CHICAGO (July 17, 2:20 p.m. EDT) — Specialty compounder RTP Co. of Winona, Minn., used NPE 2000 to announce advances in its inherently conducting polymer compounds and an expansion of its international presence.
Applications for the compounds include electronic packaging, circuit-board racks, bins for shipping electronic goods and explosive containment units, said Scott Koberna, RTP product manager for conductive polymers.
Research and development on the materials began in late 1999 and extends RTP work in conductive polymers going back to 1977.
"(RTP) is the first company in the world to commercially supply thermoplastic specialty compounds containing inherently conducting polymers," the firm said in a news release.
A European customer began using the polypropylene compounds for electronic packaging in June. Others are sampling the product, which also is available in polyethylene blends. RTP anticipates having the compounds available in the United States by October and elsewhere later.
The all-polymeric compounds maintain PP or PE mechanical properties with electrical conductivity and are priced between carbon-black and carbon-fiber blends, Koberna said. Colorable in six standard hues, the inherently conductive materials are available for injection molding, extrusion or blow molding.
Separately, RTP announced the availability of conductive nanotube compounds and a new family of static-dissipative compounds.
"RTP has been looking at nanotubes for 10 years," said Barry Nelson, product development engineer.
Each hollow carbon nanotube has a diameter thousands of times smaller than a carbon fiber, giving the nanotube compound a high length-to-diameter ratio and conductive properties at low loadings.
The compounds are suitable for wafer processing, computer disk-drive components and clean-room applications, but cost at least 50 percent more than carbon fiber.
An RTP automotive customer is evaluating nanotube compounds using crystalline polymers for fuel-related lines, connectors and canisters in a vehicle´s 2001-2002 model.
When blended with engineering resins, nanotube compounds lead to excellent surface finishes with potential for use in automotive body attachments such as mirror housings, door handles and wheel covers, according to the company. RTP began commercial production of nanotube compounds in late 1999.
Also new, RTP has developed a nylon 6 nanocomposite for film or sheet extrusion. A loading of 2-8 percent can show properties equivalent to or better than a mineral-filled compound with 20-30 percent loading.
RTP´s new static-dissipative compounds eliminate fragile surface coatings and blooming antistats and cut time for making chip trays, packaging products and consumer goods. The compounds are available in ABS, polystyrene and polyolefins.
In addition, RTP unveiled a line of advanced fiber compounds "that bridge the gap between short- and long-glass fiber compounds, said Robert Wick, product manager for structural materials.
"We have seen a need for products between chopped fiber and long fiber, and we can tailor the requirements and price."
RTP customizes the product and has received favorable feedback. Mack Plastics Corp. of Bristol, R.I., used RTP´s 50 percent glass-filled polyphthalamide advanced fiber compound for a heat-sink adapter in an electronic product. According to RTP, Mack found that the material performed better in thermal creep tests under load than competing short- and long-fiber PPA compounds with 50 percent glass.
At NPE, the firm showed color technology developments including a sparkle-mist effect in 20 colors, glow-in-the-dark colors and chameleonlike chroma-shift colors.
RTP opened sales offices in Merenberg, Germany, in April with Andreas Lücke and in Bury, England, in June with Colin Rooney.
In March, RTP formed a relationship with Ashland Chemical de Mexico SA de CV in Mexico City and will distribute through Ashland´s General Polymers Mexican operations in Monterrey, Guadalajara and Tijuana. Corporate parent Ashland Inc. is based in Covington, Ky.
Privately owned RTP employs about 800 and compounds materials in South Boston, Va.; Dayton, Nev.; Fort Worth, Texas; Indianapolis; and Beaune, France, in addition to Winona.