Biopolymers: New application possibilities in electronics and electrical technology through radiation crosslinking

Products in the electrical technology and electronics (E&E) industry have to meet high flame retardant standards and often demanding thermal requirements. Polymers available on the market so far do not meet these requirements. A joint research project, the Fraunhofer WKI, Fraunhofer IAP, BGS and other industrial partners has been successful in developing bio-based flame retardants in bio-plastics for the first time. As a result, plastics out of 100 percent bio-based materials could be used in electronics and electrical technology in the future. The processing was tested within the scope of the research project by means of compounding, injection moulding and additive manufacturing.

During the three-year research project, several objectives were in the focus concerning the development of new bio-plastics and bio-composite materials for applications in electronics and electrical technology. Key priorities were to develop a halogen-free flame retardant (additive) that can be used in bio-plastics if possible in low quantities and with low costs, and to clarify to what extent radiation crosslinking is able to further improve the flame retardancy of the material. “In the course of our sub-project on the effects of electron radiation on the new materials, we defined three objectives,” explains Dr. Dirk Fischer, head of application development at BGS. “Through crosslinking of the new bio-based material, we wanted to increase the flame retardant effect on one hand and on the other hand, achieve a bonding of the flame retardant to the biopolymer. In addition, we wished to verify the crosslinkability of biopolymers already available on the market, in particular, in different formulations and using wooden particles. The results with regard to the crosslinkability and the changes in properties arising therefrom make us confident that new applications for bio-based plastics formulations will emerge from this in the areas of electronics and electrical technology,” Fischer goes on to say.

Newly tested: Electron radiation crosslinking bonds flame retardants to bio-plastic polylactides (PLA)

In order to achieve optimal flame retardancy, it is necessary to distribute the flame retardants homogeneously in the biopolymer matrix out of PLA. The bonding with the biopolymer matrix should be achieved through the specially developed reactive flame retardants. As a new procedure for the bonding of the flame retardants to the matrix, radiation with accelerated electrons (electron radiation) was used. This non-thermic process has been used for many years to improve the properties of bulk plastics and technical plastics and is a standard technique in numerous industries; radiation crosslinking, however, has received little attention so far in the area of bio-plastics. The properties of the polymers are modified here by triggering controllable crosslinking and bonding reactions via the radiation dose. In the tests, an additive proved to be effective where the crosslinking reaction of the PLA demonstrably outweighed the degradation of the polymer through irradiation. Other additives were also tested extensively. “The results improve the level of knowledge about the additives partly used for the first time as well as the processes in the plastics processing,” explains Fischer. “In particular, we were able to demonstrate through this the effects of the irradiation on the crosslinkability of these new bio-based formulations.”

Compounding with bio-PA: Testing flame retardants and radiation crosslinking

In addition, flame-protected formulations were developed in the course of the research project on the basis of bio-polyamides (PA) for injection moulding, and the crosslinkability was examined for the first time under the influence of electron radiation. “It showed that the bio-polyamides used here, namely PA6, PA10 and PA11 can be very effectively crosslinked with the help of a crosslinking additive and have no disadvantages whatsoever compared to conventional fossil-based plastics,” according to BGS project manager Fischer. The positive effect of adding wooden particles to the flame retardant performance could also be demonstrated. As in previous tests with PLA and PBS, the heat release rates were reduced through the addition of wood while shortening the ignition times simultaneously. The promising results are the subject of further research activities. “The crosslinking of the developed materials results in a new properties profile. In the case of nearly all the PA-based formulations, we were able to document an increase of tensile strength and the elastic modulus under tension, with reduction of the notched impact strength,” explains Fischer. “The project has also proven that the production of crosslinkable formulations and their processing shows many parallels to well-known conventional plastics. Bio-based plastics can therefore replace conventional plastics in many applications and their properties spectrum can be further optimised through radiation crosslinking. This not only opens new possibilities in the areas of electronics and electrical technology, but also creates new areas of application in the automotive industry – there is enormous potential here.”

Funding

  • Project title: Development of new applications for bio-plastics and bio-composite materials in electronics and logistics using halogen-free flame retardant systems
  • Funding bodies: Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)
  • Promoters: Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e. V. (FNR)

Project partners

  • Fraunhofer WKI
  • Fraunhofer IAP
  • Clariant Plastics & Coatings (Deutschland) GmbH
  • Linotech GmbH
  • Hesco Kunststoffverarbeitung GmbH
  • Kabel Premium Pulp & Paper GmbH
  • Hager Electro GmbH
  • Rettenmaier & Söhne GmbH
  • Georg Utz GmbH

Project team:

Front row from left to right: Dr. Jens Balko (Fraunhofer IAP), Marc Mohring (J. Rettenmaier & Söhne GmbH), Dr. Antje Lieske (Fraunhofer IAP), Jochen Rausch (BGS), Katharina Krupp (BGS) Michaela Loos (BGS); Back row from left to right: Reinhard Lorenz (Georg Utz GmbH), Bernd Nass (Clariant Plastics & Coatings GmbH), Dr. Arne Schirp (Fraunhofer WKI), Andreas Neufing (Hager Electro GmbH), Dr. Dirk Fischer (BGS).

New head of operations and production at headquarters in Wiehl

With Oliver Borsch, BGS has had a new head of operations and production at its headquarters in Wiehl (North Rhine-Westphalia) since the beginning of January. The trained engineer comes from the aerospace supplier Safran Cabin Germany where he was, amongst other things, head of supply chain management as well as most recently, director of operations. He will assume the management of production and logistics at the headquarters in Wiehl including personnel and technical responsibility. 

“I am fascinated by the underlying business idea at BGS, the variety of application possibilities radiation crosslinking and radiation sterilization offer, and the resulting diversity of partners and customers,” comments Oliver Borsch on his new position at BGS. “In my function as operations manager, it excites me to be able to incorporate my knowledge and experience, for example, in production organisation and shop floor management. Moreover, I am looking forward to discovering and learning new things, such as the technologies used by BGS.”

In his new position, Borsch considers himself responsible for the employees of BGS apart from his task of production organisation: “I have had good experience with continuous improvements of processes and workflows and would like to build on this. It is not about the big plunge that changes everything, but about regular small steps, based on ideas of the team that we pick up on and implement. The exchange with colleagues is important to me in this context: Colleagues imbue the corporate processes with life and are absolutely at the forefront for me as new operating manager,” emphasises Borsch.

“With his many years of experience in supply chain and production management, Oliver Borsch brings along all the requirements to look after production and logistics at BGS optimally, while observing our very high quality standards,” says managing director Dr. Andreas Ostrowicki. “Mr. Borsch is starting his job in a very active phase of our company: Currently, Wiehl is expanding its logistics and production spaces. In addition, we are expanding our laboratory capacities for radiation crosslinking,” Ostrowicki goes on to say.

More capacity through expansion at location in Wiehl

With the expansion of the laboratory and the spaces for logistics and production in Wiehl, BGS is meeting the increased demands placed on material tests for radiation crosslinking as well as the rising demand for sterilization services in the sectors of biotechnology, medicine and diagnostics. The additionally planned spaces amount to approximately 1,000 sqm. In total, BGS is making investments for the expansion in the mid-seven digit range. The work is to be completed by the middle of the year.

Discussions on security of supply dominate this year’s BGS Irradiation Service Days

Exclusive white papers, PDFs and videos for all presentation topics now available free of charge

Wiehl, 11 October 2022 – With the BGS Irradiation Service Days (ISDbyBGS), BGS Beta-Gamma-Service hosted a virtual trade fair on radiation sterilization at the end of September for the second time in a row. On 28 September 2022, experts from business, research and associations joined to analyse current trends and industry-specific themes in lectures, discussion forums and guided virtual tours that revolve around the use of beta and gamma rays in the sterilization of products for the medical technology and biotechnology industry. Exclusive white papers, PDFs and videos on all presentation topics may be called up free of charge until August 2023 after registering on our virtual trade fair platform at https://isd22.bgs.eu/.

The discussion panels at this year’s Irradiation Service Days were primarily dedicated to security of supply in the medical device market. Representatives from industry and associations discussed the current problems in the sector such as shortage of raw materials, supply bottlenecks and high bureaucratic hurdles in the transport of Cobalt-60 sources. The experts from BVMed, Ypsomed and BGS agreed that there was sufficient Cobalt-60 to operate the gamma irradiation facilities, but that due to tightened regulations for transportation companies, it could not be imported to Germany at the moment. This situation affected the entire industry in Germany and, at the same time, had an impact on the whole of Europe. Operators of gamma plants had been under pressure for months as a result of lacking reloads of their facilities.

In view of the Cobalt-60 deliveries, there was a consensus that bureaucracy severely disrupted the functioning of supply chains and made it increasingly difficult for providers of sterilization services and medical device manufacturers to remain operationally functional. “If politics does not take action soon, the lacking reloads will result in further capacity loss and continue to aggravate the already strained market supply of sterile medical devices in the coming months,” explained Thomas Oestereich, Distribution Manager at BGS.

The strained situation of sterilization capacities was also reflected in a survey carried out amongst participants of the virtual trade fair. Asked about the biggest challenge concerning the sterilization of their products, 33 percent stated the availability of sterilization capacities, closely followed by too little know-how about sterilization processes in their own companies (30 percent).

For about one year: Material for downloading free of charge

As of today, video recordings are available of all presentations in the virtual trade fair spaces. In addition, a number of exclusive white papers and complementary material can be downloaded free of charge. After registering at https://isd22.bgs.eu/, those interested can access all recordings and material until August 2023.

BGS Irradiation Service Days 2022: Two-thirds of the participants expect property improvements in applications using radiation crosslinking

Exclusive white papers, PDFs and videos for all presentation topics now available free of charge 

Wiehl, 11 October 2022 – With the BGS Irradiation Service Days (ISDbyBGS), BGS Beta-Gamma-Service hosted a virtual trade fair on radiation crosslinking at the end of September for the second time in a row. On 29 September 2022, experts from science and the industry joined to analyse current trends and industry-specific themes in lectures, discussion forums and guided virtual tours that revolve around the use of beta and gamma rays in the crosslinking of plastics. Exclusive white papers, PDFs and videos on all presentation topics may be called up free of charge until August 2023 after registering on our virtual trade fair platform at https://isd22.bgs.eu/

Visited by experts from the plastics industry, as well as the automotive, cable, pipe, and hose industry as well as mechanical engineering, the trade fair impressed its visitors in particular with the basic lecture “Crosslinking of thermoplastics and elastomers”. In addition, industry-specific presentations such as “Benefits of radiation crosslinking for automotive applications” and “Second source crosslinking of continuous products” convincingly illustrated the advantages of crosslinked plastics for numerous applications. Discussions about the basics, applications, plant technology, and process technology of radiation crosslinking revealed the high degree of knowledge among the participants who joined the live conferences.

Particularly well attended were the short impulses of experts from the University of Aalen, the Institute of Polymer Technology and Ascend Performance Materials on the future of radiation crosslinking. The lecture topics on recycling of radiation crosslinked polyamides, general application-related potentials of radiation crosslinking as well as concrete applications in the electrical industry also provided an introduction to the ongoing R&D projects of BGS with its research partners.

Potential of radiation crosslinking in the property improvements

According to a survey at the BGS Irradiation Service Days, two-thirds of the participants regard the largest potentials of radiation crosslinking in the property improvements of their products. At the same time, over half of those questioned said that they are not yet currently using the technology. “Transfer of knowledge and the personal exchange with customers as well as specialists in research facilities were in the foreground at this year’s BGS Irradiation Service Days. Together with our partners, we actively raise awareness about the benefits of radiation crosslinked plastics,” explained Managing Director of BGS, Dr. Andreas Ostrowicki.

For about one year: Material for downloading free of charge

As of today, video recordings are available of all presentations in the virtual trade fair spaces. In addition, a number of exclusive white papers and complementary material can be downloaded free of charge. After registering at https://isd22.bgs.eu/, those interested can access all recordings and material until August 2023.

BGS Irradiation Service Days 2022: Second virtual trade fair on trends and themes in radiation sterilization and radiation crosslinking

Wiehl, 19 July 2022 – BGS Beta-Gamma-Service extends an invitation to the BGS Irradiation Service Days (ISD) for the second time in a row: On 28 and 29 September, experts will be discussing trends and current themes revolving round the application of electrons and gamma rays for the sterilization of medical devices and products used in biotechnology, as well as for crosslinking plastics. Together with live conferences and discussions, the interactive and virtual fair offers six exhibition halls with guided tours and possibilities for a personal exchange with experts. Participation in the ISDbyBGS is free of charge. Registration is now possible via the event website at www.bgs.eu/isd22. 

ISDbyBGS is a two-day virtual event over the course of which more than 20 experts from business, industry, research and associations will be discussing themes from the world of radiation sterilization and radiation crosslinking. The live presentations, interviews and discussion groups conducted in German and partly in English will be complemented by a virtual trade fair at which visitors will find further information and possibilities to download numerous materials in different spaces, and be able to arrange talks with experts. At the first ISDbyBGS 2021, more than 350 experts took part and informed themselves about processes and implementation options using radiation sterilization and radiation crosslinking.

With a focus on the transfer of knowledge, service and support in carrying out sterilization processes, ISDbyBGS will largely be addressing a professional audience from the field of medicine technology, in-vitro diagnostics and the biotechnology industry on 28 September. On 29 September, we invite experts, in particular from the automotive industry, machine construction and cable and pipe sector, to exchange ideas on the potential of radiation crosslinking, for example, for e-mobility, 3-D printing or for bio-based plastics, and to find out more about recycling of crosslinked polyamides.

Virtual guided tours and exclusive white papers as trade fair highlights
Numerous videos, graphics and brochures are available during the virtual fair as well as for downloading by all participants free of charge. Another highlight are the live guided virtual tours at our BGS location in Bruchsal.

BGS ISD 2022: Register now free of charge!
Wednesday, 28 Sept. 2022

9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Trends and current themes on radiation sterilizationRegistration:
radiation sterilization
Thursday, 29 Sept. 2022

9:00 a.m. – 3:20 p.m.

Trends and current themes on radiation crosslinkingRegistration:
radiation crosslinking

 

BGS Beta-Gamma-Service expands laboratory and logistics spaces

Lab extension starts up at headquarters in Wiehl, spaces for logistics and production will also be created

Wiehl, 8 June 2022 – BGS, specialised provider in the area of radiation sterilization and radiation crosslinking, is expanding its halls for logistics and production in Wiehl (NRW). In order to meet the increased material testing requirements for radiation crosslinking, the company is also investing in the extension of a new laboratory. With the announced extended storage capacities, BGS is responding in particular to the increased need for sterilization services in the sectors of biotechnology, medicine and diagnostics. Overall, BGS is investing a seven-digit amount in the expansion. The additionally planned spaces amount to 1,000 sq m.

“The demand for sterilization capacities is rising steadily. Continuously more orders for crosslinking are being placed at our headquarters in Wiehl. After the move to our new administration quarters in 2020, it is an ideal time to consolidate the freed up space, improve the internal flow of goods in the process, and use the new capacities optimally for the further growth of our company,” explains managing director Dr. Andreas Ostrowicki. “The material testing requirements are also increasing commensurate with the rising number of orders for crosslinking services. With our new spatial possibilities and cutting-edge test equipment, BGS is well prepared to meet the increased requirements.” Depending on the product and the respective area of application, BGS carries out the relevant test procedures such as measuring the degree of crosslinking as well as rheological measurements, amongst others, for customers from the automotive industry, machine construction and the cable and pipe industry. The completion of all construction measures is planned for the first quarter of 2023.

New laboratory supports R & D activities of the medium-sized company

The new equipment and possibilities in the laboratory also benefit the research and development department at BGS. “The focus of our R & D activities at present is the development of new, crosslinkable materials, alternative crosslinking aids and solutions for the sustainability of radiation-crosslinked parts and components,” declares managing director Ostrowicki. “As part of the German innovation network ZIM (Central Innovation Programme) MED-IG-4.0, we are additionally working to further accelerate the progress of the Internet of Things in the medical sector: For example, together with 22 other medium-sized enterprises, we analyse the need for intelligent products and systems from thermoplastic materials, develop new products and improve existing solutions.”

This year, for the first time, Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft e.V. (Donors’ Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany) awarded BGS the seal “Innovative through Research” for its achievements in the area of research and development.

Professional article in the magazine Kunststoffe international: Electron Booster for Electric Vehicles

The conditions in electric vehicles place high demands on the materials used. Therefore, automakers and suppliers must resort to expensive, high-performance plastics. For many applications, cost-effective alternatives are whose properties have been greatly improved by means of treatment with high-energy electron beams. What are the special challenges in electric vehicles and what added value can radiation crosslinking offer?

The complete article is available for download as a PDF here. The German version of the article can be found here.

Furthermore, you can find the publication of the article on the German website of Kunststoffe and on the English website of Kunststoffe (Authors: Dr. Michal Daněk & Wilhelm Schneider / BGS).

 

Source image: © iStock; Phantom1311, Sven Loeffler, BanksPhotos, Zorazhuang, Songsak Paname, Supersmario

DQS Audit 2022: Surveillance successfully passed

Our company is focused on the satisfaction of our customers and the high quality of our services. In order to fulfil this quality claim, we have our company monitored annually by the German Institute for Audits and Certifications of Management Systems (Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Zertifizierung von Managementsystemen [DQS Med GmbH]) within the context of the ISO 9001, ISO 13485 as well as the ISO 11137 certification.

This year’s surveillance audit was carried out over a total of seven days in February 2022 at the three BGS locations Wiehl, Bruchsal and Saal a.d. Donau. As in previous years, BGS meets all the requirements of the aforementioned standards DIN EN ISO 9001, DIN EN ISO 13485 and DIN EN ISO 11137.

A summary of the certifications

DIN EN ISO 9001

  • DIN EN ISO 9001 is an international standard which attests a high quality claim towards customers and third parties.
  • The certification serves as a specifications catalogue for our quality management system.
  • By complying with and implementing the test criteria, BGS benefits from optimised in-house processes, conservation of resources and increased customer and employee satisfaction.
  • The goal of the standard is to understand and implement the demands placed on the company by interested parties.

DIN EN ISO 13485 and DIN EN ISO 11137

  • DIN EN ISO 13485 is an international standard for the quality management system of medical devices whose objective is patient safety. It contains detailed demands on topics such as the architecture, manufacture and placing of medical devices on the market, and it establishes the basis for cooperation between manufacturers and suppliers.
  • In addition, DIN EN ISO 11137 determines the requirements for the development, validation and routine control of the application of a radiation sterilization process for medical devices.

In implementing the changeover to the Medical Device Regulation (MDR), it is crucial in medical technology to have a critical supplier with certified quality management as this is relevant for registration. Both certifications furnish proof of the reliability and safety of the radiation sterilization service provided by BGS.

We are very pleased with the excellent results of the audit and will continue to have our company’s processes and structures reviewed through annual surveillance audits and certification measures in order to continuously develop our competence and expertise. You will find further information on our certifications here.

High quality through certification

Rising demand for irradiation services in medical technology, biotechnology, automotive industry and building sector

Solid growth at BGS Beta-Gamma-Service is impressive

Wiehl, 23 February 2022 As a result of the sustained market growth in the medical technology and biotechnology industries as well as increased demand in the building sector and the automotive industry, the irradiation provider BGS Beta-Gamma-Service continues to record positive sustainable business development. Specialised in applications using electrons and beta and gamma rays, the medium-sized company with its locations in Wiehl, Bruchsal and Saal a.d. Donau closed the financial year 2021 with a total turnover increase in the double-digit percentage range. With double-digit growth rates, BGS recorded an increase in the business segment radiation sterilization particularly with regard to biotechnology products. In addition, the ongoing upswing in the building sector and the expansion of e-mobility ensured a positive development in turnover in the radiation crosslinking segment.

Apart from bioreactors for the production of vaccines and culture media for microbiological testing, medical devices had a particular share in the growth of revenue such as disposable products for laboratory and diagnostics purposes, which are used in the scope of evaluating Covid-19 tests. Intensified demand was registered in the automotive industry and the building sector for the treatment of cables, thus improving their insulation and chemical resistance properties.

With the higher-than-anticipated revenues in total, the positive trend of the last years in the company continued. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have recorded an increased demand for products in the biotechnology sector, consumable materials for laboratories and primary packaging material for the pharmaceutical industry. Due to a backlog of operations and operations taking place again regularly, the sterilization capacities are in strong demand for medical disposable products as well as implants. As a matter of principle, sterilization with rays is an indispensable method to create sterile products for the healthcare system, and especially in times of the pandemic, it is a systemically relevant service. Through the treatment with high-energy beta or gamma rays, we also improve the material properties of inexpensive plastics in such a way that they become permanently more resistant to heat, wear and chemicals. By virtue of their high quality and performance efficiency, they are in increasing demand, particularly for the expansion of e-mobility. As soon as the supply situation for technical plastics has returned to normal, we expect further growth here,” explains BGS Managing Director Dr. Andreas Ostrowicki. The company sees rising energy costs as a challenge in the current financial year.

Investments in production areas planned
Due to the increasing need for irradiation services, the company is continually investing in the expansion of its capacities. In the current financial year, the production spaces will be expanded at the foundation location of BGS in Wiehl, North Rhine-Westphalia. Overall, BGS Beta-Gamma-Service plans investments in the seven-digit range.