Ferro Corp.'s Advanced Polymer Alloys Division has introduced a new thermoplastic rubber designed exclusively to overmold to rigid olefinic substrates.
Called DuraGrip, the new TPR will take aim at other firms' offerings in the thermoplastic vulcanizate family of materials. The product was unveiled at the ACS Rubber Division's Mini-Expo, held Oct. 8-10 in Pittsburgh.
APA worked with Ferro's Filled and Reinforced Plastics and Plastic Colorant divisions to find the right applications for the material and also to allow it to be customized with any color, said Jeff Senich, APA business development manager.
``We think it has a superior rubber feel, with very low modulus,'' he said. ``We will position it well on price and have the ability to customize it with the various resources at Ferro. All taken together, it will give us a competitive edge.''
By combining DuraGrip with rigid substrates like polypropylene and polyethylene, manufacturers can increase the value of products by adding an ergonomic soft grip, according to APA. The new material - produced at APA's plant in Carpentersville, Ill. - is available in durometers of 40, 50 and 60 with additional grades expected in the near future.
``Manufacturers continually search for new ways to reduce costs without compromising the integrity of the final product,'' said APA General Manager E. David Santoleri. ``At the same time, it adds value to the production process with its superior physical properties and excellent processing characteristics.''
APA is marketing DuraGrip to the automotive, recreation, tool and appliance, and consumer electronics industries. Specific products will include items for personal watercraft, washing machines, blenders and hair dryers, among others.
``We know we will be able to take some of this business,'' Senich said.
At this point, APA has supplied some key customers with the material and is waiting for feedback, he said. ``We have scaled up production, we have repeatability and the material is highly colorable,'' he said.
APA was co-founded in 1997 by Santoleri and APA technical director W. Robert Abell, along with several financial partners as a spinoff from DuPont. It focused on developing and marketing Alcryn, the world's only melt-processible rubber. The firm was sold to Ferro in 1999.
Senich, previously with TPV manufacturer Advanced Elastomer Systems LP, said DuraGrip is APA's first major product launch since Alcryn - but won't be its last.
``We will stick with high-value niches, and we're going to choose our battles,'' Senich said. ``It's all about being selective about where we spend our time in the marketplace. High value: That is how we're going to win without an army of people.''