Paul Browitt has seen the future and it looks black.
Black as in graphene, that is.
Browitt, membership chair for the Quebec Chapter of the Society of Plastics Engineers, said in a phone interview that the two-dimensional form of carbon is one of the newest plastics industry trends and it is showing some very interesting characteristics.
Browitt is president and owner of Terinex International Ltd., a materials supplier based in Saint-Lazare, Quebec. Terinex recently added graphene to its diverse product lines that include resins, additives, concentrates and compounds. Among graphene's most promising applications is as a molded-in shield against electromagnetic frequency interference in plastic parts for electronics goods.
"Comparing graphene to carbon black, you only need a fraction of the material," Browitt said from his office. In addition to shielding properties, graphene usage could reduce risk of delamination or other degradation of physical properties.
Browitt said the high price of graphene need not discourage its use. When other manufacturing costs are taken into account, graphene could be the most cost-effective additive. It promises to eliminate a costly painting step often used to impart shielding to a plastic part and it can lessen impact on other physical properties. It also is not as fine a powder as carbon black, so workplace hygiene is a lesser problem.
Terinex sells graphene products and other plastics-related materials in small lots, often less than a thousand pounds. In this niche, Terinex fills a gap in the supply chain. Most large materials producers don't want to handle less-than-truckload quantities, but Terinex can meet their needs, according to Browitt.