Dow Chemical Co., Arkema Inc. and DuPont Co. are working to make inroads into the still-growing market for thermoplastic elastomers.
Researchers from those firms provided updates on their work in the TPE arena at TPE Topcon, an event hosted by the Society of Plastics Engineers, Sept. 18-19 in Akron.
Dow's Infuse-brand olefinic block copolymer can be combined with high density polyethylene or polypropylene to provide performance better than that of styrenic block copolymers, according to Dow researcher Mahalia Soediono.
Infuse can offer similar or better mechanical properties, better compression set at room temperature and shorter injection-molding cycle times, Soediono said. She described infuse as ``an excellent alternative to SBCs to make TPE compounds.''
Earlier, this year, Midland, Mich.-based Dow announced plans to build a world-scale plant for Infuse production in Freeport, Texas. The firm already produces Affinity-brand polyolefin plastomers and Engage-brand polyolefin elastomers in Freeport.
Infuse materials are used to make flexible molded goods, profile extruded goods, elastic fibers and films, coated fabrics, hoses and tubes, foams, adhesives and tapes.
At Arkema - the Philadelphia-based unit of French specialty chemicals firm Arkema Group - new grades of Pebax-brand polyether block amide copolymer have been developed and will be in focus at the upcoming K 2007 trade show in Dusseldorf, Germany, according to development engineer Sean Arsenault.
The new grades of Pebax - based on various nylon grades and polyether - include an ultrasoft product for use in running shoes, ski boot bindings and other sports-related applications. The new grades are resistant to extreme cold and are less sensitive to moisture than thermoplastic polyurethanes when used in injection molding, Arsenault said. The materials also offer excellent processability and are easily decorated, he added.
New and existing grades also can be used in breathable films for surgical gowns, roofing films and agricultural films used in fruit preservation. Three antistatic grades of Pebax also are available, and a grade based on renewable resources also is in development, according to Arsenault.
Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont is highlighting compatibility with regrind as a feature of its thermoplastic vulcanizate product. The material can be used with regrind materials with no change in flow or properties, senior technology consultant Dan Saunders said.
As a replacement for thermoset rubber, DuPont's product - named engineering thermoplastic vulcanizate - can improve performance and cycle times while reducing costs, Saunders said.
Applications for the product include automotive ducts and hoses, seals, and body plugs.