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Electriplast plugs in

With interest piquing and products building towards commercial launch, Integral Technologies (Bellingham, WA), proprietors of the Electriplast conductive polymer technology (November 2004, May 2005 MPW), will announce a partnership with a compounding firm in the American Midwest in the coming weeks, which will produce hundreds of thousands of pounds of its material on an annual basis, moving past current lab samples to full-scale supply capabilities.

The as-yet unnamed partner is scheduled to launch production around the start of September, helping supply the roughly 50 companies Integral Chief Technology Officer Tom Aisenbrey currently estimates are molding with the material.

The proprietary technology uses doping agents to make polymers fully conductive for heat and electricity, while also imparting radio frequency capabilities for one-piece, molded, plastic antennas. Compounded with virtually any resin for a ready-to-use pellet, the materials differ from other conductive polymers in their ability to carry current and in that they don''t involve use of a conductive masterbatch.

"In the chemical reactor world," Aisenbrey says, "we can now mimic just about any metal on the planet electrically, including copper, silver, and palladium for plastics that move beyond semiconductors to superconductors of electricity."

"With Electriplast, I can run a-c current," he says. "You can plug it into the wall."

By using a pellet versus mixing in masterbatch, Aisenbrey says the conductive doping agents homogenize throughout the part, while disparate specific gravities of additives and resin in a mixing process can lead to clumps, swirls, hot spots, and structural veins of conductivity within the finished part.

With one customer requesting 100,000 lb/month, Aisenbrey says products using the material, which launched in 2004 and drew immediate attention from mainstream media, including Popular Science''s Best of What''s New, are coming to fruition, possibly by the fall. "There are a lot of prototypes that are being built right now," Aisenbrey says. "I''m seeing a lot of stuff that''s getting close to being a real product out there." Earlier this year, the company sold a license to Heatron Inc. (Leavenworth, KS) for a heating application.

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