Converting Silicone-Coated Airbag Scrap into Injection-Grade Polyamide 66
Japan’s Toray Industries has developed a recycled polyamide (PA) 66 material recovered from silicone-coated airbag fabric scrap cuttings. This grade reportedly achieves the same flowability and mechanical properties as virgin PA 66 injection molding grades.
Industrial recycler Refinverse Group strips the silicone from airbag fabric scrap cuttings and cleans the recovered plastic, which Toray then uses to create the PA 66 grade by combining the resin with specific additives. Toray will debut the new offering under the brand name Ecouse (pronounced Eco-Use) Amilan. Toray established the Ecouse brand in 2015 for eco-friendly recycled materials and products.
PA 66 fabric used in airbags can be either silicone-coated or non-coated. Manufacturers normally recycle the scrap cuttings of non-coated fabrics. Recycling coated airbag fabric scrap cuttings requires removing the silicone. Refinverse was the first in Japan to achieve commercial-scale silicone-coated fabric recycling.
Recycling through stripping and washing typically left traces of silicone, which degrades the resin and contaminates molds during injection molding. Another issue is the high viscosity of airbag yarn limiting high-flow applications in thin-wall and other injection molding processes.
Toray combined specific additives to prevent residual silicone from migrating to the surface of molded products. It also greatly reduced mold adhesion. The flowability and mechanical properties of recycled PA 66 using Toray’s technology reportedly is on a par with virgin PA 66.
Toray plans to start full-fledged sample shipments of Ecouse Amilan in April 2023 at the soonest It ultimately plans to procure recycled raw materials at its overseas sites to establish a global supply system. It will also explore commercializing recycled PA 66 products made from airbags recovered from end-of-life vehicles.
Toray has developed recycled plastic products derived primarily from post-industrial scrap materials from in-house production processes, undertaking such efforts as recycling used air conditioner parts into new ones. It aims to extend recycling to used automotive parts and industrial equipment.
Toray intends to launch Ecouse Toraycon as a chemically recycled polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) resin exhibiting properties equivalent to virgin materials. It will keep assessing material recycling and chemical recycling for its own polymers in its drive to expand the Ecouse lineup by debuting such products as Ecouse Toyolac acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and Ecouse Torelina polyphenylene sulfide (PPS).