The first of a new family of liquid thermoplastics for in-situ reactive polymerization have been introduced by Arkema (U.S. office in King of Prussia, Pa.). Elium resins boast quick polymerization in processes used for thermoset composites, such as room-temperature infusion, RTM, and flex molding. They can be used for structural parts and aesthetic elements in automotive, transportation, windpower, sports, and building/construction applications.
These novel resins are based on a high-molecular-weight acrylic polymer whose polymerization is initiated by a special new grade of Arkema’s Luperox organic peroxide, according to product manager Sebastien Taillemite. Elium composite parts are 30-50% lighter than steel and offer mechanical properties comparable to epoxy, but with much higher toughness and no need for post-curing. Such parts reportedly cost less to manufacture than other thermoplastic composite technologies due to easy impregnation of reinforcements, room-temperature processing, and no need for fabricated intermediate products like organosheets. Elium resins have a range of reactivity for cure times ranging from 20 min to a few hours at room temperature or a few minutes at elevated temperature.
Says Taillemite, “The technology allows us to obtain a thermoplastic polymer that is recyclable, weldable, and thermoformable at 200-220 C (392-428 F).” Arkema collaborated with Belgian fiberglass producer 3B to develop a specific glass sizing that enhances adhesion to Elium.