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Novel Injection Moulding Processing for the Production of Low Density Foams based on Innovative Granule Technology (LIGHT-FOAM)
Start date: Dec 1, 2008, End date: Nov 30, 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Our concept is to enable the production of high quality foams from engineering grade thermoplastics using existing injection moulding and extrusion equipment installed in our SME communities. We propose the creation of a novel polymer processing technology. We will develop the ability to foam engineering grade thermoplastics without the need for chemical blowing agents or speciality moulding equipment. Our technology offers many advantages for SME injection moulders & extruders in sectors such as aerospace, automotive and construction. We will: • Eliminate the need to invest in expensive processing machinery to make foam parts • Eliminate the need for chemical blowing agents • Reduce material consumption • Reduce energy consumption through lower process temperatures • Produce low density, consistent foams with excellent mechanical properties • Reduce part cost and finishing operation requirements • Increase manufacturing flexibility We have selected engineering grade thermoplastics, which will be saturated with nitrogen gas at temperatures above Tg, where diffusion rates of gas within the polymer are significantly increased. The granules will then be cooled below Tg, ‘trapping’ the nitrogen molecules within. The granules will be packaged and shipped to SME moulders for use in standard moulding machines. During processing, melting of the polymer will release the trapped nitrogen, producing foam in the moulding machine. We will develop our understanding of melt processing technology to ensure optimum processing speed, density and mechanical performance. Initial trials have already indicated the potential of this process but the technology needs considerable further development for successful commercialisation. We strongly believe that our technological breakthroughs will benefit the European polymer processing community, which is facing significant threats from lower cost imports"
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