PolyOne Corp. expanded its nanotechnology line this month by launching commercial production of Maxxam LST-brand compounds in Dyersburg, Tenn.
The compounds are based on polypropylene and incorporate nanoclay technology. They are being aimed at applications ranging from automotive to household appliances to consumer goods, market development manager George Zollos said in a March 3 interview at PolyOne headquarters in Avon Lake.
The acronym LST stands for light, stiff and tough, and describes the attributes that the new product can bring, Zollos said.
``What makes [Maxxam LST] unique is its properties,'' he added. ``It has the physical properties of engineering thermoplastics and the processability of polyolefins.''
The material is expected to compete with polycarbonate, ABS, acetal and similar resins. In injection molding, Maxxam LST offers better cycle times than PC and acetal, and times comparable with PC/ABS blends, PolyOne officials said. The material also can be molded on injection presses with clamping forces as low as 125 tons, which is half the pressure required for some engineering materials.
One grade of Maxxam LST is in commercial production, and two more are planned by the end of the year. If the material proves successful, production could be added at PolyOne sites in Ohio in 2005, Zollos said. The materials are expected to sell for $1.50-$2.50 per pound. A flame-retardant grade of Maxxam LST also is being developed.
In automotive, Maxxam LST's aesthetics and impact resistance will allow it to compete with thermoplastic olefins in exterior panels. Typical appliance/consumer uses include coffee makers, blenders and dishwashers.
Zollos added that improvements PolyOne has made in the exfoliation of nanoclays within the compound will allow Maxxam LST to succeed where other nanotechnology-based products have stalled.
``If you don't exfoliate properly, the finished product won't have enough stiffness and that can be a problem'' he said. ``We'll bring the material out to someone who's tried other [nanotechnology] materials and they roll their eyes,'' Zollos said.
Maxxam LST also can reduce or eliminate the need for glass-fiber loadings, while also offering good recyclability and paintability, officials said. PolyOne's supplier of nanoclays is Nanocor Inc., which helped develop the Maxxam LST line.
PolyOne first entered the nanotechnology world in mid-2003 when it introduced its Nanoblend-brand plastic concentrates. Ten grades of Nanoblend now are available. The materials, based on polyethylene and PP, also are made in Dyersburg.