Since the global supply of Ultem PEI (polyetherimide) resin from SABIC has tightened in the last few months, molders and OEMs have had to manage risks such as long lead times and supply disruptions. RTP Company, for one, is aiming to address the issue by offering a number of thermoplastic compounds that serve as viable alternatives. In fact, the company is hosting a webinar this Thursday, Dec. 11 at 10 a.m. CST to discuss these options and will make available a recorded version after the live session.
A SABIC spokesman, says the company anticipates the extended lead times to last until the second half of 2015, as a result of a significant increase in global demand for Ultem over the last years coupled with an upcoming scheduled maintenance at one of its Ultem resin facilities. “We are very sensitive to the impact this situation is having on our customers. We are honoring all previously submitted orders and are working with great urgency to increase capacity. The scheduled maintenance, while affecting supply in the short term, will allow for increased capacity in the future. We are confident that the actions we’re taking at SABIC will enable us to meet the needs of our customers longer term, and continue to deliver the unique value they have come to expect from our Ultem resin.”
This spokesman noted that across the engineering resins industry, the demand for higher heat materials is growing. Key drivers include trends such as thinner and more complex consumer electronics, uniquely branded automotive headlamps, and lightweighting within the aerospace industry. He notes that some customers have realized unforeseen double-digit growth, and that engineering resin suppliers are working hard to meet the short- and long-term volume needs of their customers.
RTP, meanwhile, is offering alternative compounds that include amorphous materials based on polysulfone or semicrystalline materials that have been modified, alloyed, and/or reinforced to achieve very similar physical properties to PEI, according to Matt Torosian, RTP’s product manager of high-temperature materials. “RTP has created a range of compounds with similar characteristics to PEI that are not depended on a single supplier of base resin. By doing so, our customers have benefited from a larger selection of material options, greater design flexibility, and far fewer interruptions in material supply.”
PEI is known for its excellent dimensional stability, chemical resistance, strength, stiffness, inherent flame retardancy and creep resistance. As such, selecting a replacement requires a thorough understanding of the application requirements. According to Torosian, once these requirements have been identified, RTP engineers can recommend compounds that fit the requirements, along with added benefits such as color. To support transition to a new material, the company provides on-site technical service and CAE support including mold-flow analysis, FEA and fiber orientation analysis. For more details, take a look at RTP’s website page entitled PEI Alternatives.
Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastic Technology’s Plaspec Global materials data base.