Dow Chemical Co. plans to alter the polystyrene landscape with its new Styron A-Tech high-impact PS.
Dow, the global and North American PS market leader, claims Styron A-Tech balances such properties as toughness, gloss, stiffness and flow in combinations previously not available in PS.
``We're breaking out of the dilemma of trading one property for another,'' Jeff Denton, PS global market manager, said in a May 18 telephone news conference.
Midland, Mich.-based Dow is aiming Styron A-Tech at appliances, consumer electronics, toys and packaging. Kathleen Bader, PS vice president, said the material eventually could replace 35-40 percent of Dow's existing HIPS applications and challenge ABS in some low-end uses.
Dow officials pointed out that Styron A-Tech is different from its Questra-brand syndiotactic PS, which is made using Dow's Insite metallocene catalysts. The Styron A-Tech method can be used on any Dow PS line worldwide.
Styron A-Tech has been produced in commercial quantities at Dow plants in Midland; Barry, Wales; and Tsing Yi, Hong Kong, since early 1999. The material also has been tested and approved by several European appliance makers that plan to use it in refrigerators and other products.
The first Styron A-Tech grades will be available commercially in Europe next month and will be introduced later this year in North America, the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America.
The material will command higher prices than standard HIPS, but Dow officials said they will let the market dictate what the premium will be. PS prices remain relatively depressed because of industry overcapacity.
The development of Styron A-Tech was a three-year process that represents ``a breakthrough in impact modification'' for PS, said Gary Krook, director of PS global research and development.
Bader added that the development proves there's new life in a material Dow's been producing for 61 years.