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Airtech Europe
Airtech Europe
Techtextil NA & TexProcess

1st May 2019, Thornton Cleveleys

The power of advancing polymers to parts

Victrex’s composite solution in Magma’s m-pipe. © Magma Global

Victrex’s composite solution in Magma’s m-pipe. © Magma Global

Victrex, a leader in high-performance polymer solutions, is celebrating the invention of PEEK polymer 40 years ago and will be exhibiting at OTC 2019 in Houston, TX, next week, to emphasise how it has developed its polymers to final parts product range.

“In PEEK´s 40th anniversary year, we can take a look back and see just how Victrex’s PEEK innovation has changed sectors, such as energy and how Victrex has transformed into a global material, technology and solutions provider. Power to progress polymers could be our mantra today,” said James Simmonite, Director Energy at Victrex.

Today’s list of Victrex PAEK and PEEK-based innovations covers polymers, films, fibres, pipes, composite and gear solutions. In addition, strategic investments and development partnerships with leading companies, such as Magma Global in the energy industry, are further propelling the company.

In the oil and gas sector, Magma’s m-pipe technology serves as one of the prime examples of utilising Victrex PEEK thermoplastic composite. This subsea pipeline solution has been designed to reduce exploration and production costs and risks for demanding risers, jumpers, flowlines and downlines applications. At the end of 2016, Victrex invested a minority interest in Magma to further facilitate its adoption. Outstanding properties make m-pipe a cost-effective alternative to traditional steel and non-bonded flexible pipe. It requires minimal maintenance and, since it is not subject to corrosion, has a longer lifetime than steel.

Sealing solutions

Victrex recently launched a new cryogenics polymer Victrex CT 200, specifically designed for dynamic sealing applications. This series I designed to exhibit improved sealing over a wider range of temperatures, compared to commonly-used materials such as PCTFE.

Fine detailed porous structure printed in Victrex PEEK using BOND3D technology. © Bond High Performance 3D Technology

Fine detailed porous structure printed in Victrex PEEK using BOND3D technology. © Bond High Performance 3D Technology

Victrex CT polymers have also been shown to maintain better dimensional stability, with a lower coefficient of thermal expansion than incumbent material. The higher thermal conductivity of these Victrex polymers enables a fast response to temperature changes, ensuring the material is always engaged with the counter-surface. In addition, laboratory testing indicates that they may require less torque to actuate since they have a lower static and dynamic coefficient of friction compared to PCTFE. This results in less wear, higher performance and a potential for cost savings, the company reports.

Seal rings, thrust washers, bushings and bearings made of PEEK are also used in many applications where they must withstand extremely high pressures, high temperatures, aggressive chemicals, and corrosive environments and consequently help to improve service life and reliability to eliminate costly downtimes.

2019 JEC Innovation Award

Victrex’s long-term material and processing know-how contributed to another PAEK-composite based innovation: German-based Herone’s all-thermoplastic drive-shaft system overmoulded with an integral gear. It was recently also recognised with a 2019 JEC Innovation Award. The application builds on three Victrex pillars: PEEK polymer; Victrex AE 250 unidirectional tape (UDT) thermoplastic composite; and the hybrid overmoulding processing technique developed by Victrex.

Gearing up with PEEK polymers

Gear solutions replacing metals have shown a reduction in rattle and noise issues in automotive engine applications by up to 50% (3dB). Compared to powdered metal gears, the weight and moment of inertia is also considerably lower with Victrex HPG gears, contributing to higher system efficiency in automotive applications.

Valve seat insert made from Victrex CT 200. © Victrex

Valve seat insert made from Victrex CT 200. © Victrex

Victrex’s gear offering includes high-precision gear design, prototyping, testing and manufacturing capabilities to help customers gain a competitive advantage.

Proactive investments in the future

Continued improvement in application performance to accelerate innovation is an integral part of strategy and success at Victrex. Proactive investment in the development of next-generation thermoplastic solutions have, for example, resulted in:

  • The completion of a multi-million world class ‘Polymer Innovation Centre’ in 2017
  • The acquisition of Kleiss Gears (2015) and the fibre manufacturer Zyex (2017)
  • A joint venture called TxV Aero Composites (2017) to manufacture aerospace parts;
  • UD tape composites manufacturing
  • Investments in PtFS (Production to Functional Specification), an innovative tooling design and processing technology from Surface Generation (2019);
  • Minority share in Bond High Performance 3D Technology (2019) to help customers with an accelerated route to market for 3D printed PAEK parts

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