Green metal-to-plastic conversion with innovative plastics helps diverse industries

To accelerate the trend toward replacing metals with high-performance, durable and versatile thermoplastic compounds, SABIC Innovative Plastics has collaborated with Swiss software maker KISSsoft AG. KISSsoft is now applying gear sizing calculations for 17 grades of SABIC Innovative Plastics’ LNP* specialty compounds, including high-temperature, internally lubricated and fiber-reinforced grades. Now, engineers and designers can replace trial and error with validated data on parameters such as strength, temperature resistance and tooth flank wear to significantly streamline their gear design process. This new solution can help a wide range of industries, from healthcare and automotive to food services, leverage the advantages of plastic gears to reduce system cost, greatly expand design freedom, lower weight and deliver higher performance. “A major roadblock to designing plastic gears has been the lack of reliable data,” said Dr. Stefan Beermann, CEO KISSsoft AG. “Sizing calculations for metal gears cannot be applied to plastics because plastics’ performance properties can vary with temperature. Our work with SABIC Innovative Plastics has enabled KISSsoft to incorporate the properties of a large group of the company’s high-end compounds into our calculation software, radically simplifying the gear design process. Whether the gears are for cable car systems, construction equipment, Formula 1 race car transmissions or spacecraft, customers can now select and evaluate SABIC Innovative Plastics’ specialty compounds quickly and accurately. Metal-to-plastic conversion represents a major trend and a significant improvement in gear technology. Plastic gears deliver a number of improvements over traditional metal, beginning with significantly enhanced design freedom. Molding instead of machining enables new configurations while avoiding the costs of secondary operations. The lighter weight of plastics also reduces inertia for greater gear efficiency. Additionally, moving plastic parts are significantly quieter than metal, helping to reduce ambient noise from machinery. The first group of SABIC Innovative Plastics’ LNP materials to be validated includes reinforced grades using short and long glass fibers and carbon fibers, various lubricant technologies and eight different base polymers. Data for these grades, provided by SABIC Innovative Plastics, include temperature-dependent values for modulus, static bending strength and characteristic wear values during dry running. The two companies are working to expand this portfolio.
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