Piper Plastics develops ultrahigh-performance, injection moldable thermoplastic composite

Piper Plastics' Kyron MAX line of thermoplastics is injection moldable and is said to offer strength similar to prepregged composites, but in a faster, more consistent process.

Piper Plastics (Chandler, Ariz., USA) reports that it has developed Kyron MAX, a new line of injection-moldable thermoplastic composites that are said to bridge the performance gap between standard injection molding compounds and prepreged composites. Targeted markets include aerospace, automotive, industrial, oil and gas and medical.

The new line includes three series with progressively higher tensile properties because of the fillers used, respectively, as follows: Series S includes PEEK, PPS, PEI, PPA, and nylon 6/6 reinforced with the company’s proprietary MAX fibers and sizing technology and targeted to replace aluminum, cast iron and magnesium; Series ES and Series XS are comprised of PEEK and PPA reinforced with MAX fibers, glass fibers and carbon fibers.  Series ES is targeted to replace steel, aluminum, cast iron and magnesium whereas XS can replace titanium, stainless steel, steel, aluminum, cast iron and magnesium. According to materials engineering manager Dave Wilkinson, Series S materials are designed for conventional injection molding, whereas ES and XS are designed for proprietary high-pressure molding technology developed by the company.

Wilkinson says the MAX fibers are commercially available and "carbon-like" and range from short (1 mm) to long (20 to 25 mm). Piper's proprietary molding system, he says, uses a custom-designed low-shear injection system that offers fiber length retention of 50 to 85 percent. The company's high-pressure molding system, he says, offers injection pressures "greater than standard injection molding" and can mold parts up to 2 inches/50.8 mm thick. The key technology of Kyron MAX, says Wilkinson, is the sizing, which he says maximizes the fiber/resin bonding strength.

Among the key features of the Kyron MAX materials are higher-than-steel tensile strength at more than 100,000 psi, weight that is nearly 75 percent less than steel and about 60 percent less than titanium, and the ability to mold components in a high-volume, tightly controlled process that significantly reduce the manufacturing costs associated with prepregged composites. Wilkison notes that Piper was able to replace an automotive component previously made of nylon 66 reinforced with 60 percent long-glass fiber loading, with a nylon 66 reinforced with 20 percent MAX fiber, resulting in 25 percent lower weight and more ductility. Potential interior automotive applications include screws and nuts and bracketing as well as underhood components. 

Working with two aerospace companies and using a material from the XS Series, the company developed a ¼ in., single #10 plastic screw based on titanium screw geometry which can hold a load of more than 700 lb/318 kg and is half the weight of the titanium screw.

Piper is not a compounder and is not selling the Kyron MAX. The company is a parts fabricator and offers molding and machining services. Primary markets and applications include medical equipment, medical devices, implants; aerospace clips/fasteners/brackets/pass-throughs; oil and gas; electronics; recreation; automotive. The company has four facilities, three in the U.S. and one in Thailand.