Plastics additives and fillers are evolving into better materials, but no revolutionary developments were unveiled at NPE 1997 held in Chicago June 16-20, said Larry Stover, the new director of technology for M.A. Hanna Engineered Materials of Norcross, Ga.
Stover said suppliers have enhanced their additives and this has been a boon to compounders and their customers.
``We depend on these guys to bring the technology to us so we compounders can do more.''
He cited improved ultraviolet light stabilizer offerings by all major manufacturers. New UV additives are more effective in improving plastic part surface appearance and physical properties for a range of polymers. Polypropylene, for example, is capturing more outdoor applications, including building materials, because today's UV protectants give it far better weatherability. New antioxidants also help plastics pass the test of time better as suppliers keep improving their phosphite products.
Stover received his new title in early July after working at Hanna for eight years. He formerly was industry manager and he replaces Robert Brinkman, who left the company.
In minerals, suppliers have worked out smaller particle sizes, more uniform particle size, better compatibility in polymers and, in some cases, have improved a mineral's color performance. Glass fiber producers have made their products more cost effective, Stover claimed.
Better dispersants, by acting as wetting agents during compounding, allow compounders to highly fill concentrates .
Compounders are becoming a bigger force in plastics markets as they fill specialty niches proliferating with new materials and applications. Stover said the large number of compounders that exhibited at NPE attests to their growth. They outnumbered additives suppliers, which mainly come out in force at technical shows.
Geoff Nesbitt, development engineer for Bay Resins of Millington, Md., said he was impressed with the size and number of concentrates suppliers' booths.
``I didn't see a lot of additive suppliers [at NPE], but there were a lot of compounders who offer the complete [additive] package,'' Nesbitt said in a telephone interview.