Materials & Additives at NPE: Performance, Processability, And Sustainability
Packaging, medical devices, and automotive are the main market focuses of new materials and additives on view at this year’s show. Across the board, the theme of sustainability is evident in the large crop of biobased and recycle-containing materials, along with additives designed to enhance them.
BIOPLASTICS IN THE LIMELIGHT
Biobased products will take center stage at the show, ranging from novel blends of biopolymers to high-impact, heat-resistant PLAs and other new bioplastics, such as biodegradable resins from new sources and “biocomposites” made with novel organic fibers and novel bioplasticizers.
NatureWorks will highlight a new family of biopolymer blends made byits new AmberWorks joint venture with BioAmber, a maker of biobased chemical intermediates. Targeted initially at foodservice ware, these new blends add flexibility, toughness, and heat resistance to PLA.
RTP Co. will feature its expanded line of PLA compounds, which now include impact-modified grades designed for injection molded and extruded semi-durable and durable applications. These compounds reportedly achieve notched Izod impact performance as high as 30 times that of neat PLA, making them comparable to PC/ABS. When fortified with high-performance nucleators, they raise the HDT up to 50% higher (in °F), comparable to ABS, HIPS, and acrylic.
Teknor Apex will also feature recent additions of injection molding and extrusion grades of high-impact, high-heat PLA compounds to its Terraloy line. Also highlighted will be compostable blown film compounds—blends of thermoplastic starch and biodegradable copolyester; and PLA-based masterbatches that enhance the processing and end-use performance of PLA, increasing impact and melt strengths and serving as a release agent.
Purac will present its newly commercial, heat-resistant PLA homopolymers—PLLA and PDLA (left- and right-handed stereoisomers). Purac says its technology offers the possibility to increase the heat resistance of PLA to 80-150 C.
Kureha America USA is highlighting its newly commercial PGA biodegradable barrier polymer that allows users to tailor the desired degradability of their products.
FKuR Plastics Corp. will present a broad variety of new formulations of biodegradable, biobased, and natural-fiber reinforced compounds for injection molding and film extrusion. Among them are new Terralene PE compounds based on Braskem’s “Green PE” derived from sugarcane.
China’s Zhejiang Hangzhou Xinfu Pharmaceutical will feature compostable and biodegradable PBSA and PBAT bioplastics.
Chemtrusion will feature biobased additive concentrates, compounds, and alloys.
RheTech Inc. will feature the latest expansion of its product line of biocomposites, which now include compounds made with agave fiber and coconut fiber. Agave fiber is very strong and reportedly enhances the aesthetic appeal of products. Coconut fiber is said to provide high stiffness and surface hardness. It reportedly is well suited to auto interior trim, where it can replace talc-filled PP.
BIOPLASTICIZERS EMERGE COMMERCIALLY
Teknor Apex will unveil its new BioVinyl flexible PVC compounds that incorporate Dow Ecolibrium biobased, phthalate-free plasticizers, manufactured by the Dow Electrical and Telecommunications unit of Dow Chemical (dow.com/electrical). Teknor is aiming the new compounds at the broad range of applications of standard flexible vinyl, including consumer and industrial products, automotive components, certain medical devices, and certain wire and cable uses. BioVinyl compounds boast physical properties comparable to standard vinyl but have a 60% renewable content.
More new bioplasticizer developments are to be unveiled by PolyOne Corp. PolyOne and Archer Daniels Midland have a series of new bioplasticizer technologies in development. An initial commercial offering, reFlex100, will be launched at the show. It’s described as a high-solvating plasticizer that has excellent potential to partially or totally replace butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) or other high-solvating plasticizers across a range of applications. It’s already available in commercial quantities.
LOADS OF NEW TPEs
New Wet Grip technology for Thermolast W compounds from Kraiburg TPE, and the new Monprene Wet Grip TPE series from Teknor Apex, both are said to retain a non-slip surface and secure grip even when wet.
Also featured by Kraiburg are new OBC (olefin block copolymer) blends that boast outstanding mechanical performance together with enhanced flow and oil and chemical resistance, plus improved adhesion to engineering thermoplastics such as glass-filled nylon.
Kraiburg’s new Polar Alloy TPE blends will be highlighted for their silky, non-stick, smooth surfaces, as well as increased abrasion resistance, minimal creep, and ease of coloring versus silicone and TPV blends. Significantly higher overmolding bond strength is also claimed.
Alliance Polymers & Services (APS) will highlight several new TPEs. Among them are the latest in the Maxelast family of SEBS-based TPEs from Polymax: Maxelast C Series of ultra clear TPEs for products ranging from soft-gel shoe insoles to health and sports equipment; extrudable D series for cost-effective replacement of vulcanized rubber and EPDM; and Maxelast D extrudable film series for gloves.
APS will also feature the latest in BASF’s Elastollan TPU line: New Elastollan 785 A 10 HPM series for flat cables, formulated for hybrid and electric vehicles; and Elastollan Series AC85A for car handles and other auto interior parts requiring durability.
Star Thermoplastic Alloys & Rubbers (starthermoplastics.com) will present its StarPrene family of TPEs as comparable but lower-cost alternatives to TPVs. Also new are StarClear transparent TPEs, a new line of TPEs for pet toys, and the expanded line of StarFlex overmolding TPE grades.
New ether- and ester-based, 30% glass-filled TPUs from COIM of Italy boast increased strength and rigidity for demanding industrial components.
MORE NEW MATERIALS
Asahi Kasei Plastics North America, Inc. will highlight several new resin technologies with a focus on eco-friendliness. Included are Xyron PV modified PPE grades for solar panel components, which meet UL and IEC requirements with non-halogenated flame retardants. One grade achieves UL 94-5VA at 2 mm thickness. There’s also the Tenax Z-Series of low-emission acetals, said to exceed the most stringent global automotive VOC-emissions standards.
Other new developments from Asahi Kasei are Leona LG nylon 66 and 66/6L with long-glass fiber for applications that require superior fatigue and creep resistance. Some have modulus greater than 20 GPa (2.9 Mpsi) with good surface finish. Others are FR grades with excellent impact strength.
Asahi Kasei also has four new PP offerings, including Thermylene P9 short-glass reinforced PP with higher temperature resistance for nylon replacement in auto intake manifolds and other under-hood components. Thermylene P8 glass-reinforced PP with advanced coupling technology can replace long-glass PP in door modules, motor housings, sunroof frames, and shifter bases. Thermylene PR compound has post-consumer recycle content. And Thermylene P4 FR-PP does not contain decabromodiphenyl oxide and is offered unfilled or with glass, talc, or other mineral filler.
PolyOne will highlight new trends in appliance design. For a sought-after metallic look, the company’s new Geon FX Metal vinyl compounds eliminate the need for paint. At NPE, PolyOne will also unveil a new technology for in-mold decorating that produces a mono-material auto console that is easily recyclable.
Other materials news at the show:
•ATC Plastics will bring new flexible PVC compounds.
•LTL Color Compounders has new non-halogenated, UL-listed engineering compounds.
•Sonderhoff USA has added silicones to its line of PUR foam-in-place gasketing and potting materials for automotive.
•Polymera USA will highlight new wood-plastic composites for injection molding, extrusion, and compression molding with varying wood-fiber loadings in HDPE, PP, and PVC.
•Omni Resource Recovery, Inc. will introduce post-consumer or post-industrial recycled content in its Repro pellets of LDPE, LLDPE, HDPE, MDPE, and PP.
•AGC Chemicals Americas will have new adhesive ETFE products for automotive applications.
•Shuman Plastics will launch Dyna-Purge E2, described as a unique integrated polymer system for purging high-temperature engineering resins such as polyetherimide, polysulfone, and PPA. This is a mechanical, non-abrasive purging compound.
As with materials, expect to see new additives and colorants that provide more eco-friendly and cost-effective alternatives to standard industry workhorse products.
ColorMatrix, now a PolyOne company, will highlight the latest in its HyGuard oxygen-barrier technology for PET packaging. It offers full recycling capability, high-performance product protection, and controllable shelf-life management. HyGuard now has FDA approval for use in standard food and beverage containers, including hot-fill applications.
Also new from ColorMatrix is Excelite liquid foaming agent for PVC sheet, which is said to deliver more uniform cell structure and smoother surface finish.
Struktol Co. of America will highlight its new refined, organic V-Wax E and V-Wax OP lubricants as drop-in “natural” replacements for comparable montan wax-based products in calendered PVC sheet and other thermoplastics.
Plastics Color Corp. will launch the FlamSol FR line of decabromo-free FR additive masterbatches for PP applications ranging from electrical conduit and switch boxes to shelving and pallets.
In colorants, Day-Glo Color Corp. has new GloPrill GPF fluorescents, which are FDA compliant in HDPE and PP. In addition, its GemTone GC highly transparent, FDA-approved colorants for PP now have expanded use conditions—from freezer to microwave.
Americhem will showcase its new iCon engineered color concentrates for plastics and synthetic fibers. More highly concentrated than traditional colorants, iCon boasts a unique composition that delivers improved lot-to-lot consistency and increased productivity.
New antimicrobial offerings will be emphasized by Lonza’s Materials Protection Business. With its recent acquisition of Arch Chemicals, Lonza now offers an expanded portfolio, including zinc omadine antimicrobials—Vanquish 100 and SL10. They inhibit growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria in a wide array of plastic applications, from flexible PVC shower curtains and SBR bathmats to carpeting and foam bedding products.
Americhem will also highlight its new nShield antimicrobial masterbatches for inhibiting odor-causing bacteria in plastics and fabrics. They are said to be highly effective at low levels against a wider range of microorganisms.
In fillers, 3M will feature its new iM17K Glass Bubbles, an injection molding grade for PP that is said to provide outstanding strength, light weight, greater dimensional stability, and improved throughput.
AkzoNobel Expancel also will unveil new polymeric microspheres that feature higher temperature resistance.
A new process aid for PBT and PC/PBT blends will be featured by Axel Plastics Research Laboratories. MoldWiz INT-35PHT reportedly allows more flexibility in filler types and loading levels, as well as easier flow and release performance.
Adell Plastics will launch a line of maleic anhydride- modified polyolefins for use as compatibilizers in polymer compounding. Initial offerings include EK-10-MAH modified PP for coupling of glass and other fillers, and KK-10-MAH modified HDPE for coupling of glass, wood pulp, and other fillers.
Wacker Chemical will have a new pelletized silicone gum for addition to most thermoplastics as a long-term, non-migratory slip agent that can increase equipment life, improve part surfaces, and enhance scratch and mar resistance.
Hyperion Catalysis will feature a new masterbatch based on its Fibril carbon nanotubes, formulated to provide static dissipation, improved tear strength, and other mechanical properties to high-performance fluoroelastomers.
Industry workhorse modifiers and additive masterbatches will be featured by two companies from India. Qualichem Specialties has a broad line of antioxidants, including DSTDP, DLTDP, and DSPDP (equivalent to Chemtura’s Weston 618). Rajiv Plastics Ltd. will feature low-cost additive masterbatches, including antimicrobials, rodent-repellents, degradables, and special-effect colorants
Oil prices are the reason. The effect could be less collection of recycled plastics.
Many food and beverage companies are either using or thinking about using recycled materials in their packaging.
Instead of going to landfills, previously unusable mixed waste like auto shredder residue is yielding a new trove of inexpensive engineering resins for car parts. Sortation technologies derived from the mining industry can pull out usable ABS, PC, acrylic, PP, TPO, and PPO alloys.