Two thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) grades from Huntsman are helping transport car parts, ensuring that expensive vehicle components arrive at their destination damage free and clean, saving car makers time and money.
PolyFlex Products, 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 PolyFlex ensure longevity of its dunnage – typically around five years.
Dunnage is material used to stabilise products in transit, bulking out shipping containers and keeping crates in place. PolyFlex operates in a more technical capacity, producing complex packaging systems for specific products. For the car 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.
For some years, PolyFlex has used polypropylene to create its automotive dunnage, but found PP lacks the lasting wear resistance required. Over time, as sharp heavy components were unpacked repeatedly, the dunnage became prone to splitting and tearing.
Searching for a better solution, PolyFlex started using Thermoplastic Polyurethane. 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 must be released by sliding.
TPU can be used to create complex dunnage, in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and provides excellent vibration dampening qualities for a smoother ride surface.
Furthermore, TPU offers low temperature resistance, maintaining the same physical properties even at sub-zero temperatures. This is important in northern U.S States, such as Michigan, which are renowned for car manufacturing and for long, cold winters. Even in freezing conditions, TPU can retain its flexibility.
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.
“OEMs are now proactively asking for TPU-based solutions. Initially, there were some concerns about the extra up-front investment required; TPU is typically more expensive – but there is a clear return on investment in terms of longevity as well as numerous other benefits. Whether transporting small components, TPU is becoming the ‘go to’ dunnage material for our automotive customers. We love it because of its durability and our customers trust it to keep their components pristine en-route to assembly plants.”
Eric M. Holdt, Americas Distribution Sales Manager at Huntsman, said: “Our polyurethane products and systems are used throughout the automotive industry in the production of car parts – from seating foam and acoustic insulation to under bonnet cables and soft touch interior components. It’s fitting therefore that our Irogran and Avalon grades are now also adding value further down the car production supply chain.”