DuPont will more than double capacity for its Zenite liquid crystal polymer to meet rapidly rising global demand. Chris Murphy, global business manager for the polymer, said designers in more industries are learning how to work with LCPs. New applications in markets other than electrical and electronic contribute to annual growth of 15-20 percent around the world, Murphy estimated in a telephone interview.
DuPont will expand Zenite capacity at Chattanooga, Tenn., in two stages. By the third quarter of 2001 the first phase will boost capacity by 50 percent to 12 million pounds. In 2002 another 6 million pounds will be available.
Murphy would not disclose cost of the program. He said it is capital intensive but Chattanooga's existing infrastructure, designed for expansion, will help mitigate costs.
Electronics are a big market for LCPs. Miniaturization trends mean designers want thinner-wall parts and LCPs can provide the required strength. High-temperature circuit board production spurs LCP use because they are heat resistant. LCPs are replacing some thermoplastics in these areas.
New applications include barrier films. LCPs are highly resistant to oxygen and moisture. They are replacing ceramics in lamp sockets because injection molded LCPs are more productive and offer design freedom.
DuPont also is expanding Zenite compounding capacity in Japan to support Asian markets. It will increase capacity by an undisclosed amount next year.
Murphy said Zenite is a broad family of LCPs, allowing designers to choose grades needing specific properties. The highest volume grades are those that provide high flow and short molding cycle times.