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TPE featured in prototype wearable electronics

By: Rhoda Miel

September 4, 2013

CHICAGO — PolyOne Corp. is setting up its GLS Thermoplastic Elastomers for growth in the consumer electronics market with a new blend designed to stand up to the wear and tear of highly-used products.

Versaflex CE, introduced in time for the Industrial Designers Society of America's annual conference in Chicago Aug. 22-24, bonds to polycarbonate and ABS blends used frequently on consumer electronics, and also resists scratches and chemicals such as sunscreen that frequently come in contact with phones, watches and music players.

"If you pay $800 for an device, you want it to still look good in six months time," said Charles Page, global marketing director for PolyOne GLS, in an interview at the conference.

Previous versions of the company's TPEs already are used on cell phone cases and other gadgets that are part of the electronics industry. With Versaflex CE, the company is looking forward to a range of "wearable" electronics that are expected to hit the marketplace in the coming months and years.

The "wearables" category includes a few items already on sale, such as fitness trackers, as well as the anticipated arrival of a mass market "smart watch" that would duplicate many of the capabilities of a smart phone, but in a smaller package that could fit on a watch band. PolyOne already has developed conceptual bands for a smart watch using Versaflex.

Because the new blend builds on TPE's that PolyOne already has on the market, it will be easier for molders and developers to bring new products on line, and adapt quickly to the development speed of the electronics industry, Page said.

New products have to be able to hit the market quickly to keep consumers' attention.

"Having something easy to process and drop right into the injection molding machine right away is very important," Page said.