At the International Plasitcs Showcase (NPE) 2012, SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business announced the use of its Lexan and Cycoloy resins in Equipment Technologies’ (ET) tough, optimally designed Apache agricultural sprayer hood. The new product was developed to help overcome performance issues associated with fiberglass and metal, such as cracking or fading from exposure to high temperatures and ultraviolet (UV) light. This collaboration between Equipment Technologies, Allen Extruders, LLC, AMD Plastics, and SABIC, uses Allen Extruders’ Alextra-MV sheet – a material made with SABIC’s Lexan SLX resin coextruded over Cycoloy resin and is vacuum formed by AMD – to slash the weight by up to 140 lbs. versus previous fiberglass hoods. The development of the new sprayer hood demonstrates how SABIC supports customer success through a deep understanding of industry, product and value chain requirements.
“As the trend toward mega farms increases and more farmers turn to self-propelled agricultural sprayers to replace pull-behind models, the Apache sprayer is a logical choice, especially given its enhanced design, lighter weight and increased durability,” says Chad Ringer, lead engineer, Equipment Technologies. “Equally important, the Alextra-MV sheet made with SABIC’s high-performance Lexan and Cycoloy resins helped solve the problems of cracks and scratches customers experienced with the previous fiberglass hood, leading to higher customer satisfaction. We are already seeing increased sales, and the new design of the Apache hood has generated positive feedback from our customers. Clearly, our collaboration with SABIC, AMD, and Allen Extruders made this product the resounding success that it is.”
The new custom-colored hood – measuring 93.25 in. x 49.52 in. x 56.13 in. – is used in all three Apache sprayer models and is a perfect example of the significant cost advantages of thermoforming versus injection molding a large part. The Lexan and Cycoloy resin construction also enabled AMD to create a sleek new part that integrates the bumper and hood and delivers superior resistance to impact, abrasion and chemicals compared to traditional materials, helping ET reduce warranty claims. At the same time, Alextra-MV sheet delivers a superior alternative to traditional materials such as fiber-reinforced plastic and structural molding compound, and avoids the need for secondary painting and finishing required with metal.
High Performance in the field
The two SABIC resins used in Alextra-MV sheet play important roles in the overall performance of the Apache hood. As the pre-colored cap layer, Lexan SLX polycarbonate (PC) resin delivers excellent weatherability, including UV and heat resistance, as well as excellent impact and a high-quality surface finish. The Cycoloy resin substrate, a blend of PC and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), provides high impact performance and high heat deflection capability, which is particularly important as manufacturers seek to comply with Tier 4 Interim and Final U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) heat emission standards.
According to Mike Ringquist, sales manager, Allen Extruders, a Sekisui Chemical Company, “Our Alextra-MV coextruded sheet leverages these two exceptional SABIC materials to raise the industry standard for aesthetics and durability under extreme weather conditions, such as those found in crop spraying. Like the ‘MV’ in its name signals, the Alextra-MV sheet is our ‘most versatile’ and has many applications in agricultural equipment, heavy trucks and recreational vehicles. We were very pleased to work with SABIC, AMD Plastics and Equipment Technologies to help create a new sprayer hood with major performance and aesthetic improvements versus fiberglass.”
“This four-way collaboration across the value chain shows the rewards that come from really listening to the customer’s challenges, objectives and preferences, then working together to come up with a creative solution,” says Michael Gilbert, general manager, Innovative Plastics. “Our innovative material technologies, combined with Allen Extruders’ expertise in high-performance sheet solutions and AMD Plastics’ exceptional design and production resources, are helping Equipment Technologies achieve its quality, growth and customer satisfaction goals for the Apache sprayer product line.”