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February 1, 2005

4 Min Read
ETPs at K: Materials and more

Engineering thermoplastics (ETP) suppliers are emphasizing value addition through secondary processes and tailored grades.

Many engineering thermoplastics suppliers have long claimed to be solutions providers for processors and their customers. Initial indications from K 2004 (October in Düsseldorf) hint that these claims may now be starting to ring truer. At K, materials suppliers highlighted numerous primary process innovations, secondary processing technologies and applications, developed both independently or jointly with equipment suppliers, as well as grades dedicated to such processes as laser welding, lead-free circuit assemblies, water-assist, and molded interconnect devices (MIDs).

One example was a structural bonding technology from DuPont (Wilmington, DE) that employs a microporous tie-layer to bond dissimilar resins. The process can be applied in processes where the two surfaces to be bonded are brought together in the molten state, such as two-component molding or extrusion.

Keeping with surfaces, Smart Surface Technology (SST) was developed jointly by Bayer MaterialScience (Leverkusen) and Swiss firm Lumitec AG (Gais) to enable molding of surface-luminescent plastic parts without the need for bulbs or LEDs. SST entails screen-printing of an electroluminescence system onto Makrofol (PC) film or Bayfol (PC/PBT) film. Target applications include auto interiors and illuminated interiors for ladies'' handbags.

From the East, Ube Industries (Ube City, Japan) highlighted its laser-weldable gas pipe system jointly developed with Rex Industries Co. (Osaka, Japan) that employs its Ubesta PA 12 resin. The system boasts many advantages over traditional processes such as electrofusion and solvent welding. Ube is working with other PA 12 suppliers to develop ISO standards for gas distribution pipes, which could take one to three years. The supplier notes that superior burst pressures compared with PE pipes bring advantages as much smaller pipes can be used.

Keeping with the value addition theme, DSM Engineering Plastics (Heerlen, Netherlands) unveiled what it called a revolutionary additive technology for laser marking on plastics. Dubbed Micabs, the technology relies on formulation of well-defined laser-active particles in the polymer matrix. Color change with laser exposure occurs within the particle so that consistent marking is realized irrespective of the polymer. Current methods employ lasers to carbonize the plastic itself.

In other decoration developments, Inclosia Solutions, a business unit of Dow Chemical, based in Midland, MI, announced the launch of wood and EXO metal options for its EXO overmolding process for enclosures.

"This is not just a ''looks-like wood or metal'' appearance for your phone or laptop-EXO wood and EXO metal actually incorporate these materials into the molded device housing," comments Tony Frencham, global business director for Dow.

To date, Inclosia has outsourced production for EXO-based parts to a custom molder, but it now plans to fully license the process. It has signed up one global processor and is also working with three others.

While secondary processes hogged the limelight at K, there were also some significant developments in polymers and compounds. Solvay Advanced Polymers (Alpharetta, GA), for example, unveiled a new type of transparent high-temperature polysulfone, Supradel HTS, with the highest glass transition temperature of any fully thermoplastic resin: 255ºC. The material targets metal replacement applications in areas such as aerospace and automotive.

For its part, BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany) used nanotechnology to significantly improve flowability in a new Ultradur PBT grade; in fact, viscosity is around 50% lower in a 30% glass fiber-reinforced grade. The grade enables a 20% reduction in cycle time.

Stephen Moore [email protected]RESINS/COMPOUNDSPolypropylene vies for more subzero markets

An easy-to-fill multicavity mold grade of clarified polypropylene, Borpact SG930MO, offers good transparency yet provides low-temperature impact strength to withstand deep freezer temperatures. This high-impact random copolymer targets ice cream and frozen dessert packaging. It combines product protection with increased marketing emphasis through the display of products by its good transparency. Quick multicavity mold filling in thicknesses as low as .6 mm, good form stability, and easy demolding help the polymer achieve a 16% reduced cycle time advantage over competitive grades. It also shows a 15% reduction in injection pressure due to better flow. Tensile modulus is 850 MPa and the material''s MFR is rated at 25 g/10 min. Borealis A/S, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark; +45 45 966000; www.borealisgroup.com

Transparent compound targets injection molding, extrusion

Completing its product range of natural compounds, this manufacturer is now marketing Biograde 200C, a transparent, biodegradable granulate suited for blown film and injection molding applications. It can also be processed on conventional cast sheet lines without screw, die, or downstream equipment alterations. It has high stiffness and good transparency, allowing it to be thermoformed into cups and trays on equipment traditionally used for polystyrene. The resin is produced from 100% renewable resources. FKuR Kunststoff GmbH, Willich, Germany; +49 2154 925126; www.fkur.de

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