INNOVATIVE KOMLÓ-BASED COMPANY COMPLETES A NEARLY HUF 800 MILLION R&D PROJECT FOCUSING ON THE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE ECONOMIC MASS PRODUCTION OF BIODEGRADABPLE “PLASTICS” (CORN-BASED PLA).
Komló-based RÁK ANTENNA Kft., together with Debrecen-based PLASTIC-FORM Kft., its partner within the consortium, after having been awarded a non-refundable grant of HUF 468.12 million, started their latest research and development work in November 2016, which is also of international importance in terms of environmental sustainability. In the research, which had a total budget of nearly HUF 800 million, the consortium greatly relied on the high-level scientific work and experienced specialists of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics.
The project has produced significant results even at a global level in the research and application of industrially relevant, corn-based variants of PLA (polylactic acid) and the related technologies.
Environmental pollution and its abatement are one of the hottest issues nowadays. One of the key sources of this problem is petroleum-based plastics (polymers). Most polymer products manufactured on industrial scale are disposed after a single use, and pollute the environment for hundreds of years. It is an ongoing task to reduce this pollution that ranges across all continents and oceans. A feasible way for this is to produce biodegradable polymer products that can be “recycled back into nature” within 6-8 weeks after use without causing any damage.
A great example for this are the so-called “green” polymers, including PLA (polylactic acid), which are derived from plants, such as corn. At the end of their life cycles, these products break down into their components which are environmentally friendly substances.
The consortium contributed to the development of “green” polymers, and in particular of PLA, with its own R & D & I activities, and embraced the environmental sustainability approach and the related responsibilities by promoting their economic industrial-scale use.
As a result of its research and development activity, the consortium, which is active in the automotive supply sector, has reduced the production time of the heat-resistant product that can be manufactured from the source material by injection moulding to a third (in certain cases, even to a tenth) compared to the baseline value, which has laid the foundations for economic mass production.
Other goals of the project included improvement of the properties of PLA as a raw material (long cycle times during processing, low heat resistance, easy flammability, brittleness, low mechanical values, etc.) in order to make it suitable for various purposes and for being painted robotically.
By means of this project, the consortium has made the following achievements:
- The heat resistance of the product was increased from 58°C to 138°C;
- The injection moulding cycle time was reduced from 10 minutes to less than 1 minute for products with a heat resistance above 95°C;
- The flammability rating was improved from “UL 94 H-B” (easily flammable) to “UL 94 V-0” (flame retardant), which is a better category than the one required by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS);
- The brittleness of the material was reduced by two thirds, i.e. its impact strength was increased by 300%;
- Owing to the material developed to improve foamability, a 30% weight loss was achieved for injection moulded products by optimising the ARBURG ProFoam physical foaming process;
- Injection moulded PLA products were rendered suitable for robotic painting;
- The newly developed material compositions have retained their biodegradability.
As a result of the project, RÁK Antenna Kft., the consortium leader, became capable of developing, manufacturing and robotically painting PLA products, as well as of developing injection mouldable materials, preparing master batches, and transferring the know-how necessary for processing these materials. Plastic-Form Kft. has become able to offer to its customers the flow analysis of PLA-based injection moulded products, and to design and manufacture intelligent and optimised injection moulding tools.
The project was implemented between 1 November 2016 and 30 April 2019.
Project identification number: GINOP-2.1.1-15-2016-01063
For further information on the project, please visit the www.rakantenna.hu and www.plastic-form.hu websites.
To request additional information, please contact:
Norbert Rajnai – Consortium Manager
Contact information (telephone number: +36 72 581 150, e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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