A student gets hot (and cold) with TPU

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Dakota Joseph/APS Elastomers Joseph

For Dakota Joseph, his five weeks at materials firm APS Elastomers was time well spent.

Joseph, a high school senior at Henry Ford Academy in Dearborn, Mich., was at Romulus, Mich.-based APS for the senior-year Practicum Experience that all Henry Ford students do. The work-based learning experience allows students to learn in an environment where they make valuable connections outside the classroom.

The goal of the project is to enable students to become self-initiating interns by developing their own study plan, choosing research projects that are interesting and challenging to them, outlining procedures and successfully implementing them. Students choose their research project based on career interest or personal passion relative to their future endeavors.

Joseph chose thermo-chromatic pigment for thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) as his project. He worked with APS Elastomers co-owners Stephane Morin and Roger Huarng and learned how to compound thermo-chromatic TPU and mold sample plaques. 

Thermo-chromatic pigment reacts to changes in temperature and can be overmolded onto TPU for applications where monitoring heat energy is beneficial or even crucial. As the temperature rises, the pigment loses its color, making it ideal for applications such as baby bottles, thermoses and coffee mugs to prevent scalding.

Dakota created a video demonstrating the results of the thermo-chromatic pigments reaction to hot and cold, which he will use as part of his presentation to teachers and students at Henry Ford Academy.

“I was immersed in many aspects of APS’s business (including) customer service, warehouse operations, thermoplastic elastomer compounding, product testing and analysis,” Joseph said in a news release. “But my favorite was working on the pigment for TPUs, molding plaques, and extrusion.”

Huarng added in the release that “mentoring students is part of (APS’s) social responsibility.” Working with Joseph “has been a rewarding experience for all of us at APS Elastomers,” Morin said.

Joseph's demonstration video.