Lubrizol Corp. and BASF Corp. are stretching the boundaries of their thermoplastic polyurethane products.
Wickliffe, Ohio-based Lubrizol has developed a highly elastic grade of its Estane-brand TPU with high marks in durability, abrasion resistance, wear resistance, low temperature flexibility and clarity, according to researcher Louis Brandeweide.
Brandeweide spoke at TPE Topcon, an industry event organized by the Society of Plastics Engineers, held Sept. 14-15 in Akron.
The new Estane grades modify TPU's hard-block/soft-block structure and eliminate the need for a plasticizer. They can be used in overmold grips, tool handles, seals and gaskets, cable jackets, fuel system components, wheel hubs and outer treads.
Soft, elastic TPU is a growing portfolio offering for us, Brandeweide said. It gives designers an unexpected combination of softness and durability.
Other potential applications for the new grades include sporting good components, sports shoes and auto grips and knobs.
At Florham Park, N.J.-based BASF, new grades of Elastollan-brand TPU have improved fuel resistance, which is a needed attribute in fuel conveyance hoses, quality assurance manager Mark Justice said at TPE Topcon.
To test the new Elastollan grades, BASF conducted a seven-week fuel immersion test involving two BASF grades and two competing grades of TPU. All four materials were exposed to a variety of fuels including standard fuels, as well as ethanol and biodiesel during the seven weeks.
Test results showed that the new Elastollan grades resisted shrinking while retaining softness, flexibility and tensile strength, Justice said.
Customer product trials and long-term field trials are in progress for the new grades.