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Dow additive keeps PC from scratching

By: Roger Renstrom

January 31, 2012

MIDLAND, MICH. (Jan. 31,  2:15 p.m. ET) — Dow Chemical Co. plans to introduce an anti-scratch additive for compounding with polycarbonate to compete with ultraviolet-light-cured PC hard coatings.

“The solution eliminates a hard coating and cuts the cost by half to obtain a hardened PC,” Arthur Chiu, global marketing and asset director for Dow’s plastics additives business, said in a recent telephone interview.

While PC has “great intrinsic properties [including] temperature resistance, toughness and even clarity,” Chui noted, it has poor scratch resistance and needs a hard coating — usually an acrylic monomer — to maintain its glossy appearance.

After learning that some customers didn’t like hard coatings, Dow set about developing a solution, by working on a proprietary basis with numerous electronics and automotive customers. Dow intends to unveil the anti-scratch additive technology during Reed Exhibitions Ltd.’s Plastic Japan show, April 11-13 in Tokyo, and Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd.’s Chinaplas show, April 18-21 in Shanghai.

Dow plans to commercialize the product, probably during the second half of 2012. Multiple Dow locations will manufacture the additive.

Potential applications for additive-enhanced PC include electronic-device housings and touch screens, automotive components such as knobs and dashboards, and eyeglass optics.

In the past, the Dow’s plastics additives business focused mostly on PVC applications. Over the decades, resin additives have helped make PVC tough, colorfast and processable, according to Chiu.

“We do sell some existing products into electronics and automotive where PVC is not used,” Chiu said. “In the last year or two, we in plastics additives have renewed our focus on markets including the electronics materials business.”

In addition to PVC and soon PC, Dow’s plastics additives business supplies packaging, building and construction and engineering materials for compounding with polyester, other engineering thermoplastics, their alloys and polylactic acid.

Midland, Mich.-based Dow declined to identify or discuss competitors, but industry players in various aspects of supplying or manufacturing hard coatings include Advanced Polymer Solutions LLC of Port Washington, N.Y.; Bayer MaterialScience AG of Leverkusen, Germany; Cytec Industries Inc. of Woodland Park, N.J.; Evonik Industries AG of Essen, Germany; Mitsui Chemicals Inc. of Tokyo; Momentive Performance Materials Inc. of Wilton, Conn.; Plaskolite Inc. of Columbus, Ohio; and Tekra Corp. of New Berlin, Wis.

See other stories in the Plastics in Electronics Special Report:

Ever-dwindling demand for  PCs offset somewhat by small devices

Cell phone makers look to Asia for sales

Bayer unit puts EAP muscle into touch-feely iPod app