MIDLAND, MICH. — Dow Chemical Co. is launching a line of optical-grade polycarbonate resins designed for use in high-density data storage computer discs. T.J. Wainerdi, global market development manager for Dow's Optical Media PC resin, said digital information storage is an attractive new marketing area. DVD formats, formerly known as digital versatile discs, are scheduled to be on the market by Christmas, and could replace standard compact discs.
While Dow supplies products to a limited number of customers, Wainerdi said the firm will have commercial quantities of the new resins available by mid-1997. He spoke Nov. 12 in an interview at Dow's headquarters in Midland.
``We will be introducing this new polycarbonate resin for [DVD] formats in a targeted approach for customers who are leaders in high-density data storage,'' Wainerdi said.
Standard CDs can store 0.6 gigabytes of data on one side of a disc and use one 5-inch, 1.2-millimeter-thick PC disc as a substrate for a thin aluminum film pocked with data storage pits.
With DVD formats, two 5-inch, PC discs with thicknesses of 0.6mm are glued together. Sandwiched between those discs is a thin aluminum film pocked with smaller data storage pits than standard CDs. The thinness of the discs allows for two-sided reading of the aluminum film. DVD products can store 18 gigabytes of data — 30 times more than standard CDs.
Because of the increased capacity, DVDs can be used for videos and a wide variety of other information; however, the increased packaging of data puts greater demands on the substrate resins, Wainerdi said.
``This optical media is very sensitive to contamination. It requires higher purity, and higher quality,'' he said.
Dow installed capacity for the new resins when it expanded PC production last year, he said, but he would not discuss specifics.
To go along with the development of high-density data storage, Wainerdi said Dow is trying to develop a tougher resin for jewel boxes.
``We think the jewel box will continue to be a very viable package for CDs and DVDs. We need a tougher jewel box to protect the expensive data that will be stored on that format,'' he said.
Dow has an experimental polystyrene resin — tentatively labeled XU 70268 — that Wainerdi said will be available commercially by the second quarter of 1997.
Separately, Wainerdi said Dow has developed a PS line, aimed at television and computer monitor manufacturers. The line, called Styron 6077, is available now.
``The high growth for computer monitor markets is being tapped out, and television manufacturers now are being contracted to make computer monitors,'' he said. ``They need to match resins for a variety of colors, and this new resin gives them the ability to do that at the injection molding machine.''