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20th August 2018, Cologne

More flight time thanks to lightweight materials

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), commonly known as drones, have undergone rapid development over the past few years. Whether as a toy for children and adults or – in top quality – as support for rescue operations and in farming, drones are becoming increasingly common.

Market research institute Gartner estimates that around three million drones were sold worldwide in 2017 – almost 40% more than in the previous year. Gartner also predicts that drones will be one of the strongest-growing sectors in consumer electronics over the coming years. Corporate consultants at PwC expect a global market of almost US$ 130 billion for drone-based services, for example in infrastructure, transport and security.

Lanxess's Durethan materials are in use for drone propellers but are also suited for drone bodies and landing gear. © Lanxess

Due to the diverse range of applications that can be carried out using the devices, demands on drones are increasing. “This opens up new opportunities for growth for material manufacturers, for example in high-performance plastics,” says Lanxess, a leading German specialty chemicals company.

More flight time

“One challenge facing manufacturers is the limited flight time of drones. As well as improving battery capacity and investigating new sources of energy, manufacturers can also reduce the energy consumption of drones and thus increase their flight time by taking advantage of lightweight solutions, like in the automotive industry,” the manufacturer continues. “Here, specialty chemicals company Lanxess is able to draw on its experience in the lightweight construction business for the automotive sector and now also offers lightweight solutions for the drone industry using its high-performance plastics.”

At Chinaplas 2018 in April, the Lanxess High Performance Materials (HPM) business unit presented a range of high-end material solutions, including a drone propeller made of short glass fibre-reinforced Durethan (Polyamide 6). Thanks to its balanced material properties, the injection moulded parts are lighter while offering good strength and rigidity. The material is resistant against aging by UV rays and therefore well-suited for use outdoors.

As well as wings and propellers, the high-performance plastics can also be used for drone bodies and landing gear. The materials help to reduce the weight of the aerial vehicle and thus enable longer flight times, as well as reducing vibrations and noise.

Drone propellers made of short glass fibre-reinforced Durethan from Lanxess are lighter while offering good strength and rigidity. © Lanxess

“In light of the rapid development of the high-tech industry and the increasing popularity of electric drives, Lanxess sees significant, additional potential for the use of its products. Based on Lanxess products PA6, PA66 and PBT, we have developed innovative solutions to meet the demand for high-quality products,” said Dr Axel Tuchlenski, Head of Global Product and Application Development at Lanxess’s business unit High Performance Materials.

Lightweight materials

Lanxess high-performance plastics are used in a wide range of areas, such as in electrical and electronic applications, in lightweight design, in charging equipment, battery solutions, sensors for automated driving, in motor housings and in e-mobility infrastructure, such as charging stations.

As well as the polyamide materials of the Durethan series, Lanxess offers high-performance materials under the Pocan (PBT, Polybutylenterephthalate) and Tepex (thermoplastic fibre composites) brands.

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