DuPont Engineering Polymers has taken another step toward metal replacement with its MetaFuse line of nanometal/polymer hybrids.
Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont launched the product at K 2007 in Dusseldorf. It's being made and commercialized in partnership with nanotechnology provider Integran Technologies Inc. and two Integran joint ventures - Morph Technologies Inc. of Toronto and PowerMetal Technolgies Inc. of Carlsbad, Calif. Integran has offices in Toronto and Pittsburgh.
The technology used in MetaFuse applies ultrahigh-strength nanometal to parts made of DuPont engineering resins. The resulting parts are lightweight but have the stiffness of aluminum, magnesium or even stronger materials, officials said.
To date, parts have been made applying the nanometal coating to DuPont nylon, acetal and copolyester resins, DuPont high performance solutions business development manager Clive Roberston said in an interview at K 2007.
``This technology allows you to get the complexity of a molded plastic part and put metal where you need it,'' he said. ``The nanometal is stronger than normal steel and has high weight bearing.
``You're not limited to simple metal casting uses. You can get a bit more complex.''
The technology produces metals with grain size 1,000 times smaller than those of conventional metals, officials said. Potential applications for the material include cell phone housings and golf club shafts. The material also is being considered for a number of automotive and defense applications.
MetaFuse materials currently are available in six commercial grades - four based on nylon 6/6 and two based on HTN-brand specialty nylon. The products are compounded at a DuPont site in Parkersburg, W.Va.
DuPont Engineering Polymers is a unit of DuPont Co., which ranks as one of the world's largest plastics and chemicals firms.
Earlier this year, the unit announced plans to spend another $200 million on new manufacturing plants and research equipment between 2008 and 2010, matching the amount the engineering resins leader spent from 2005-07.
The $200 million investment will be used as capital for plant operations, marketing labs and technology labs, officials said.
In 2006, DuPont's Performance Materials business - including DuPont Engineering Polymers - recorded sales of almost $6.9 billion, making it the largest of the firm's five units.
The sales mark was about 2 percent higher than its 2005 mark and represented almost 24 percent of DuPont's total sales. The Performance Materials unit's pretax profit of $627 million was up almost 17 percent from 2005.