New polypropylene technology will share the spotlight. Expect to see a family of high-purity, radiation-resistant PP and a new functionalized polyolefin designed to compatibilize blends of dissimilar polymers.
In styrenics, look for a new crop of advanced HIPS materials that boast unprecedented combinations of toughness, gloss, and moldability. A new impact-modified EPS for premium cushion packaging will also be shown.
In polyester packaging resins, the news will include PETG grades for new applications like shrink film. For PET beer bottles, a new barrier coating and nylon nanocomposite barrier resins are also being unveiled.
Other news includes a new microcellular PVC material for injection molding and extrusion that is said to outperform traditional PVC, and a developmental family of PVC/polyolefin alloys that have better properties than flexible PVC.
Flood of new PEs for film
What looks to be the first metallocene-catalyzed HDPE in the U.S. is being launched by Phillips Chemical. Marlex mPact D449 is a 1-MI, 0.942-g/cc film resin. It is said to combine the stiffness and barrier properties of HDPE with the clarity of mLLDPE.
Although few details are available so far, Equistar Chemicals plans to introduce several new PE grades, including a bimodal HDPE for injection molding that reportedly has excellent stiffness and ESCR balance. Also still under wraps is what is described as a new class of HMW-HDPE film resins that offer significant downgauging potential. There will also be a high-stiffness, high-clarity LLDPE that is said to offer excellent optics, especially in coextrusions. An extrusion-laminating LDPE that is said to offer improved processability will also debut.
Huntsman is highlighting its year-old Rexell family of "enhanced" octene LLDPE. The emphasis will be on new, very low-density grades. Rexell V8403 (1 MI, 0.914 g/cc) and V8401 (3 MI, 0.902 g/cc) are said to have superior properties for food packaging and medical applications requiring toughness, sealability, clarity, low gels, and excellent organoleptics.
Also new is Rexell H3108, a 0.960-g/cc, MMW-HDPE film grade designed for cereal liners and baked goods. It boasts excellent OTR, MVTR, and excellent bubble stability, as well as anti-wrinkling properties and improved clarity.
Eastman Chemical will be showing off its new hexene LLDPE film-resin families made with the BP gas-phase process and Eastman's Energx catalysts. These include the newest family of Hifor Xtreme resins (MI of 0.5-0.85, density of 0.917-0.926). Eastman says initial runs yielded dart impact properties superior to competitive materials--even when the Hifor Xtreme film was 25% thinner. Potential uses range from high-performance food packaging and hygienic films to industrial packaging, merchandise bags, and agricultural films.
Eastman is also launching two new Eastacoat LLDPE resins for extrusion coating. Grades M30036-P (5.5 MI, 0.922 g/cc) and M30026-P (2.4 MI, 0.918 g/cc) are said to offer better ESCR, tensile strength, and tear resistance than LDPE coating resins.
A preview of Advanced Sclairtech octene LLDPE will be given by Nova Chemicals, whose new plant is scheduled for start-up around show time. In the next 18 months, an entire product slate will be launched, including 10 blown- and cast-film resins with 0.5 to 4 MI and densities of 0.905 to 0.936.
PPs target sheet & blends
On the polypropylene side, Montell plans to unveil Interloy, a functionalized polyolefin that will be marketed to compounders as a compatibilizer for blends of dissimilar polymers.
Huntsman plans to showcase a new line of PPs for sheet and thermoforming that reportedly offers some of the brightest white products available. New enhanced-clarity resins will be another focus, as will be high-purity, radiation-resistant medical grades such as the new 14R50V, a high-flow impact-resistant grade.
PS gets tough and glossy
Dow Plastics aims to show just how glossy and tough polystyrene can be. A second North American grade has been added to its year-old Styron A-Tech family of advanced HIPS, and two more grades should emerge by showtime. The first grade, A-Tech 1110, reportedly offers a unique combination of high gloss and high impact, plus good moldability. New A-Tech 1115 is similar but adds improved gloss retention after thermoforming. It is intended for use as a cap layer in extruded sheet for refrigerator liners. The resin is FDA compliant, delivers Gardner gloss up to 92%, and provides notched Izod impact of 4.2 ft-lb/in. and Gardner impact greater than 320-in.-lb.
Dow plans to come out with four or five more grades by the end of this year, tailored for packaging, consumer electronics, and large appliances. One of the first to be ready for market is aimed at disposable packaging such as form/fill/seal yogurt cups. Despite a slight cost premium, it will go head to head against workhorse HIPS by offering an improved balance of stiffness, toughness, gloss, and flow, as well as an opportunity for downgauging. The second new grade will be an ignition-resistant resin for tv cabinets. It reportedly provides higher flow than existing HIPS while retaining toughness.
Two grades of a tough, transparent styrene-butadiene block copolymer similar to Phillip's K-Resin are being introduced by Calsak Corp. Produced by Denka in Japan, Clearen 530L can be injection molded under the same conditions as PS for uses such as cosmetic overcaps, stationary products, and toys. Clearen 730L is for extruded shrink film and transparent sheet, blow molded bottles, and injection molded IC carriers. It can be blended with PS to create customized grades.
Huntsman Corp. will highlight new R-Mer II rubber-enhanced EPS bead for premium cushion packaging. It is said to offer improved multiple-impact protection properties for high-value items like computers, electronics, and medical supplies.
PETG stretches markets
Eastman Chemical is introducing PETG to the shrink-film market, particularly for label applications, under the Embrace trade name. It boasts high clarity, low haze, and excellent gloss. As a result of its high shrink force and greater than 70% ultimate shrinkage, the material is said to work with highly contoured packages. For instance, full-body labels are being used to market products ranging from milk and iced tea to beer and shampoo. Other applications include wine cap seals.
Two exhibitors hope to give PET bottles some extra help in the barrier department in order to pave the way for huge market expansions into single-serve containers for beer, juices, and carbonated soft drinks. Eastman will highlight its new Imperm nylon nanocomposite barrier resins for multi-layer PET bottles. DuPont Polyester has a new proprietary external coating that has 30 times better barrier than PET.
Not forgetting PV. . .
At this NPE, there will even be a bit of news in vinyls. Meramec Group is introducing a new PVC material for injection molding and extrusion of microcellular foam shoe soles and insoles, office-furniture parts, and pipe insulation. Called Microtech, it comes in formulations that range in final density from 0.35 to 0.75 g/cc and in Shore A hardness from 50-60 to 80-90. It is said to offer better performance than traditional PVC while weighing less, and it can even replace flexible polyurethane in some applications.
Teknor Apex Co., will present a developmental family of PVC alloys with polyolefin rubber that boast lower brittle points and greater thermal stability than standard flexible PVC, along with improved electrical resistance and gas barrier.
What to look for
- First metallocene HDPE in North America.
- New class of HMW-HDPE permits downgauging films.
- Functionalized polyolefin compatibilizes polymer blends.
- Advanced HIPS combines high impact, high gloss, good moldability.
- PETG copolyester designed for shrink film.
- Nylon nanocomposite barrier for multi-layer PET bottles.