Interface Polymers Ltd. (Loughborough, UK), a two-year-old company spun off from the University of Warwick to develop and commercialize its new Polarfin block copolymer additive range, is expanding its R&D team to meet demand for the technology.
When added in small percentages to polyolefin materials such as polyethylene or polypropylene, Polarfin’s molecules migrate to the surface, making these materials more attractive to other polar materials such as metals, ceramics and other plastics, including those containing acrylic, styrene and vinyl acetate-based polymers.
|Dr. Christopher Kay (right), founder of Interface Polymers, is pictured with two colleagues in the Interface Polymers R&D lab.|
Polyolefins’ value-add often is limited by issues such as compatibility, adhesion and quality. Because the additive becomes an actual part of the material, the need for surface treatment to bind together two dissimilar polymers or a polymer and another material is eliminated, thus reducing costs. For example, with the addition of Polarfin, untreated LDPE and Mylar (PET) films can adhere with each other and form a stronger bond than is achievable using conventional methods. Polarfin also makes plastics easier to print on in packaging applications that use direct printing.
According to the company, its Polarfin additive technology can be easily incorporated into a polymer formulation and used with existing polymer conversion processes with little, if any, change to production equipment. It works by modifying the surface chemistry of polyolefin-based materials to enable interfacial bonding or other desirable surface properties such as anti-fog performance.