Look for a very strong emphasis on "green" materials at the
world's largest polymer exhibition - K 2010 in Düsseldorf, Germany, from Oct.
27 through Nov. 3.
The giant K is only held every three years and is a good
barometer of where the plastics industry is heading, particularly on environmental
Environmental themes have been present before, but primarily
in side exhibits intended to show capabilities rather than mainstream
This year's K, however, will show the emergence of plastics
made from renewable resources as an important player even for injection molding
and food-contact applications. It's also becoming clear that bioplastic foams will
make a strong run at polystyrene foam for packaging applications.
Other environmental themes that have been strongly
emphasized in pre-K news conferences held this summer include:
Replacement of halogenated flame retardants with
newly developed proprietary chemistries that suppliers describe as highly
Introduction of new blends and compounds to
replace polymers containing bisphenol A (BPA).
- DSM Engineering Plastics,
based in the The Netherlands, is showcasing a group of products organized under
a banner called Eco+. Arnitel Eco+ is a thermoplastic copolyester (TPC) with a
20-50 percent content derived from renewable resources, depending on hardness. Target
markets include consumer electronics, sporting goods and automotive interior.
calculations of Arnitel Eco+ show a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,
cradle to gate, of up to 50 percent versus oil-based thermoplastic
copolyesters," says Francis Aussems, project manager for bio-polyesters for DSM
DSM is also making other significant moves into bioplastics.
The corporate venturing subsidiary of Royal DSM invested $20
million in Tianjin Green Bio-Science Co. to build China's largest manufacturing
plant for polyhydroxyalkanoates, which are produced by bacteria that process
glucose or starch. DSM is also partnering with a French company to produce
polybutylene succinate (PBS), a synthetic aliphatic polyester with similar
properties to PET. PBS can be made from fermentation of renewable feedstocks
such as corn sugars by microorganisms.
DSM Engineering Plastics has also introduced EcoPaXX, a
polyamide which is approximately 70 percent derived from castor oil.
Another global polymer producer with plenty of skin in the bioplastics
game is DuPont, which led the industry with the first families of high-performance
engineering resins based on renewably sourced polymers. The portfolio includes
renewably sourced grades of Hytrel RS thermoplastics polyester elastomer, Zytel
RS nylon and Sorona EP polyester.Click here for a photo slideshow
Toyota is now using fibers made from Sorona for the ceiling
surface skin, sun visor and pillar garnish of Toyota's new model, SAI.
Bioplastics comprise approximately 60 percent of the internal surface area of
the SAI - a compact luxury car.
At least six global polymer producers exhibiting at K 2010
have developed nylons (also called polyamides) derived from castor oil.
The technology was developed in Germany in the 1940s and was
commercialized after World War II by a French company under the Rilsan
brand name now
owned by Arkema. Rilsan thrived because of its unique performance capabilities,
not because of its non-petroleum origins.
Other companies now producing at least partially renewably sourced
nylon compounds are DuPont, Rhodia, DSM, Evonik and BASF.
Pre-K announcements regarding bioplastics underscore its rapid
advances in packaging applications.
Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland Co. announced that
their Telles joint venture has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
clearance for food contact injection molding grades of Mirel bioplastic
. Mirel F1005 and
F1006 grades are now cleared for use in applications from frozen food storage
to boiling water, including microwave reheating.
Also, Novamont, which produces thermoplastic starch
compounds, is coordinating a project to develop protective foam packaging made
The four-year ReBioFoam project has
received $4.3 million in funding under the European Union's 7th Framework
Program (FP7) and involves 10 partners from eight European countries. Novamont
says the aim of the project is to develop a flexible low-energy
process that uses microwave technology to expand biopolymers by taking
advantage of the water that is naturally present in the materials.PolyOne
has developed the reSound platform formulated with a 30-percent minimum
bio-derived content. Key improvements include levels of heat tolerance and
impact resistance unobtainable with neat bioplastics.
reSound compounds combine compatible engineering
thermoplastic resins with bio-based polymers such as PLA, PHB, PHBV and
biopolyesters. Future grades may take advantage of biopolymer resins currently
in development but not yet commercially available. Initial reSound grades
feature heat resistance (HDT) up to 120C (248F) and impact resistance up to 53
J/m (12 ft-lb/inch).
Unlike current biopolymers, PolyOne says reSound blends will
meet or exceed performance requirements for durable applications previously
considered out of reach for biopolymers, such as computer laptops, cell phones,
PDAs and automotive components.
Another major environmental theme at the K Fair will be the
replacement of brominated flame retardants that have been banned in the
European Union and some states.
Albemarle is phasing out production of decabrominate flame
retardants and replacing them with a line of organic flame retardants called
GreenArmor under the Earthwise brand. GreenArmor is based on a proprietary
DSM will show Stanyl ForTii, which it describes as the only
new polymer developed in the 21st century. The "T" represents terephthalate. On
June 22, DSM inaugurated its new Stanyl ForTii production unit, which
quadruples capacity.Stocko Contact
German manufacturer of electromechanical components, plans to switch all its SMT
connectors to Stanyl ForTii. Two new series of pin connectors are designed
mainly for use in dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and refrigerators.
The connectors can be assembled with lead-free reflow
soldering, making this the first RAST platform that can be reflow soldered.
RAST is a new connector standard that was developed to avoid
Stanyl ForTii properties include excellent dimensional
stability, full compatibility with lead-free reflow soldering, high stiffness
and mechanical strength at elevated temperatures, high melting and glass
transition point, as well as excellent processability in terms of flow and
In another application development, FCI, a supplier of
interconnect products, has approved halogen-free V-0 Stanyl ForTii for its FPC
connectors product line of optical disk drives and is currently expanding the
usage on various other connectors and sockets.
Another important environmental theme at the K Fair will be
the replacement of plastics such as polycarbonate that contain bisphenol A.
ViSi Mobile is a new medical device that monitors human body
functions wirelessly in a classy fit-and-press assembly that uses copolyester
compounds that offer transparency and mechanical properties similar to
The wireless device is under development by DD Studio in
concert with its client and manufacturer Sotera Wireless Inc. of San Diego, CA.
It was unveiled at Canon Communications' MD&M East
New York City.
Sensors attach to a patient's arm to monitor vital signs,
such as blood pressure and heart rate so that clinicians can remotely monitor
patients' information. The system also includes an eight-port charging station.
One of the benefits of the device is the ability to capture continuous blood
pressure measurement for ambulatory patients without the need for frequent cuff
"When Sotera Wireless approached us with this medical-device
design concept, it wanted the look and feel of a small, user-friendly consumer
product, but had a number of specific demands. The device had to be
chemical-resistant, durable, easy-to-clean and submersible under water. We
weren't sure the design was possible," says Michael Swartz, growth strategist,
The device's lens, housing, printed circuit board assembly
and connectors are made with Eastman Tritan copolyester MX711.
DD Studio relied on compatibility samples and testing
results from PolyOne to select GLS Versaflex OM 3060 TPE, which adheres to the
copolyester substrate to seal the device housing, including speaker port and
microphone, from water seepage and protect internal electronics.
The housing components use a two-shot injection molding
process, combining Versaflex TPE with the Eastman copolyester substrate. In
addition, insert-molded Versaflex is used to hold cables in place on the four
device connectors. DD Studio and the product development team worked with
Phillips Plastics Corp. to ensure the manufacturability of the design. Phillips Plastics Corp
. of Hudson,
WI, took the designs DD Studio created and conducted a detailed DFM exercise
and created market-entry prototype tooling.