GE Plastics and GLS Corp. have agreed to develop compatible material systems under a new Softfx brand name, they announced July 20 at the Industrial Designers Society of America conference in Monterey.
The firms aim to expand soft-feel options involving grades of GE Plastics' engineering thermoplastics as substrates and GLS' specialty elastomers as overmolded material. GE Polymerland Inc. of Huntersville, N.C., will be the exclusive distributor. Talks between GE Plastics of Pittsfield, Mass., and Arlington Heights, Ill.-based GLS began in mid-2001.
``We collaborated trying to determine if there was a fit,'' said Walter Ripple, marketing director with the GLS thermoplastic elastomers division in McHenry, Ill.
Initially, ``we will bring to the market products that GLS already makes and that we already make,'' said Andrew Day, global aesthetics manager with GE Plastics. ``We will qualify them as working sets and bring them to the market.'' Both Ripple and Day were interviewed at the Industrial Designers Society of America national conference, held July 20-23 in Monterey.
Existing products work together, but now GE and GLS chemists will share details. New materials may reach the market by the end of 2002, Ripple said. Target markets include portable electronics, telephones, power tools and small appliances.
The GE substrates include Lexan polycarbonate, Cycoloy PC/ABS blend, Cycolac ABS and Xenoy PC/polybutylene terephthalate. The GLS materials include Kraton thermoplastic rubber compounds, Dynaflex TPE compounds, Versaflex TPE alloys and Versalloy elastomer alloys.
The arrangement should shorten time-to-market cycles and avoid processors' usual experimentation to get an elastomer to stick to a substrate.
``All these designers want soft touch,'' Day said, ``but in achieving the soft-touch effect, they have lots of problems.'' Under the agreement, ``we take a process and make it less risky and shorter.''