For all the things plastics do today, expect them to do even more tomorrow. That's the message Bayer MaterialScience (http://rbi.ims.ca/4922-597) hopes to convey at next month's National Plastics Exposition (NPE). The company will display a collection of emerging technologies that promise to bring new functionality to plastics. Here's a closer look:
Lots of nanotechnology companies resemble their products in one respect — they're small. But Bayer has thrown its considerable weight into the nanotech arena and will highlight two different tiny technologies. One is the company's take on multi-wall Carbon Nanotubes (CNT). The company has come up with a proprietary production process that promises to reduce the cost of these materials. Robert Kumpf, Bayer's vice-president of future business, notes that this type of CNT currently costs "thousands of dollars per pound." He wouldn't give exact prices for Bayer's version, called Baytubes, but says they will be priced low enough to make them attractive in plastics formulations that couldn't previously justify their use. In that list, he includes composites, whose tensile properties can benefit from the huge aspect ratio offered by these nanotubes, which measure less than 25 nm across. "If you made their diameters as big as pencil, they would be about 250 meters long," Kumpf notes. CNTs also allow the formulation of electrically conductive transparent plastics — unlike the very visible carbon black. Finally, the materials also enable thermally conductive compounds. Since announcing the Baytube product last year, Bayer has delivered it into at least one commercial application — hockey sticks made by Montreal Hockey in Finland. In the U.S., the Baytubes are now available in sampling quantities, says Kumpf. "Our goal is to quickly scale up production," he says. Another nanotech development, this one incorporated in a commercial flame retardant plastics, will also be on display at the show. Some company's Bayblend products, which combine polycarbonate and ABS, now incorporate aluminum nanoparticles as a means to improve flame retardant properties along with hydrolysis resistance (see chart).
Maybe all polymers are functional, but some are more functional than others. Bayer will highlight its Baytron materials, which are based on an ethylene-dioxythiophene and usually sold as a coating or laminate for other thermoplastic substrates. Depending on the grade, these inherently conductive polymers offer conductivity (up to about 102 S/cm) while remaining transparent. And they can be electroluminescent, or light emitting, in some formulations. "They enable a wide variety of polymer electronics," he says, giving flexible circuitry, integrated sensors, RFID tags, lighting and displays as key examples.
The addition of aluminum nanoparticles makes flame-retardant PC/ABS grades more resistant to hydrolysis, as shown in melt flow test results which indicate improved molecular weight stability in the face of humidity changes.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.