for stereolithography and other radiation curing processes. The P grades are TPUs for sintering. The company showed its F80213 filament being 3D printed at the event on a Ultimaker S5 desktop 3D printer.
More strikingly on the Huntsman stand was a 1.75m (5ft 8in) diameter wheel made using Tecnothane hot cast polyurethane. The wheel was made for demonstration purposes by Raeder Vogel, which produces castors and industrial wheel. Huntsman also showcased a number of resins for potting, encapsulation, rapid prototyping, synthetic leather production and vibration damping applications.
Thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers, designed for consumer and industrial film and sheet applications, were also a a key talking point for Huntsman at this year’s K show. The company promoted its range of Irogran, Irostic and Krystalgran TPUs for barrier, adhesive and surface protection films. It said the Irogran TPUs are durable, abrasion, puncture and tear resistant elastomers. They are widely found in athleisure a nd technical textiles, cure in place pipe (CIPP) liners and inflatables. Key products include products designed to make breathable membranes for pitched roofs.
Irogran and Irostic adhesive films are solvent free, permanent thermo bonding materials for clothing applications in footwear, waterproof clothing, unstitched, seamless garments and clothing labels.
In surface protection applications, Krystalgran TPUs have good abrasion, scratch and outdoor UV resistance. They are used to protect the leading edges of helicopter and wind turbine blades. Textile coatings and the production of synthetic leather for transportation, footwear, clothing and bags are other uses, Huntsman said.
A block cutting machine for foam called BA - D was the centre piece of Hyma’s stand. The machine is a transverse travelling machine that is designed to cut off continuously produced foam blocks. T he cutting head moves across the foam to for fast two - way cutting, the company said. It can be programmed, offering many cut lengths. Laader Berg The company used K 2019 to display the latest version of its Maxfoam machinery technology for flexible slabstock production.
Casting machines for open tools and sprayers were to be found o n Isotherm’s stand. The PSM 700 is designed for both elastomers and rigid foam. It has been fitted with a new hydraulic drive that gives the machine flexibility in both capacity and mixing ratio. The company says it can deliver shots between 0.6 and 10 L/m in, and handle mixtures with viscosities up to 5,000 cPs. Also on the stand was the PSM 90, a compact casting machine to produce small parts. Flow can be continuously changed between 0.6 and 5 L/min, with a shot size of 3 – 1,000 g. It is designed for mould ing and spraying hard foam, integral foam, and flexible internal foam and rim systems in both closed and open moulds. The company’s PSM 3,000 is a modular four - plunger tandem high - pressure machine. This can be used for both casting and spraying applicatio ns. The machine can deliver materials at 0.6 – 10 L/min.
KraussMaffei wanted to clear the air for PU moulders at K by presenting its Automatic Film Insert (AFI) technology. The machinery maker said this enables polyurethane components to be moulded effectively without using release agents.
The technology removes the need for vapours from mould release agents to be extracted from the workplace, the company claimed. AFI deploys a plastic film that precisely lines the mould and so reliably separates the foam from the mould.
Two film frames are automatically filled according to the size of the mould with a thin film from a roll. The frame is lowered over the mould and the film, supported by underpressure, clings precisely to the mould surface.
‘With the AFI technology, we can simultaneously meet the needs of different customer groups,’ explained Nicolas Beyl, president of the company’s reaction process machinery segment. ‘It allows us to offer a sustainable alternative to using sprayed release agents. AFI technology also helps us to produce PU foam components using a fully automated process.’
KM said that foaming and demoulding are carried out as usual. In rotary table systems, the foaming process is fully automated by robots: at the end of the cycle, the component only has to be removed from the arrangement for post mould processing. The remaining production process takes place without manual intervention. KM claimed its AFI system can help increase productivity by reducing the workload on plant operators. In addition, because the films are applied automatically, quality is more uniform.
The technology is also suitable for foam components covered with a protective film. These components are used in vehicle manufacturing when protection against environmental factors is required, such as in acoustic insulation in wheel arches. Here, KM said, the AFI technology ensures optimum bonding between foam and film.
The urethane systems business unit at Lanxess explained how its low free polyurethane prepolymers contain less than 0.1% by weight of free isocyanate, and fulfil strict industrial hygiene requirements.
‘These Adiprene LF prepolymers will, therefore, not be affected by the forthcoming EU wide restrictions on diisocyanates,’ explained Markus Eckert, the unit’s head. ‘They improve the mechanical properties of the PU end products. In future, we will therefore be offering all products in the Adiprene LF range.’
Highlights of the business unit’s line up at the show included a rollercoaster car with extremely abrasion resistant and dynamically resilient PU wheel coatings. The coating was based on Adiprene LF pPDI. The company also showed hard wearing, thermally stable and moisture resistant star wheels based on Adiprene LF TDI for conveyor and separator systems in modern recycling facilities.
The company’s MS - LC high - pressure, dose, mix, dispense machine was on display at the event. This machine has self - cleaning mixing heads and is designed for both rigid and flexible foams. It can also be used to dispense polyurea, RIM and elastomers. The company said it will train operators in how to use and maintain the machine. A second spray machine, the MGP 1, was also on show. This can be used in low- or high-pressure modes, and is suitable for use with adhesives, rig id and flexible foams, as well as rigid or elastomeric products.
The company showed an innovation it claims allows the secure connection of polymeric materials that were not previously compatible. Using its in - mould plasma direct injection process, it is possible to mould PU directly onto polypropylene. The company said that in tests on specimens according to 2019 BDI guidelines, the peel strength of thermoplastic polyurethane to polypropylene increase from zero using old technology to 16 N/mm using its in - mould plasma process.
The Italian rigid board machinery - maker Robor used the event to outline its wide range of machinery for the polyurethane sector. Sunkist Foaming machines and foam cutting machines were highlights of this display. Representatives were on hand to discuss the company’s technology and after - sales service.
Wanhua Chemical got a running start on innovation at K 2019, using the show to introduce a 3D printed shoe with Chinese athletic footwear maker Peak Sports. Wanhua supplied three different grades of thermoplastic polyurethane, the two companies said at a joint news conference. They said that they plan to expand on their collaboration.
The prototype shoe, dubbed The Next, is entirely 3D printed with TPUs, allowing it to be both customisable and 100% recyclable. The companies said this is an advance in an industry where current manufacturing processes make it very difficult to recycle shoes.
‘We are trying to cultivate this cooperation and understanding for the downstream industries,’ said Weiqi Hua, EVP and chief technology officer at Wanhua.
Quanzhou, China based Peak, which introduced what it claims to be the first 3D printed basketball shoe in 2017 with NBA player Dwight Howard, said it considers the collaboration with Wanhua a way to deepen its understanding of materials and manufacturing.
Kui Cai, design director for Peak Sports’ US Design Center, said his company initially considered 3D printing merely as a design tool, but has realised it has the potential to have a bigger impact on the business.
‘We believe through innovation, design and development of [the] manufacturing process, we can bring our design to the next level,’ Cai said. ‘We found Wanhua a very strong partner that is really good with materials and methods.’ He believes this is just the beginning of the two companies’ collaboration. ‘Together with Wanhua Chemical, we breached the bottlenecks of the existing 3D printing material solutions and will bring global consumers a sneaker where the bulk of the materials are 3D printed [and] that is stylish, comfortable, customisable and recyclable,’ he said.
It’s not an exclusive collaboration. Hua said Wanhua is interested in working on the 3D printed shoe material technology with other footwear makers. Wanhua supplies TPU filaments, TPU powders and TPU coatings and adhesives. It optimised the TPUs to use fused deposition modelling technology to make the shoe uppers, and selective laser sintering technology to make the midsoles. Both technologies allow much more customisation of shoes, a key feature for Peak in the development of the shoe market, Cai said.
‘Mass production, especially in China, is possible,’ Hua said. ‘There are a lot of 3D manufacturing centres. As well as the technology... Wanhua can offer a full spectrum materials solutions.
Cai added that using only TPU materials will help Peak make shoes that are much more easily to recycle. The fashion industry and the sports industry [are among] the most polluting industries,’ he said. ‘Every year we make a lot of shoes – 20 billion pairs of them – and because of the materials, it is super difficult to recycle them.’