Times Techies: Saudi Arabia India engineers develop plastic similar to steel

Developing the plastic , or resin, which is as strong and resistant as metal has been a long-term quest. If one can do it, then there are huge advantages. In the automotive industry, it can help reduce the weight of the vehicle, while maintaining the integrity of the structure.

It's work that the Saudi Arabian petrochemical company Sabic has been involved in, including in its large R&dcenterinbengaluru.andtheefforthasmadesignificantadvances.thebengalurucenter,alongsideothersabiccenters,hasproducedaresin-metalbasedhybridsolutioncallednorylgtxresinthatislighterandasresistantasgenerallyusedmetals.

"You don't normally associate the plastic with high temperatures. But we have developed polymers that can work in very high temperatures (as when a car is painted) and which are replacing traditional metals," says the company’s regional head for South East Asia, Australia & New Zealand, Janardhanan Ramanujalu.

Our resin combines with steel to form a very efficient energy absorption shock box structure. It reduces weight by up to 30% and can be compared to high strength steel and maintains the required level of shock resistance, he says.

The $ 45-billion Sabic - which may become a part of Saudi Arabian oil company Saudi Aramco - is the third largest diversified petrochemicals company in the world. Its R&D center in Bengaluru was built at an initial cost of $ 100 million and is equipped with everything from an electron microscope to high-tech weathering labs to test the wear and tear of products when exposed to the elements. The center, which has 300 engineers, mostly chemical engineers and material scientists, files around 70 patents a year. Globally the company annually files around 400.

“The application design team at the Bengaluru center collaborates with global customers in designing and optimizing the Noryl GTX resin structures which are moulded over onto the steel skeleton of vehicles. These novel light-weight designs help car structures absorb impact energy (if there’s an accident), says Rajeshwer Dongara, head of the Bengaluru site.

The Bengaluru team specializes in conceptualizing designs and adjusting designs based on vehicle type and vehicle style using advanced computer-assisted predictive engineering tools.