Component Management

Materials protect parts in transit

9th March 2017
Peter Smith

Two thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) grades from Huntsman are helping to ensure that vehicle components arrive at their destination damage free and clean – and saving original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and car makers significant amounts of time and money.   PolyFlex Products (PFP), a US-based manufacturer of specialist dunnage, is using two of Huntsman’s abrasion resistant IROGRAN and AVALON TPU grades to boost the performance and longevity of its custom trays, containers, nests and racks.

Switching to TPU has helped PFP ensure the longevity of its dunnage – typically around five years. It has also reduced incidents of dunnage damage caused by atypical usage.   Dunnage is used to stabilize products in transit. In its most basic form it bulks out shipping containers and stops boxes and crates moving around. PFP is said to operate at the more technical end of the dunnage spectrum, producing complex packaging systems, tailor made to fit specific products. For the automotive industry, this includes bespoke solutions that fit securely around engines, gear transmissions, axles, windshields and body panels – protecting them against damage and breakages, which are inherent with truck, rail and sea shipments.   PFP has produced custom dunnage for automotive OEMs for many years. The business creates plastic and rubber parts, which work in conjunction with metal racks that are stacked inside road, rail and sea containers. Historically, PFP used polypropylene to create its automotive dunnage but the material in question lacked the lasting wear properties required. Over time, as sharp heavy components were unpacked repeatedly, the dunnage became prone to splitting and tearing.   Searching for a better solution, PFP started using TPU. Assisted by Major Polymers, a distributor of Huntsman TPU, the business picked two abrasion resistant TPU grades from Huntsman, each with a different shore hardness: 90A for heavy components; and 60D for parts that have to be released by sliding.

TPU offers low temperature resistance, maintaining the same physical properties even at sub-zero temperatures. This is important areas renowned for car manufacture and for long, cold winters. Even in freezing conditions, TPU can retain its flexibility – helping to preserve ride quality.   Working with Major Polymers and Huntsman, PFP has been able to expand the use of TPU across a much broader range of dunnage applications. Recently, the business has begun trialing a third type of TPU for the transportation of automotive components. Ken Bylo, Vice President at PolyFlex Products, said: “The use of TPU in automotive dunnage has been growing steadily over the last decade. We were one of the first adopters of this material for this purpose – and with help from Major Polymers we are extending its role. It’s taken a while for the wider automotive industry to wake up to the benefits of TPU – but there is now a real shift in the sector.”

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