Strong Growth for High-Sliding Polyacetal Grades for Gears, Bearings

Polyplastics says its Duracon noise-reduction grades are getting a lot of play at the same time that DuPont seems ready to back away from its engineering thermoplastics.

Strong global demand is reported for high-sliding grades of Duracon polyxymethylene (POM)/acetal resin, which are based on a reportedly leading-edge noise reduction technology developed by Polyplastics (U.S. office in Farmington Hills, Mich.). These materials are specially designed for plastic gears and bearings to be used in audio visual equipment, office automation systems, home appliances and automotive components.

Polyplastics notes that among the crystallized resins, due to its superior strength and stiffness in a temperature range of 60 C to 80 C (140 F to 176 F), which is typical for office automation and automotive applications, acetal is now used in the majority of gear applications instead of resins such as nylon and PBT.

According to the company, its Duracon POM holds about a 60% share of the Japanese POM resin market, and roughly 30% of the global market. (BASF and Korea’s Kolon are making their own push with a new 50:50 joint venture).The noise reduction grades account for approximately 6% of the total sales volume of Duracon POM.

The company’s high-sliding Duracon POM grades line include NW-02, an all-purpose material with both advantages of PE-alloy type and non-alloy type grades. It is the highest selling among the high-sliding grades suitable for various conditions and applications and used in many industries including office automation and automotive.

Meanwhile, SW-01 is an alloy type grade that is suitable for high-pressure sliding conditions. It has been proven in the automotive sector for such components as bearings and cams whose requirements can’t be filled by conventional noise reduction grades. Grade LW-02 is a non-alloy type grade which was recently developed to meet the more stringent requirements of office automation (OA) component and equipment manufacturers in the areas of wear, fatigue, and noise. This material is suitable of OA  gears whose mating materials are often unfilled resins such as ABS and HIPS. It is experiencing strong growth in the Japanese OS market. Finally, grade JW-03 is another non-alloy type grade that was developed for improved gear dimensional accuracy.

It should be noted that by all indications, there are likely to be more opportunities for POM/acetal producers like Polyplastics, Celanese and BASF to expand their global reach. This, as the Dow-dominated new company DowDuPont Materials Science Division, Midland, Mich., which just became a legal entity on Sept.1.

Veteran industry editor Doug Smock reported that the new entity is focused on three molecules: ethylene, propylene and silicone. DuPont Performance Plastic business’ key chemistries are nylons, polyacetals and PBT-type polyester. Like Smock reported on Sept. 1., “It will be interesting to see how well DuPont’s engineering and renewable plastics fit into the new DowDupont Materials Science Division …..scheduled to be spun out as a standalone company no later than March 2019.”