A new manufacturing process to produce Ultem polyetherimide (PEI) resin will enable GE Plastics, Pittsfield, Mass., to launch new copolymers and blends that have even higher heat performance than standard Ultem. GE says the new materials will boast HDTs up to 300 C (570 F) vs. about 230 C (445 F) for current PEI grades. The new materials will be part of the Ultem family but will be offered under a different brand name. These amorphous resins will have processability comparable to existing Ultem-an advantage over other resins in the same heat-resistance range-as well as similar mechanical properties. They will be aimed at electrical, defense and telecommunications uses. GE will begin production at a domestic semi-works plant by December, and large scale production is expected in early 2008 at a new Ultem plant being built in Cartagena, Spain. In addition, GE has just launched Ultem DT (ductile transparent) blends of PEI and a polycarbonate copolymer. They boast three-fold greater ductility plus better colorability due to less yellowness. Two grades (standard and high flow) are available now, and UL94 V-0 and V-1 versions are expected soon. Meanwhile, in response to double-digit growth in PEI demand, GE recently increased capacity by 12% at Mt. Vernon, Ind., and the new Cartagena plant will add another 30% by 2008.
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