Bioplastics are cropping up in many different forms, most recently as a crystal clear version of Plexiglas. Altuglas International's Plexigas Rnew bio-based resin, introduced at the NPE2012 show in Orlando, Fla., is an alloy of Altuglas's polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and NatureWorks' Ingeo biopolymer.
The Plexigas Rnew alloy's constituent polymers are both completely miscible and evenly distributed during the melt phase, Frank Diodato, segment director for durables and distribution for NatureWorks, told us at the show. "This gives a certain amount of latitude for varying the components in custom mixes." Altuglas can tailor the properties of the alloys, including characteristics such as impact resistance and chemical resistance.
A crystal clear version of Plexiglas with superior strength has been formulated by combining Altuglas' polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) with NatureWorks' Ingeo biopolymer.
(Source: Altuglas International)
Rnew retains the optics, scratch resistance, color acceptance, and surface aesthetics of its Plexiglas parent. Some of its basic properties have been improved, such as greater melt flow and lower processing temperatures, compared to other Plexiglas formulations. The two alloy ingredients also have similar refractive indices, which is how the extreme transparency is achieved.
Previously, there have been no transparent durable polymers with a middle range of impact strength between ABS on the low end and polycarbonate on the high end, and polycarbonate is known for not having either good UV resistance or scratch resistance.
In environmental stress cracking tests, Rnew showed a significant improvement over polycarbonate. In impact resistance, it showed superior performance that was much better than existing acrylic resins, and comparable to polycarbonate and co-polyesters, said Diodato.
Altuglas expects that applications for Rnew will include several in the durable plastics area. For example, these include objects made of injection-molded and durable plastics, such as small and large appliances, displays and signage, lighting, and probably some sheet applications, said Steve Davies, global director of marketing and public affairs for NatureWorks.
Also, Rnew may be used in transportation applications, including automotive small parts such as tail light and interior light covers, as well as a number of consumer uses. In its opaque form, Rnew may also be suited to some applications with higher-impact requirements.