BFGoodrich Specialty Chemicals has added polypropylene to the mix in its line of static-dissipative polymers.
The Brecksville, Ohio, company's first foray into PP is an opaque, static-dissipative PP alloy aimed at semiconductor and medical-device packaging as well as electronic component-handling applications.
Company officials said the PP-based material provides permanent electrostatic-discharge protection without the risk of contaminants found in plastics that contain conductive fillers or chemical anti-static materials.
Previous polymers in BFG's Stat-Rite line were based on materials such as polyester, acrylic or BFG's own thermoplastic polyurethane line.
Officials said the move into PP was based on requests from customers and not from any potential savings caused by the price slump PP has seen this year.
Through August, PP prices have dropped an average of 7 cents per pound, mainly because of market overcapacity and a drastic reduction in the amount of material exported to Asia.
The move into PP was made possible through new BFG technology that dissipates static at a faster rate while generating less of an electric charge than previous materials, according to Stat-Rite marketing manager Neil Hardwick.
``We had dabbled in polypropylene, but we weren't really happy with the results,'' Hardwick said in a recent telephone interview. ``But the main step here is that we were able to change our inherently dissipative polymer with our new technology.''
Hardwick credited an expanded research and development staff at BFG's Brecksville research center with allowing the company to make more new products in a shorter time.
Stat-Rite PP alloy could replace stainless-steel-filled or unfilled PP in applications such as carriers for silicon wafers and shipping materials for pacemakers, Hardwick added.
Additional PP versions of Stat-Rite with different melt flows and cleanliness levels are being developed along with a polyethylene-based model that should be commercialized in mid-1999, Hardwick said.
He declined to reveal sales and capacity totals for the Stat-Rite line, but said sales are expected to grow 40 percent in 1998.
Stat-Rite materials, produced at a BFG site in Twinsburg, Ohio, are sensitive to charges as low as 10 volts.
BFG Specialty Chemicals also recently launched new TPU-based Stat-Rite products that meet flame-retardant guidelines for electronic clean room construction and for use in clean room tubing and wire jacketing.