The plastics nanotechnology market continues to grow, with Standridge Color Corp. and RTP Co. developing new grades of nanocomposite-enhanced compounds in recent months.
Social Circle, Ga.-based Standridge has completed production-scale runs of nanocompounds based on nylon and acetal. In a news release, Hal Wells, vice president of sales and marketing, said the firm is ``very encouraged'' by test runs performed at the plant.
``The fact that we can use our existing pigment dispersion technology and get excellent dispersion and exfoliation is quite promising,'' Wells added.
The new acetal materials use functionalized carbon nanotubes, while the nylon materials use nanoclays. Both additives can make materials stronger, lighter and less expensive, Standridge officials said.
Improvements include barrier properties, electrical properties and reduced shrinkage. Potential target markets include auto parts, fabrics, fibers and packaging.
Standridge, which posted 2006 sales of $200 million, also runs plants in Dalton and Greensboro, Ga.; Newton, Kan.; and Defiance, Ohio.
The firm will begin production in July at a plant in Suzhou, China, its first outside of the U.S.
Sales manager Robby Farmer said equipment recently was delivered at the 35,000-square-foot Suzhou site.
Color concentrates made at the plant will be used for nonwoven applications, such as baby diapers, surgical masks and other disposable medical products.
Winona, Minn.-based RTP has expanded its range of carbon nanotube compounds for several resins, including glycol-modified PET, polyetherimide and polyetheretherketone.
RTP officials described CNT compounds as ``a key element of [RTP's] conductive products'' that deliver superior electrical conductivity and eliminate residual voltage or ``hot spots.'' The materials offer wide processing latitude, they said.
RTP was an early adapter of nanotechnology. Its CNT compounds have been commercially available since 2000.
Now, the addition of new suppliers in nano-based plastics is lowering pricing levels and making the materials more attractive to processors, according to Larry Rupprecht, RTP's conductive materials development manager.
Rupprecht singled out electronics packaging as ``a solid growth area'' for the new materials, which currently are made at Winona. But production is expected to begin at plants in Singapore and France by year's end.
Meanwhile, RTP recently added a pair of production lines for long-fiber-reinforced thermoplastics at its plant in Suzhou.
RTP posted sales of about $250 million in 2006.