PITTSFIELD, MASS. (May 19, 1 p.m. EDT) — Don't even think of mentioning a reduced NPE presence to John Krenicki or any of his staff at GE Plastics (Booths S2015, S2215).
“We're going to have a big presence at NPE,” Krenicki, GE Plastics president and chief executive officer, said at the firm's pre-NPE press event April 9-10 in Pittsfield. “We're spending a lot of money and we're not pulling out. Our leadership position is very important to us.”
At 27,500 feet, GE Plastics' exhibit space is the largest of the show's material suppliers. The Pittsfield-based company, a unit of General Electric Co., plans to fill the vast space with a bevy of new materials and technologies.
“We'll launch more new products at NPE than we have in the past three years combined,” said Krenicki, a 19-year GE veteran who assumed the top spot at the firm in January. “There are a lot of challenges in the current environment, but we're focused on application development.”
Most additions to GE's stable of engineering resins for NPE 2003 are part of its Xtreme group. Most of the Xtreme resins — indicated by an “X” in their product names — were commercialized in early 2003 or will be commercialized by the end of the year. These new offerings include:
* Lexan EXC and SLX, two new grades of GE's Lexan-brand polycarbonate. The EXC grade offers improved tolerance, more design freedom and cycle-time reduction of as much as 40 percent in items ranging from cell phones to sports helmets to medical connectors, the company claims. SLX is an injection molding grade that combines the color stability of acrylic with the impact resistance of PC. It's expected to find a home in applications where ultraviolet-light stability is a warranty issue, according to global Lexan product manager Richard Crosby. Crosby added that GE also is working to develop a Lexan grade for limited-play DVDs, which would erase their content after 36 hours. The resin then would change color to indicate that the material had been erased.
* Noryl ETX, a thermoset-based grade of GE's Noryl-brand polyphenylene oxide. The ETX grade is being developed in a partnership with thermoset compounder Bulk Molding Composites Inc. of West Chicago, Ill. Noryl General Manager Paul Hirt described ETX as “a high-end thermoset” that is finding applications where customers want improved ductility and better electrical properties in auto parts such as under-the-hood valve covers, engine covers and oil pans.
* Ultem ATX, a glass-filled grade of GE's Ultem-brand polyetherimide. ATX offers comparable performance to polyphenylene sulfide in electrical components and connectors, the company said. Two other new Ultem grades featuring extreme heat resistance, high flow and improved optics also will make their debuts. Ultem also will be used in a Toyota vehicle for the first time in June, when the resin appears in a headlamp reflector on the Sienna minivan. Toyota chose Ultem because of the material's recyclability and cost and weight savings, according to Tim Rash, general manager for GE's high-performance polymers.
* Styrenic resins will be focusing on new products offering improved flame-retardant properties and high-heat resistance. First among those will be new grades of Cytra, an ABS/PC/polybutylene terephthalate aimed at low-gloss auto interiors. One grade of Cytra is being sampled in cup holders and trim parts, while two others are in development, according to styrenics resins General Manager Joe Bleull. Geloy XTW is another new styrenic resin, a new grade of GE's Geloy-brand acrylic styrene acrylonitrile. Bleull described XTW as “a complete game-changer” that could quadruple the size of the extruded styrenics market by being used as a capstock on PVC siding. The material offers two to three times the weatherability of previous versions and boasts a life cycle of seven to 10 years. XTW “can open up many colors of vinyl siding and window profiles,” Bleull said. “You won't have to stick with light colors because of warping.” GE has worked extensively with sheet maker Spartech Corp. to develop the applications, as well as uses in spas, pool steps, garage doors and boats, Bleull added.
* A PET-based grade of GE's line of Valox resins, which had been based on PBT. The 20 percent glass-filled Valox is being used in lamp sockets made by Phillips NV and could end up in other lighting uses as well as in railway cable, auto parts and furniture, said Tim O'Brien, crystalline resin general manager.
* Several new color effects for GE's entire resin lineup. Those include raven — which global aesthetics leader Andrew Day describes as “a rich, glossy piano-key black” — as well as earthtone-accented grades like dark sparkle and dark marble, the “rich, warm metallic” ferrite and alpine, a “bold, crystalline white.”
GE has increased the number of effects if offers from 10-24 in the past three years as customers have sought out more ways to differentiate their products, Day said.