RFP - Rubber Fibres Plastics International

Artificial and natural intelligence

Do you trust AI? I must admit, I sometimes even mistrust the search function of simple data bases, when I don’t know how they are structured. It’s true, there are many things, like analysis of large datasets or the identification of patterns, intelligent machines can do better than humans. But when it comes to decision making, artificial intelligence has to rely on the criteria and algorithms it has been given by scientists – natural intelligence. Besides, most decisions are not left or right, black or white, in one word digital. There are usually gray areas where factors have to be weighted. So, if we have to make decisions based on the results of an AI, it is important to be able to roughly understand how they are derived, to know the working principle of the AI, and to be able to assess the plausibility of the results.

That’s why it is so important that software providers and users work closely together in the development of suitable algorithms as Hexpol, DatenBerg did. Together they developed an algorithm for an analysis software to predict the quality of the compound based on process parameters (p. 103). To enable collaborations between humans and AI Yokohama Rubber has launched HAICoLab (an acronym for “Humans and AI ColLaborate”) in October 2020 (p. 73).

For Desma, virtual collaboration defines the new world of work, especially in times of Corona (p. 80). Several market reports shed a light on the lingering influence of the pandemic and raw material shortages on the industry: Composites Germany presents its 16th Composites Market Survey and says the assessment of current business situation is brightening up (p. 68). According to European Plastics Converters (EuPC), raw material shortages in Europe impact production of plastic products (p. 78). And Amaplast presents market figures for 2020 and speaks of a difficult year for Italian manufacturers of plastics and rubber processing machinery (p. 79).

Albeit somewhat in the background the still important topics tire recycling and sustainability are not forgotten. wdk President Anish K. Taneja sees the rubber industry as a considerable contributor to a sustainable economy, as he says in our interview on page 65. Fecken-Kirfel and Salvadori describe how tyre recycling opens up new chances for sustainable products (p. 82).

One such application is the use of recycled waterjet rubber powder in S-SBR-based rubber compounds which is described by scientists from TRS Tyre Recycling Solutions and Trinseo on page 87. Other materials discussed in this issue are liquid silicone elastomer for marine underwater cables (CHT, p. 71), urea-resistant EPDM gaskets and hoses (Hoffmann-Mineral, p. 74), and butyl rubber: A unique polymer with a diverse cure chemistry (Arlanxeo, p. 96).

Enjoy reading!
Christine Rüdiger


Rubber industry considerably contributes to a sustainable economy – Interview with wdk President Anish K. Taneja

Anish K. Taneja, President Michelin Region Europe North, has been appointed as the new President of the Wirtschaftsverband der deutschen Kautschukindustrie e. V., wdk, the German Rubber Industry Association, in November 2020. In the interview on the occasion of taking office, he talks about the role of the rubber industry in dealing with challenges such as the transformation of mobility, climate protection, the energy transition and the circular economy, the impact of the pandemic on the tire industry, and the necessary framework to enable a sustainable industry.


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Composites Germany presents 16th Composites Market Survey – Assessment of current business situation is brightening up

For the 16th time, Composites Germany has identified the latest key performance indicators for the fibre-reinforced plastics market. The survey covered all the member companies of the three major umbrella organisations of Composites Germany: AVK – Federation of Reinforced Plastics e. V., Leichtbau Baden-Württemberg and the VDMA Working Group on Hybrid Lightweight Technologies. As before, to ensure a smooth comparison with the previous surveys, the questions in this half-yearly survey have been left unchanged. Once again, the data obtained in the survey was largely qualitative and related to current and future market developments.


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Feica position paper on the registration of polymers

Polymers are currently not included in the registration requirements under Regulation (EU) No. 1907/2006 – Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). However, in terms of Article 138(2) of REACH, a possible further review is foreseen to extend the registration requirements to polymers. If the risk posed by certain polymers can be proven, and practical and cost-efficient ways of selecting polymers requiring registration (PRR) can be established, registration requirements under REACH will be extended to polymers. Feica, the Association of the European Adhesive & Sealant Industry, recently published the perspective of the adhesives and sealants industry in a position paper.


Liquid silicone elastomer for marine underwater cables

A material that is lightweight, flexible, resilient and with simple processing requirements is clearly an asset to the toolbox of any materials engineer. Customers demand broad operating temperature ranges and the very best insulating properties. SilSo SE 2014 is a new liquid silicone product that has been developed specifically for the marine industry, in the manufacture of underwater cables. This report documents the development of the product including laboratory formulation and the industrial process. Suitability for the end use is discussed, along with some potential future applications requiring lightweight silicone materials.


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Predicting physical properties of rubber using AI

The Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd. has developed a proprietary system that utilizes AI to predict the physical properties of rubber compounds. The system is already being used to design rubber compounds for Yokohama tires.


Raw material shortages in Europe impact production of plastic products

According to European Plastics Converters (EuPC), the European market for polymers has been under pressure for several months and the negative consequences of raw material shortages and price increases are seriously impacting the production of plastic products in the EU. Plastic converting companies all over Europe report difficulties in getting the necessary raw materials to keep their production running, and alarmingly low stocks.


Difficult year for Italian manufacturers of plastics and rubber processing machinery – Amaplast presents market figures for 2020

The double-digit dip in the import-export markets for the entire period January-September 2020 and the complex economic context due to the world health crisis prompt the trade association Amaplast to predict a rather negative year-end result for the Italian plastics and rubber processing machinery, equipment, and moulds industry.


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Virtual collaboration defines the new world of work – Solutions from Desma for the work of decentralised teams

The whole working world is changing, especially with regard to the Corona pandemic. Where some time ago short conversations could be held directly in the office, today loneliness often reigns. Many employees work decentrally from their homes. But even before the Corona pandemic, it was clear that the world of work was about to undergo a major transformation. The increasingly complex demands placed on globally active companies require a new level of collaboration. This involves bringing together people who are geographically distant from each other, but who nevertheless work together. An effective and simple form of communication is required from all employees who work together on a site-by-site or even global basis. The Fridingen-based German company Klöckner Desma Elastomertechnik GmbH has adapted optimally to this change.


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Tyre recycling – new chances for sustainable products

Old tyres are a valuable resource, as rubber retains its positive material properties when recycled. This opens up many opportunities for processing end-of-life tyres (ELT), not least because specialised engineering companies are enabling ever more efficient production processes for tyre recycling and processing in the form of rubber granulate. As a result, the spectrum of sustainable products made in this process is growing.


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New reports and surveys on tire recycling

Weibold, an international consulting company specialized exclusively on tire recycling and end-of-life tire pyrolysis has recently published an in-depth survey of the technology and business of tire pyrolysis.


PEFC-certified natural rubber – Vietnam takes a big step towards certified forests through PEFC endorsement

Vietnam is the latest member country to have its national forest system endorsed by the forest certification organisation PEFC (the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification).


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Fraunhofer IAP: Surface analysis at the highest level

Only a few atomic layers determine whether a surface is water-repellent, printable, paintable, adhesive or antibacterial. The surface of many products is therefore specifically modified. Thanks to a new X-ray photoelectron spectrometer, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam-Golm, Germany, can now analyse surfaces even more precisely, which is helpful when developing a process or determining sources of failures. Companies and partners can benefit not only from the new analytical capabilities at Fraunhofer IAP, but also from the extensive expertise in material development, which facilitates the interpretation of data and the tuning of a manufacturing process.


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Using AI for dynamic reduction of rheological measurement frequency

Variations in input raw materials or deviations in the mixing processes can strongly influence the quality of a rubber compound. Today, this can only be determined after it has passed through the production cycle for example by means of a rheometer test. Together with Hexpol, the artificial intelligence (AI) provider DatenBerg has developed an algorithm for the smartPLAZA analysis software that can be used to predict the quality of the compound based on process parameters. The result of this work supports employees on the shopfloor in controlling the process and avoiding scraps. The solution implemented at Hexpol's mixing plant is used as an example to explain the function and results.


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IKV: Prof. Georg Menges passed away

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. mont. E. h. Georg Menges, Professor emeritus, holder of the Chair of Plastics Processing and long-time head of the Institute for Plastics Processing (IKV) at RWTH Aachen University, passed away on 28 February 2021 at the age of 97.


Urea-resistant EPDM gaskets and hoses – VW TL 52686 – Replacement of carbon black N990 with Aktisil VM 56

EPDM is used for a very wide range of applications in the automotive industry. Selective catalytic reduction has become established in making diesel engines more environmentally friendly. As an aqueous urea solution (AdBlue) is employed here, the hoses and seals in the vehicle that come into contact with this substance must have sufficient resistance to urea. Carbon black N990 is often used as a filler in such applications. This study investigates the substitution of this carbon black with Aktisil VM 56. Aktisil VM 56 is a Neuburg Siliceous Earth-based mineral filler marketed by Hoffmann Mineral GmbH. The unique structure of the siliceous earth enables results to be obtained that are not possible with carbon black N990 or other fillers alone. The substitution of carbon black N990 with Aktisil VM 56 allows, for example, a higher vulcanisation speed to be achieved, resulting in a shorter conversion time. Use of Aktisil VM 56 also enables the modulus to be significantly improved. The substitution of carbon black N990 with Aktisil VM 56 enables blooming-free products and improved collapse resistance during extrusion. The use of Aktisil VM 56 also leads to a significant reduction in the costs with identical resistance to urea.


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Properties of S-SBR-based rubber compound containing recycled waterjet rubber powder

Managing end-of-life tyres remains both a technological challenge and a burden for society as the durability of tyres which makes them so invaluable to modern society hinders their recyclability. As compared to traditional methods of tyre disposal like incineration, the circular use of tyre rubber can reduce the environmental impact of these materials. This study investigates the effect of addition of waterjet rubber powder on the processing and the properties of a sample recipe of tread compound for a passenger car tyre. The findings indicate that recycled material can be successfully incorporated within new rubber compound without compromise of the mechanical properties.


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Butyl rubber: A unique polymer with a diverse cure chemistry

Butyl Rubber (IIR) is a unique polymer with high permeation resistance, high damping and excellent thermal and chemical stability. The relatively low levels of unsaturation in these polymers provide limited sites for curing. Halogenation allows for improved cure compatibility with other rubber types with high diene content by increasing both the vulcanization rate and state of cure. This article will explain the chemical constitution of IIR, the resulting chemical properties and describe some of the unique cure properties of this class of polymers and will highlight the versatility of brominated butyl (BIIR).


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