The aerospace market is soaring high for Sabic Innovative Plastics.
Pittsfield, Mass.-based Sabic IP recently focused on several aerospace applications at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Seattle. Sabic IP products at the show included grades of Lexan-brand polycarbonate and Ultem-brand polyetherimide, as well as products based on those resins.
“Aerospace is very strategic for us and we're committed to it,” Sabic's Kim Choate Jr. said in a recent phone interview. “Ultem is our lead product [in aerospace], where it's heavily used in interiors.”
Choate — who serves as global product director for Ultem and for Lexan copolymers — added that the technical challenges of the aerospace field “make us be creative in developing materials,” including “new molecules” with better flame retardance. In some cases, film and sheet based on Lexan have replaced PVC in decorative aerospace interiors.
Ultem also has been able to make inroads by moving from sheet and injection molding applications into foam. Choate said materials research made that move possible in late 2009. In airliner cabinets, Sabic materials have replaced materials that retained water.
Early next year, Sabic IP plans to introduce a new grade of Lexan with improved colorability that's “going to be a workhorse” in the aerospace sector, Choate said. The material will be compounded at the firm's Mount Vernon, Ind., complex.
Aerospace “has been cyclical, but has been been picking back up,” Choate said, adding that Sabic IP expects its aerospace-related sales to grow at a double-digit rate in 2012.
Applications spotlighted at the show included:
* An ultralight in-flight trolley using ultraviolet-light-resistant Ultem for extruded profiles and door latches, and Noryl-brand polyphenylene oxide for frames and other components.
* A passenger service unit for the new Boeing 737 BSI using Ultem and Lexan FST (flame-smoke-toxicity) grades.
* New seat cladding, window pane and trim parts using Lexan XHR sheet.
* Aerospace boards based on Ultem for sidewalls, cockpit panels, ceiling panels, door liners and dividers.
Sabic IP is a unit of Saudi Basic Industries Corp. of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.