Eastman Launches Cellulose-Based Engineering Bioplastic at Chinaplas 2017

Based 50% on cellulose that is derived from sustainably managed forests, the material reportedly compares favorably to PC, ABS and PC/ABS blends.

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At a pre-show media event, Burt Capel, VP and General Manager Specialty Plastics for Eastman Chemical Co., Kingsport, Tenn. introduced Treva, a cellulose-based polymer that company believes differentiates itself from other bioplastics in its properties and how it’s sourced.

Calling the material an engineering bioplastic, Capel said Treva is a cellulose-based material which is half sourced from sustainably managed forests, versus, for example, bioplastics that are based from food sources.

Capel said the material exhibits improved dimensional stability over existing bioplastics, as well as strong chemical resistance to many agents, including skin oils, sunscreen and cleaners, making it well suited for high-durability items that come in contact with the skin. In addition, low birefringence eliminates the rainbow effect some plastics experience with polarized light, giving the material some potential advantage in electronic device screens and retail displays.

Eastman examined the material’s chemical resistance in a 24-hour test, pitting it against acrylic, PC, PC/ABS and neat ABS, with Treva fairing the best. Eastman also boasted about the material’s processing ease, noting that in a .75-mm spiral-flow test, it performed better than PC and PC/ABS, while being comparable to ABS. The company also ran a hot runner test against acrylic, PC, ABS and PC/ABS, utilizing a valve-gated nozzle with a small pin gate, and once again Treva exhibited high flow.

In terms of appearance, Eastman said Treva results in parts with high gloss and clarity, as well as a “warm” touch and feel. The material takes color well, allowing for high pigment saturation. Given its properties, Eastman sees applications in eyeglass frames, wearable electronics, headphones, and any other number of items that require durability and come in contact with the skin. It is also suitable for housings, cases and other applications with high levels of design intricacies. 

Initial grades will be suitable for injection molding and extrusion. Company officials noted that at this time the percent of biobased contribution to the resin is capped at 50%, based on the chemistry and existing feedstocks. Despite that, the company believes Treva checks a lot of OEM’s boxes, particularly when compared to other bioplastics.

“Your typical bioplastic doesn’t have good color; isn’t very tough, and doesn’t have chemical resistance,” said Randy Beavers, regional business director, Asia Pacific and global sales director at Eastman Chemical (China) Co., Ltd. “From an engineering bioplastic material, it really is a serious entrée into that market.”

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