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New coating developed for Amodel polyphthalamide provides thermal protection in high-heat applications

Solvay Advanced Polymers Llc : 15 September, 2004  (New Product)
A new coating provides thermal reflectivity when applied to the surface of parts made of Amodel polyphthalamide (PPA) from Solvay Advanced Polymers Llc.
A new coating provides thermal reflectivity when applied to the surface of parts made of Amodel polyphthalamide (PPA) from Solvay Advanced Polymers Llc.

The product has been developed by TechLine Coatings Inc of Murrieta, California, USA, and is based on technology used in the company's IC family of coatings for metals. Designated IC-105, this coating is the first designed by TechLine specifically for application to plastic. In testing conducted by TechLine and Solvay Advanced Polymers, sample plaques coated with a thin film of IC-105 were subjected to direct contact with a heat source at 600F. After extended exposure, the temperature of the plastic in the samples was measured at approximately 400F.

The differential temperature of 190-200F is significant for plastics such as polyphthalamide that are intended for use in the components of an automobile power train. 'While plastics such as nylons, or polyamides, or amide-imides have excellent qualities within a certain temperature range,' says Leonard Warren, president of TechLine Coatings, 'almost all of them have difficulties going above 500F for extended periods of time. They begin to lose their primary characteristics at this temperature, and certainly above 550F.'

Warren, whose company specialises in coatings for the high-performance automotive market, points out that higher temperatures are coming to the ‘underhood’ environment as part of an evolutionary process. 'Advances in engine technology, fuel management and emissions requirements are driving up the heat. Where these types of plastics were adequate a few years ago, today that's no longer the case.'

At the same time, the economics of the automotive industry are creating pressure for the use of plastic as a replacement for metal. Part consolidation and the elimination of post-finishing processes make plastics an attractive alternative to some metals. Jim Doty, a global marketing manager at Solvay Advanced Polymers, cites applications in an engine's air-induction system where materials such as Amodel PPA are replacing aluminium. 'The end tanks of turbocharger air cooler housings, for example, are sometimes made of plastic. But extended operation at elevated temperatures can have serious consequences for parts like this.' In contact with high-temperature air, the surface of these parts can undergo oxidation. As a result, the charred plastic can flake off and, along with exposed reinforcing fibres, can contaminate the turbocharger system.

In test conditions of 410F, however, samples of Amodel PPA showed that the IC-105 coating practically eliminated oxidation. 'We didn't see the charring that leads to contamination, and we do not see the surface deterioration that can have negative implications for airflow,' points out Doty. 'And we anticipate that the 190-200F temperature differential will forestall the degradation of such key properties of the polyphthalamide as tensile strength, elongation, stiffness and impact resistance.'

'This coating technology improves the window of opportunity for Amodel grades to be used in higher-temperature applications, not only as a replacement for aluminium, but as an alternative to much more expensive polymers such as polyetheretherketone.'

In the production process, a part would be moulded and then the coating would be sprayed onto the surface and allowed to cure by air drying for a short period, or a part could be dipped in the coating after forming. 'Adhesion is excellent,' says Warren. 'In formulating this product for use with Amodel PPA, we had three major goals: adhesion, thermal reflectivity and sealing. We were able to accomplish them all.' He adds: 'ideally the coating would be 100% water-based, but the amount of solvent in the formulation is very small, so the volatile organic content is still very low.'

TechLine Coatings was established to bring the advantages of aerospace coating technology to the automotive high-performance aftermarket. Since 1986, the company has been in the business of applying or developing products for exhaust systems, brake systems, cooling systems, and internal or external engine parts. The company enforces a rigorous testing programme, both in the laboratory and on the track, to assure that its coatings will meet the highest standards. It headquarters are based in Murrieta, California. It serves its customers from distribution facilities in Murrieta and in Midlothian, Texas.
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