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January 30, 2024
3 Min Read
NicoElNino/iStock via Getty Images
At a Glance
- Acquisition of ABSA Resin Technologies brings range of engineered compounds plus expertise in sustainable raw materials
- Kenaf fiber compounds also added to the Kafrit portfolio
- Carbon nanotube compounding perfected for conductive and EMI shielding applications
Israeli masterbatch and compound manufacturer Kafrit has acquired Canadian compounding concern ABSA Resin Technologies, which specializes in the development and manufacturing of filled and reinforced thermoplastic compounds for a range of engineered applications, including automotive, construction, and consumer electronics. According to Thomas Bernhardt, VP for Strategic Projects at Kafrit, “ABSA brings an interesting portfolio of several plastic compounds, including filled, unfilled, fiber-reinforced, and unreinforced grades, and they also possess significant knowledge in using post-industrial material to formulate high-value-added custom compounds.”
Bernhardt adds: “Approximately 40% of the raw materials they use are of post-industrial origin. This is a great fit with Kafrit’s sustainability strategy.”
In the automotive market segment, ABSA has a portfolio based on polypropylene (PP) and polyamide (PA) for the aftermarket, which Kafrit believes it can build on. Bernhardt also sees opportunities for ABSA in under-the-hood applications such as connectors.
Another area of interest is drop-in bio-based PP and ABS compounds. But as a first step to increase the bio content of its product offerings, Kafrit established a collaboration with fellow Israeli company Kenaf Venture that has developed sustainable compounds based on kenaf plant natural fibers. While the concept of kenaf reinforcement has been around for a while, Kafrit feels that it has identified a partner with sufficient fiber quality to compound products at a different quality level and partly replace other fiber types. Most compounds are based on PP. Industrial trials in consumer goods, agriculture, and automotive are underway, and the results are quite promising according to Bernhardt.
Finding Nemo (and nano)
A third new partner of Kafrit is Israeli tech startup Nemo Nanomaterials, in which Kafrit has invested a significant majority stake. The company has developed technology to uniformly disperse carbon nanotubes (CNTs) throughout thermoplastic matrixes. “The challenge with both single-walled and double-walled nanotubes is that they stick together and tend to form agglomerates. It's very difficult to break those agglomerates up and to evenly distribute them,” says Bernhardt. “Nemo has conceived and developed a unique, very superior technology to achieve exactly this.” As a consequence, outstanding electrical conductivity is achieved with a relatively low quantity of nanotubes and other synergistic ingredients introduced into the polymer matrix in masterbatch form.
The low dosage requirement of the Nemo process brings additional advantages in applications that require electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding and conductivity. For one, the CNT solution is cost-competitive compared with traditional methods of obtaining conductivity and, in particular, shielding, such as carbon black and metal fibers or foil. The low level of CNT also means there is scope to add other active ingredients to the compound formulation, such as flame retardants, which would not be possible if a high amount of carbon black is already present.
Further, the low dosage of CNT introduces the possibility of coloration for containers and trays used to transport electronic devices. Today, such containers are typically made conductive using carbon black, and then color-coded via painting for lamination with foils, which adversely affects their recyclability. Containers that use metal fibers to realize conductivity are also difficult to recycle and are typically incinerated. The sustainable monomaterial solution achievable with Nemo's nanomaterials can be processed on standard injection molding machines, added Bernhardt.
About the Author(s)
Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and a proud dachshund owner.
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