How Trinseo is ‘rethinking innovation’ at K 2019 and beyond

An overarching theme at this year’s K show in Düsseldorf, Germany, is sustainability. That was underscored at the press preview event this summer, which PlasticsToday covered at the time, and it has been reinforced by a tsunami of press releases that have flooded my inbox over the past couple of months. One company that is uniquely positioned to take on the mantle of sustainability is materials supplier Trinseo (Berwyn, PA). PlasticsToday spoke with Francesca Reverberi, Global Business Director, Performance Plastics, who explained how sustainability and other developments at Trinseo illustrate “Rethinking Innovation,” which is the theme of the company’s presence at this year’s K.

High-lubricity material from Trinseo used in injection pens
A new high-lubricity product platform from Trinseo is suited for applications such as injection pens and other drug-delivery devices where low friction is needed to prevent abrasion, thereby extending product life and minimizing noise from surfaces rubbing against each other. 

“Rethinking Innovation” is supported by three pillars, explained Reverberi: A focus on future trends, enabling innovation with the company's products and sustainability. The latter strikes a particular chord with Reverberi and the company she represents.

“Sustainability is in our DNA,” Reverberi told PlasticsToday during a recent phone interview. She went on to enumerate the many ways that Trinseo lives and breathes that ethos through industry leadership, the manufacture of sustainable products and a culture of collaboration with customers.

In terms of industry leadership, “Trinseo is a founding member of the Styrenics Circular Solution, a joint industry initiative dedicated to polystyrene circularity,” said Reverberi. The company also participates in Operation Clean Sweep, she added, which is focused on reducing flake, pellet and powder losses in industry. Because responsible environmental stewardship takes, if not a village, at least the people within your orbit, Trinseo has “organized awareness sessions with employees and contractors in all our plants to encourage technological improvements and decrease spills,” she said. A prime example is Trinseo’s polystyrene plant in Tessenderlo, Belgium, which “runs on 100% green energy and generates 25% of its own electricity,” said Reverberi.

The other two pillars are best illustrated by trends in mobility—lightweighting and the demand for eco-friendly vehicles with aesthetic appeal and integrated technology—and medical products—the shift to home-care devices for an aging population. “Our customers will design around these trends, and we want to help them achieve success in doing so,” said Reverberi.

In March of this year, Trinseo launched its long-glass-fiber-reinforced acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS LGF) alloy, which is suitable for interior and exterior automotive applications. The material enables high dimensional stability and high stiffness, making it the lightweight alternative for semi-structural components, said Trinseo. As a structural polymer, the ABS LGF composite offers not only lower weight than magnesium or aluminum, but also low VOC and low odor properties, and enables faster production cycle times. “The compounds can reduce weight by 25% compared with metals and have been commercialized in the BMW 3 series,” added Reverberi.

Francesca Reverberi, Global Business Director, Performance Plastics, at Trinseo.

In the medical realm, an aging population will require products designed for use in the home, including wearables and self-administered drug-delivery treatments, said Reverberi. “Trinseo supports its customers with rigid and soft-touch plastics and overmolding solutions that enable user-friendly, aesthetically appealing devices and equipment with high performance properties,” she explained.

Reverberi also shared information on a new product platform in its Calibre polycarbonate resins family that Trinseo is introducing to the medical device market. “This series of materials features improved lubricity and wear properties provided by a range of lubricants, additives and other reinforcements, including polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), silicone, glass filler and color pigments,” said Reverberi. The materials and additives are designed to be flexible and customizable to suit the specific needs of customers. “They are ideal for applications such as surgical instruments, drug-delivery devices, triggers and gears, where plastic parts are required to move over other surfaces and low friction is needed to prevent abrasion and/or the force required to activate the device needs to be predictable and consistent,” she said.

In addition to enhancing the user experience, these materials extend product life, minimize noise produced by surfaces rubbing against each other, and help to control cost by eliminating the need for an external lubricant, according to Trinseo.

Find out more about this and other innovations by visiting the Trinseo booth, E 57–60, in hall 6.

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