NPE2018 yielded lots of news in materials and additives. While most of it was reported in our April, May, and June issues, there’s still more to report. New developments in engineering resins and customized TPEs reflect trends toward electric and autonomous vehicles. Other new materials include bioplastics, polyolefin film materials for packaging, and novel PVC formulations. There are also new additives ranging from unique functional additives for barrier to a novel conductive additive.
A RANGE OF ENGINEERED PLASTICS
A new series of PC compounds for structural components was unveiled by SABIC. Thermocomp HMD-D comprises six grades of glass-reinforced PC said to deliver a unique combination of stiffness and ductility to enable lighter, thinner, stronger parts. Metal-replacement applications range from smartphone cases to medical-device housings and mass-transit interior panels.
Ascend Performance Materials, discussed new nylon 66 copolymers for films in food (e,g., meat and bones) and industrial packaging (e.g., aircraft parts) that are said to combine clarity and better puncture resistance than nylons 6 and 66. They are also being explored as the inside layer of 3-5 layer HDPE resin pellet bags for improved strength that would allow downgauging.
New nylons were also highlighted by Lanxess, adding to several others on which we have previously reported. A key focus was on a new heat-stabilization system, XTS2 (Xtreme Temperature Stabilization) for nylon 66. This system is reportedly able to withstand long-term temperatures of up to 446 F (230 C), providing an alternative to more costly high-heat specialty thermoplastics like fully or semi-aromatic nylons or PPS.
The first grade from the STS2 range is Durethan AKV35XTS2 with 35% glass, which boasts considerably better long-term heat aging than nylon 66 with a standard copper-based stabilizer. The new nylon boasts enhanced flow, which improves surface quality and filling of complex geometries and thin walls. It is designed for auto engine applications that are exposed to unusually high temperatures, such as air-intake manifolds with integrated charge-air coolers or air pipes located near the turbocharger.
Radici Group also has developed glass-reinforced nylon 66 grades for automotive that can withstand temperatures up to 410 F (210 C). To support increasing demand for electric vehicles, Radici has developed flame-retardant blends of nylons 6 and 66 for recharge sockets and battery housings and cell covers.
Also aimed at new mobility options are new thermoplastics from SABIC. Among them is a new high-heat, high-energy-density dielectric material, Ultem UTF120 PEI film, in 5-10 micron thicknesses. It is used to produce lightweight auxiliary capacitors that can help offset the weight of battery packs in electric vehicles. Another example is new Noryl NHP5054, an enhanced flame-retardant, glass-filled PPE that achieves a UL 94V-0 rating at 0.75 mm for structural components like battery-pack housing assemblies.
SABIC also showcased what it calls a major breakthrough in production of infrared optical sensor lenses for proximity sensing and gesture recognition in smartphones, video-game controllers, and drones, using its Extem thermoplastic polyimide (TPI). It sports high thermal dimensional stability with a Tg of 512 F (267 C). Other similar resins are either not melt processable or cannot be injection molded. High-volume micromolding of Extem is said to deliver numerous advantages over grinding and polishing of quartz glass and curing of epoxy resin—speed, consistently high quality, and avoidance of costly secondary operations. SABIC showed lenses made of Extem TPI overmolded with nylon 12.
MORE CUSTOMIZED TPES
An extended family of nylon-based TPEs, also known as polyether-block-amides (PEBA), was showcased by Nylon Corp. of America (NYCOA). With lower specific gravity than TPUs, they are aimed at applications in automotive, sporting goods, personal electronics, composites, and specialty films, the Ny-Flex elastomer range is available in hardnesses from 82 Shore D to 90 A. They are said to exhibit excellent flexibility at low temperature, superior retention of properties at elevated temperature, and exceptional toughness and resilience. High creep resistance, strong resistance to flex fatigue, good abrasion resistance, and superior resistance to grease, oils, and solvents are also claimed.
Lubrizol Corp. showcased new products such as Estane TPU for 3D printing and Pearlthane Eco TPU, with up to 46% biobased-content, lower density, and improved low-temperature flexibility for highly flexible films or soft-touch injection molded parts. Also new is Estane VSN self-healing TPU, with unique ability to heal minor scratches in consumer products such as high-end eyewear; and Estane ALR TPU for paint protection and graphics wraps on commercial trucks. Compatible with adhesives and topcoats, it is invisible and boasts self-healing and both impact and weather resistance.
Working with Electrolux and another OEM, NatureWorks showcased newly developed refrigerator liners based on PLA to compete with existing HIPS structures. Now in field testing, one approach involves coextruding sheets with an acrylic core and an outside layer of Ingeo PLA, which are then thermoformed. Both layers are impact modified Processability and other key performance properties of the new liners appear to be very similar to HIPS and can also replace ABS liners; and they run on existing equipment with some processing modification. Ingeo’s resistance to food oils is equivalent to ABS. Cost is expected to be competitive but with opportunities to downgauge further due to Ingeo’s higher stiffness.
Another approach being explored entails an all-extruded amorphous Ingeo PLA, which turns semicrystalline when thermoformed. Both approaches are patent pending. New entrant Total Corbion PLA unveiled a novel technology that can create fully stereocomplex PLA—a material with long, regularly interlocking polymer chains that confer higher heat resistance than typical PLA in a broad range of industrial applications, automotive underhood components, aerospace, marine, and appliances. The proprietary technology reportedly enables PLA applications that withstand temperatures close to 392 F (200 C). The company is offering samples of glass-reinforced stereocomplex PLA for testing.
A. Schulman launched Eco-Flex RTPV, a recycled TPV compound also containing BASF’s Ecoflex biodegradable aliphatic copolyester. Schulman is aiming these compounds to replace vulcanized rubber in lawn & garden tires, mud flaps, brake pads and grips for powertools, where they offer easy processability, lower cost, and recycled content.
OTHER MATERIALS NEWS
Also discussed by Schulman was a developmental combination of polyolefin and barrier resins that is being field tested by film extruders to see if it can help reduce the number of layers or eliminate tie layers.
Polybatch BAR is said to offer a balanced moisture and oxygen barrier for applications such as food packaging (e.g., liquid pouches, dry goods, fresh produce, perishable foods); agricultural films that allow processors to “dial in” the degree of permeability; and dry powders, chemicals and fertilizers.
ExxonMobil Chemical added a grade to its Exceed XP film resins based on advanced catalyst technology and process research. New XP 8784 offers improved processability plus extreme film toughness and sealing properties for high-performance coextrusion films used in laminated sacks, freezer films, barrier packaging and sachets.
PolyOne’s Geon PVC business has developed metallic-appearance PVC for appliance consoles and is also focused on new applications including LED lighting in which the body, lens, and other components are 100% PVC and cost half as much as metal. Extrudable and injection moldable compounds for LEDs are targeted for indoor and landscape lighting.
Americhem discussed its new ValuPak EPVC—an enhanced PVC for decking capstocks with durability that exceeds currently used PVC and HDPE. This fully stabilized PVC compound utilizes new weatherable chemistry that boasts outstanding performance in extreme conditions. It also has an excellent price point compared with ASA or ASA blends, Americhem says.
NEWS IN ADDITIVES
A new family of high-performing lubricants and dispersing agents based on non-food crude rice-bran wax was introduced to North America by Clariant Corp. Tested on automotive parts of PC, nylons and TPU, the new additives have been shown to offer improved mechanical properties and enhanced surface finish at efficient dosage levels compared with lubricants based on Montan wax. Another advantage is the absence of yellowing. Applications in E/E and building/construction are envisioned.
Baerlocher USA highlighted its next-generation Baeropol RST proprietary heat-stabilizer technology for use with recycled materials. Based on metallic stearates, Baeropol 6812 boasts improved properties in post-consumer polyolefins, including better melt stability, hydrolytic stability, polymer color, and antioxidant solubility. Moreover, it can be used as a 1:1 direct replacement for most secondary phosphite antioxidants.
A. Schulman highlighted its new Polybatch EasyPour functional additive masterbatches, available in most polyolefin carriers and PET, which reportedly improve dispensing of liquids from standup pouches and other packaging designs. They are aimed primarily at institutional and industrial food applications.
Huber Engineered Materials discussed its new Martoxid line of conductive additives based on aluminum oxide and targeted for new mobility trends such as electrification, where it reportedly can outperform other aluminum oxides and other conductive fillers. According to Huber experts, the new Martoxid has been enhanced via control of particle-size distribution and morphology to offer improved packing and density, along with unique surface treatment. It reportedly can be used at filler loadings over 60% without compromising mechanical or rheological properties. It has shown excellent potential for use in PP, TPO, nylons 6 and 66, ABS, PC and LSRs, as well as thermosets.
Heritage Plastics demonstrated its Minaflex highly-filled calcium carbonate concentrate that has been shown to produce paper-like substrates via blown film. Addivant showed a new version of Naugard liquid phosphite antioxidant for applications in foamed TPU and TPO.
Developments in materials have helped pave the way for processors to make ‘real world’ parts from what is collectively known as 3D printing. Here’s a comprehensive review of the materials available.
Newly available cast sheet and thermoforming grades of Mirel biobased polymers open up a new range of applications in containers and other formed parts where renewable content and biodegradability are desired.
Composite RR ties could finally be on their way to becoming the next big thing in plastic lumber. They are attracting interest from makers of marine pilings, another category of structural wood replacements.