The K 2010 show will present new plastics materials for a wide range of industries, which makes it hard to generalize, but a few markets stand out prominently: packaging, medical, automotive, and electronic equipment. Common themes among the new entries are higher heat and chemical resistance, improved flow, and sustainability—such as renewably sourced raw materials or non-halogen flame retardancy.
THE NEW ‘ECO’ CROP
Among the latest materials joining the renewable, sustainable, and/or biobased trends are two new materials from DSM (dsmep.com). Arnitel Eco+ is a new copolyester TPE with 20% to 50% biobased content, depending on hardness (40 Shore D to 55D). DSM would not identify the renewable source but said it is not castor oil, which is used in several other polymers. These resins use the same hard block as standard Arnitel copolyester elastomer (COPE), and performance is said to be very similar. “This opens up a new technology platform,” said Francis Aussems, project manager for bio-polyesters. He added that grades with higher heat resistance are in development.
Also new from DSM is Akulon RC (recycled content), a series of post-industrial recycled nylon 6 grades for automotive under-hood applications. RC grades of Akulon Ultraflow will also be available.
Castor oil is the basis of Ultramid Balance nylon 610 from BASF (plasticsportal.com/usa), introduced at K 2007. Four reinforced grades (30% or 35% glass) now complement the original unreinforced material. All are aimed at automotive uses, due to their high heat, hydrolysis, chemical, and salt resistance, as well as superior dimensional stability. However, one grade is optimized for resistance to hot oil rather than hot water, suiting it to oil pans, oil filter housings, and radiator end caps.
Toray’s Resin Div. (toray.com) will showcase injection molded durable and semi-durable parts made of blends of Ingeo polylactic acid (PLA) biopolymer from NatureWorks (natureworksllc.com) and PC, ABS, or PMMA. Such products will include parts for Canon copiers, Pioneer Blue Ray disc players, and optical discs.
Novamont (novamont.com) will show off what it says is the first industrial cling film that is biodegradable, compostable, and made from renewable resources. Based on Novamont’s new second-generation Mater-Bi starch resin, which has higher biobased content than the first generation, the stretchy film can be used for foods, even those with high fat content or acidity.
Renewability is not the only angle on sustainability nowadays. Even non-halogen flame retardancy counts, because of perceived lower environmental impact. Among those sounding that theme is PolyOne (polyone.com), which developed new Edgetek AM non-halogen FR compounds based on high-temperature nylon. They reportedly can replace more costly LCP, PPS, and PEI materials while meeting UL, GWFI, and IEC tests. With melting points of 315 to 320 C/599-608 F, they reportedly provide HDTs up to 265 C/509 F (suitable for electronic assembly with lead-free reflow soldering) and long-term property retention at 140 C/284 F. They’re also designed for easy processing in thin-wall, multicavity tools.
Also new from PolyOne are new ECCOH low-smoke/fume, zero-halogen (LSFOH) grades for cables used in nuclear power plants. Based on polyolefins and mineral hydrates, they are said to meet all applicable codes.
BASF has new FR nylon and PBT grades that contain no halogen or red phosphorus, thereby meeting WEEE regulations for safe disposal and also providing easy colorability—light colors in particular. The first four products include Ultramid Free A3U40 G5 nylon 66, which meets IEC 60335-1 standards, including glow wire testing (GWIT) at 1 mm. Ultramid Free B3U31 G4 is a nylon 6 tailored to meet specs for circuit breakers at 1 mm with an “optimized price/performance ratio.” In PBT, new Ultradur Free B4440 G5 meets UL 94V-0 at 0.4 mm, suitable for lamp sockets, connectors, sensors, and electronic control-unit housings for cars. New Ultradur Free B4450 G5 boasts exceptional tracking resistance (600V CTI).
SABIC Innovative Plastics (sabic-ip.com) introduced non-halogen FR PC film for electronic components of notebook computers and other devices that must meet EU RoHS and WEEE 2006 specs. Lexan EFR film (clear or opaque) meets UL 94V-0 above 380 microns thickness and meets VTM-0 at 125 microns for translucent and 100 microns for opaque grades. It reportedly can replace FR-PP film in thinner gauges without reducing performance.
SABIC also cites sustainability for five recently introduced materials for aircraft interiors because they help aircraft save weight and thus fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. As reported last month (See Learn More box), these include Lexan XHR (extremely low heat-release) 6000 PC sheet (opaque) and Lexan F2000A transparent PC sheet. Three new pellet materials are clear Lexan FST copolymer for glass replacement; Ultem 9090 low-heat-release PEI with improved ductility, chemical resistance, and UV stability; and 40% carbon-fiber filled Ultem for exceptional stiffness plus greatly improved flow.
Mitsubishi Engineering Plastics (MEP America, m-ep.co.jp) has several new bromine-free Xantar PC and PC/ABS grades. (MEP acquired Xantar from DSM in June in a swap for MEP’s nylon 6 and 66 business.) New Xantar XRM (Xtra Robust Modified) is an impact-modified PC that meets UL 94V-0 and 5V ratings without bromine, phosphorus, or antimony. It combines heat resistance equivalent to normal PC with excellent impact strength down to -40 C/F. It is also said to beat the best PC/ABS in ESCR performance, UV weatherability, and hydrolytic and thermo-oxidative stability.
New bromine-free FR Xantar C MC 3435 is a low-outgassing PC/ABS for extruding cable channels and interior cladding for buses and trains. It meets European smoke and toxicity limits. For injection molding, there is new high-flow FR Xantar C MC 3433 PC/ABS and transparent FR Xantar C RX 2124 PC. Both are aimed at “smart meters” for electricity, gas, and water.
A new category of TPE is due to debut at K, one based on Topas COC (cyclic olefin copolymer) from Topas Advanced Polymers (topas.com). Few details were available, except that it will offer “exceptional purity” and be aimed at healthcare and overmolding.
PolyOne GLS Thermoplastic Elastomers (glscorp.com) claims to have licked a difficult challenge in developing TPEs that meet FDA and EU requirements for fatty food contact. Aimed at housewares, storage containers, and baby sippy cups, the new Versaflex grades include two for overmolding onto PP (50 and 60 Shore A) and two for overmolding on ABS and Eastman’s Tritan copolyester (65A and 80A).
Among new developments from Kraiburg TPE (kraiburg-tpe.com) is an addition to its Hipex line of high-performance TPVs based on ethylene vinyl acetate (EVM) rubber in a polar copolyester. This highly heat and oil-resistant series gains a new compound with higher tensile strength, flow, and surface properties.
In addition, the Thermolast M line of hydrogenated styrene block copolymers (HSBCs) for medical applications has a new MT series with exceptionally low coefficient of friction. It provides easy sliding over other plastic surfaces. Other Thermolast M developments include improved oxygen and moisture barrier for stoppers, closures, and tube shoulders; the new MT/HD line with significantly shorter cooling times for thick-wall parts; and an expanded range of hardnesses for bonding to PC and ABS.
Meanwhile, Kraiburg’s standard line of Thermolast K HSBCs includes new grades for “wet grip” applications.
BASF will display two TPU developments. Elastollan 785 A 10 HPM (85A hardness) withstands the higher temperatures needed for cable sheathing in electric and hybrid cars. It surpasses BASF’s Elastollan 11 series in both heat resistance and much lower compression set, while retaining similar mechanical properties. BASF is also developing Elastollan 754 D 15 HPM (53D) for thin core insulation
LSR ON A TEAR
Supporting the burgeoining popularity of injection molded liquid silicone rubber (LSR), Wacker Chemie (wacker.com) is bringing out a new series that features high tear strength (notch resistance) and also higher reactivity for shorter molding cycles than standard LSR. It is aimed at baby pacifiers, nipples, and teething rings, as well as thin-section automotive parts like membranes and valves. The Elastosil LR 3040 line (40A to 50A) is said to be a lower cost and faster curing alternative to Wacker’s high-tear-strength Elastosil LR 3043.
Another automotive development is Wacker’s new Elastosil LR 3092/65 fast-curing LSR with the high heat and low compression set needed for diesel-engine intercooler seals.
PUSHING THE LIMITS
Pursuing ever-higher heat resistance in engineering thermoplastics, BASF has come out with Ultramid Endure, a specially stabilized 66-based nylon for auto under-hood parts that reportedly combines outstanding resistance to heat aging with no sacrifice of processability. Glass-filled Ultramid Endure withstands continuous use at 220 C/428 F and spikes to 240 C/464 F. That’s well above previous nylon 66 and 66/6 grades. It also retains strength in fatigue tests at 220 C for 3000 hr, beating both nylon 66/6 and PPA.
DSM is pushing up the heat resistance of nylon 6 with its new Akulon Diablo, developed for automotive air/fuel systems requiring temperatures up to 210 C/410 F continuous-use and 230 C/446 F short-term. For even higher under-hood temperatures, DSM’s new Stanyl Diablo OCD2300 nylon 46 is said to be the first polyamide that withstands more than 3000 hr at 230 C while retaining at least half its original tensile strength.
High flow is another frontier of development. BASF has pursued this goal with its High Speed series of PBT and nylon 66 compounds. Completing the series is new Ultramid B High Speed nylon 6 with at least 50% greater spiral flow than conventional grades. This should speed cycles in molding large auto engine covers and intake manifolds and allow reduced injection pressure and clamp tonnage. Important for manifolds, weld joint strengths with the new resin are said to be comparable to standard nylon 6.
BASF is also increasing flow of its styrenics and styrenic/nylon alloys. New Terluran HH 102 high-heat ABS provides an unusual combination of high toughness and flowability, plus high gloss and very low blooming. Luran S 767 KE is a new weatherable ASA with improved flow and high gloss, optimized for extrusion of panels and profiles, including low-temperature coextrusion with PVC. Two new improved-flow Terblend N ABS/nylon blends are grades NM-21 EF and NG-02 EF for injection molding large auto interior parts. NG-02 EF contains glass for improved strength while retaining good toughness. And BASF has united flowability, toughness, and UV stability in its first ASA/nylon blend, Terblend N BX 13043, which has a matte surface without coating.
Rhodia Polyamide (rhodia.com) is pushing the envelope for nylons in two different directions with its K Show introductions. One is “Fuel’In by Technyl,” a new family of nylon 6 and 66 products for blow molding motorcycle fuel tanks, fuel filler pipes, and jerry cans. This new family includes existing blow molding grades of nylon 6 as well as two new nylon 6 grades reported in January (see Learn More). Fuel’In products are said to provide improved barrier and to be easily blow moldable on equipment for HDPE.
Rhodia is also aiming at “super-structural” thermoplastic composites with continuous glass or carbon fibers in a matrix of nylon 6 and 66. Rhodia claims improved composite properties by means of special fiber sizings and higher fluidity of the resin to achieve good fiber wetout without voids. Rhodia is offering the composites in the form of pre-impregnated fabrics or plates consolidated from fabrics. Rhodia is also developing a compression molding process in collaboration with a partner.
BASF is entering the field of long-fiber injection molding compounds with its new Ultramid Structure LF line. Prepared by thermoplastic pultrusion, these are nylon 6 or 66 with 40% to 60% glass, cut to pellet length of 12 mm (about 0.5 in.).
PBT has been very difficult to laser weld, but BASF says it has beaten that problem with its new Ultradur LUX. By modifying the resin morphology for a finer spherulite structure, BASF doubled its laser transparency, allowing faster welding, joining of thicker parts, and ability to use lower laser power, which extends the life of the laser. While standard PBT with a 1064-nm laser could be welded at only 5 to 12 mm/sec, Ultradur LUX can be welded at 10 to 70 nm/sec. It is available black or uncolored, with 20% or 30% glass. Other grades and colors are in development.
MEP will exhibit three new halogen-free FR grades of PC/ABS for laser direct structuring using LPKF additive technology (lpkf.com) for selective plating of metallic circuitry on plastic antenna carriers and molded interconnect devices (MIDs). The materials’ high impact strength is said to outperform competitive PC blends.
Ticona (ticona.com) will show off several new engineering compounds at K. Vectra TREX is said to be the first LCP for extrusion. It’s aimed at large thermoformable sheets for pans used in commercial kitchens and the food industry. They can go from the deep freeze to ovens at 280 C/536 F.
In acetals, Ticona has new high-impact Hostaform XT 20, intended to compete with impact-modified nylon 66. It joins three other recently launched, toughened grades—Hostaform S 9362, 9363, and 9364. All four boast up to 4X greater weld-line strength than other impact-modified acetals. They also have improved chemical and fuel resistance and lower sliding friction; S 9362 and S 9363 also mold faster.
Expanding applications potential for acetal is new blow moldable Hostaform BM 10; another blow molding grade with outstanding low-temperature properties is due by the end of the year.
New Hostaform HS (high-strength) is said to combine good properties of acetal homopolymers and copolymers. Grade HS 15 is the first of this new family, featuring high stiffness, outstanding notched impact, excellent weld-line strength, and good chemical resistance.
FOR PACKAGING & MEDICAL
Borealis (borealisgroup.com) is planning to launch a new generation of PP for thin-wall food packaging with higher stiffness, higher flow at lower melt temperatures, and faster cycles. Borealis also has two new grades for healthcare. Bormed SC820CF is a random PP copolymer for film that combines softness and toughness, steam sterlizeability, and transparency. It can replace PVC in I.V. bags and medical pouches. Haze of a 50-micron film is less than 2.5% after sterilization. And Bormed LE6609-PH is a clear LDPE with unusually high melting point. It’s for blow-fill-seal bottles and ampoules that require steam sterilization at above 110 C/230 F—something hard to achieve with PE, according to Borealis. It reportedly can allow 5% to 7% weight reduction and shorter autoclave times at higher temperatures.
In what’s said to be a new concept for shrink-sleeve films, BASF has come out with two grades of Styrolux SBC that can be blended in different proportions to achieve different properties. The goal is to be able to shrink label larger and more complex objects with thinner films. Styrolux T/S involves blending Styrolux T for toughness and stretchability with Styrolux S for stiffness and storage stability.